This weekend I did some recording on upright and electric bass for Will Archer. Kind of tricky to describe the music, but it wasn’t totally dissimilar to this recent stuff of his. It should be out sometime later in the year. Cheers to Dom Pusey who was also involved :-).
On Friday I’ll be in Wrexham to take part in the DARGANFOD//DISCOVER festival that Mike Corcoran is organising. Roughly speaking, it’s a science festival, but there’s a whole lot of stuff crossing over with arts and music too — it looks pretty amazing. Lots of credit to Mike for getting it together, and for agreeing to lend his formidable conversation-leading powers to help my talk make a bit more sense.
Also taking part is the amazing Bryony Benge-Abbott who, among other things, is in charge of exhibitions at the Crick institute.
Here are some more recordings from my quartet gig a few weeks ago in Leeds, all together in one post for convenience. Videos: It’s You by Lee Konitz, the standard Just Friends, and Bud Powell’s I’ll Keep Loving You. Then, some audio: Subconscious Lee (Konitz), and the Love Theme and Memories of Green, from the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis.
In other news, I’m now an endorsing artist for Nordstrand, a great company in California that made my basses and is especially famous for their excellent pickups. Thanks to Carey and everyone else there.
A week ago I took a quartet to Inkwell Arts in Leeds to perform some of my favourite standard and less-standard tunes, along with some arrangements from Vangelis’ wonderful jazz-noir soundtrack to Blade Runner. Ex-Leeds saxophonist Matt Anderson and Leeds-based smashers Martin Longhawn (keys) and Steve (‘Chief’) Hanley (drums) joined me. It’s quite a privilege to have these great musicians and old friends play your charts and seem to enjoy doing so :-).
Anyway, we were fortunate to have Chris Milnes there taking a few videos and sound recordings, so I’ll be uploading some over the coming weeks. Here’ s an extract from Lee Konitz’s line It’s You (over It’s You or No-One). The full video link is at the bottom.
In Washington DC I had the pleasure to meet and play with lots of amazing people. Perhaps the highest joy was meeting Brad Linde and Billy Wolfe at a big band gig in my first few weeks, and joining their avant-garde/americana project along with super-hip New York cats Aaron Quinn and Deric Dickens. (I also eventually joined the wonderful Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, which Brad leads with Joe Herrera.) We’ve released our second album and I just got round to making this trailer with a few extracts.
I tried to be representative, so there’s a bit of Haskell’s beautiful Starlight, Billy’s quasi-Konitzian original Turkey, Deric’s lilting and folky Pickett Fence, the standard Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland, and Aaron’s terrifying (which can be oiled in different patterns for different techniques). Finally, the video ends how the album begins, with Brad counting off a free blow named Gotta Blast!
Check out more and buy it here.
Here’s a rough transcription of Steve Swallow, one my favourite bassists, playing on the album Three Guys with Lee Konitz and Paul Motian. (Dreamy band or what?). It’s a Konitz composition over It’s You Or No One. So far, I can’t find it online (a tiny sample in this article) but I’m reliably informed it exists on somewhere on youtube.
Anyway, here is the unison line that ends the tune:
And here it is played in somewhat Swallow-y style — very light roundwounds with a pick and loads of tone rolled off:
Connoisseurs will know that the pick should really be copper, and the bass a semi-acoustic with a piezo somewhere, strung E-C, etc.
Recently I was very honoured to be invited to Creative Futures 2017 by my old friend Mike Corcoran. Mike is something of a polymath, with a huge variety of interests in the arts, philosophy and science. We originally met at Durham University while queueing for one of the many administrative things that first-year students have to queue for. We were the only two people in the year doing our particular combination of physics and philosophy modules, and remained friends throughout.
We had a discussion about similarities, differences, shared joys and shared troubles in the arts and the sciences. It was a lot of fun and I felt like we could have sat there chatting for hours. A nice video of the talk is available here, made by the people at Filmage.
A few weeks ago I did my second-to-last gig in the UK, for a change leading a project and so being able to choose some tunes I’d always wanted to play but hadn’t. It was lovely to have some great friends in the audience, and in the band. George Millard kindly came up from London, and he and Ben brought some nice songs along too. There were lots of contrafacts, lots of bop and a few lovely ballads. I’ve uploaded a selection to a Soundcloud set and am making the PDFs available too. I just zipped up the folder containing the charts but it’s pretty easy to see how they fit together. Hopefully they’ll save people having to transcribe some of the less well-known ones themselves. Do tell me if you end up using them, it’d be nice to know.
I’ll shortly be moving away from Leeds (more about that in another post). It’s been a great place to spend the last 4 years in so many ways, none more so than in the wonderful people I’ve played music with here. It all started with the Leeds University Union Big Band, then local jam nights bumping into students and alumni of Leeds College of Music, and countless weekends driving between the weddings of people I don’t know, accompanied by the best musicians and nicest people I could hope to meet. Lots of love to everyone involved.
My last “public” gig in Leeds for quite a while is coming up this Saturday at the HEART venue in Headingley. It’s a project I’ve put together for a couple of one-off gigs. That gives me as a bassist the rare chance to choose and arrange a lot of the tunes, bringing back fond memories of leading the considerably bigger but no less enjoyable Uni Big Band. The band features some great friends and top players:
— Steve Hanley (drums)
— Martin Longhawn (piano)
— Ben Lowman (sax)
— George Millard (sax)
We’ll be doing a selection broadly covering west coast, bop, hard bop, beautiful ballads and a few odds and ends. The idea is to focus on great melodies, in tunes that might even be reasonably well-known but for whatever reason aren’t performed very often. It’s involved lots of transcribing and lots of trying to recall the names of half-remembered lines. Konitz, Nelson, Powell, Corea, Vangelis, etc etc. It’s going to be great fun, pretty accessible and hopefully provide a lot of interest and variety for jazzers in the audience too. Tickets are available through HEART.