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The Coronet Theatre Jazz Festival 2023: Revelations In Small Steps - The Film

Throughout the festival, there will be screenings of Tom Parsons’ film Revelations In Small Steps.
Completed 13 years after the first shoot – a gig Indigo played at The Crypt in Camberwell – the film explores the evolution and blossoming of the quartet. Using interviews, archive video and live clips, the film tells a story of friendship and the search for a new shared language of music inspired by the vision of the band’s founder, Byron Wallen.

Revelations in Small Steps: The FILM

Byron first caught my ear in 2009 playing with Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics at Cargo – Mulatu’s first London gig for decades. The way Byron kept reworking the melody of the tune ‘Mulatu’ was astonishing – each time he’d give it a new flavour, building on the last, adding even more sauce, showing yet another angle. We were filming the gig for Karen P. I said, I’d love to film that guy again.

The chance arose when drummer Tom Skinner told me the band he played in – Byron’s band, Indigo – was playing its 10-year anniversary gig at the Crypt in Camberwell. I was there. We filmed it.

But after I showed the cut to Byron and suggested putting it all on YouTube Byron said, wait a minute. Why not turn it into something bigger?

There began a long journey that took another 14 years but gave me so much: an education in jazz music; the chance to get to know sweet, virtuoso sax player Tony Kofi and the ever-opinionated, uniquely earthy bassist Larry Bartley; and most importantly the opportunity to tell a story of how four friends came up with a new style of music that touches everyone that hears it. Their music is based on traditional rhythms from Africa – always danceable – whose time signatures relate numerologically (because Byron is a maths graduate and lifelong learner of all things arcane and intangible) to stories, myths and legends, and whose singable melodies make the music accessible and simple yet endlessly complex – the paradox at the heart of true art.

We filmed interviews with Tom, Tony, Larry and Byron, and with choreographer Dr. S. Ama Wray. Byron gave me archive video from his tours with pop bands and travels to Morocco and South Africa. I started trying to weave it all together in a documentary but suddenly my own life took priority and I let the project pause. For another 10 years.

Then there was an opportunity and an incentive to get it finished – the band were playing a live stream at Ronnie Scott’s. By now the band had been going for over 20 years. But the music, and the story, is no less strong for that – if anything the message is louder: four friends make music that is uniquely a product of their personalities, the relationships between them, and the time they spent together crafting a body of work that continues to create meaning and feeling in all who hear it. It comes from the way Tony and Byron – working without chords, without piano or guitar – draw shapes between their two melodies on top of a magical rhythmic communication between Larry and Tom. And the way the band search, stretch and pull at the stitches of Byron’s tunes means the music is constantly evolving.

I’m so grateful I got to tell a story about the band and about Byron, who at the centre of it all informs the atmosphere of the whole project by being himself in all his wonderful open-heartedness, and – as anyone who’s heard him play will agree – by being such a bad ass trumpet player.” – Film maker Tom Parsons


Book two or more tickets for The Coronet Theatre Jazz Festival 2023, and enjoy to the screenings of Revelations In Small Steps

Thu 07 & Fri 08 Dec, 6pm & 10:30pm
Sat 09 Dec, 10:45pm