So the remainder of 2013 was lovely – I had a lot of fun playing a couple of gigs with Julie Dexter on the northern leg of her UK tour, at the Hoochie Coochie in Newcastle and the beautiful Zeffirellis in the equally beautiful Ambleside. I’ve had the first session rehearsing some great new tunes for Tom Maddison’s octet, as well as a couple of days spent hiding under the stage at the Opera House in York, making lots of noise whilst remaining out of sight. Very exciting. A particular highlight of the last few weeks has been taking a couple of days in the studio with Fran Wyburn to record the first part of her new mini-album, which we’ll be finishing up later this month. Lovely musicians, lovely songs, a lovely time!
But while we’re all waiting for that, now available is the footage from the LindyPop show at the Bridgehouse Theatre in Warwick, recorded for us by Gavin Birkett. The videos should be somewhere near the bottom, if everything works how I want it to.
As much as I’ve been enjoying all the sideman work, the last couple of months have been most exciting for me because I’ve been back in the Composition Cave, working on a couple of new projects. Firstly there’s something that at the moment I’m calling People Poems, which is a return to writing/performing music just for acoustic guitar + voice (which is how I spent a lot of my wasted teens). There’s a makeshift home studio being set up as we speak, and the fruits of that should be available in EP form in the next month or two. Secondly (and very, very excitingly), there’s the Kasseldown Quintet, a new band I’m leading playing all original compositions, featuring some of my favourite Leeds musicians – Declan Forde, Will Howard, Sam Vicary and Sam Gardner, to be specific. We’re in the studio rustling up some demos next week, and we’ve got the first few dates booked in for February/March, so keep an eye out for some new music in a grotty underground venue near you very soon. Check the new-fangled ‘Projects’ pages for more details on both of those. 10 points to anyone who gets which writer both of those band names are a reference to.
Lots of lovely new things to listen to lately! Aaron Parks’ new improvised solo piano CD on ECM, Arborescence (which I think means ‘like a tree’), is just ridiculously beautiful. Also quite dark in places. But very, very good, definitely worth a tenner. Really inspiring, especially in terms of the spontaneity of it all. I’ve also caught up with the Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian record that came out a couple of years ago, also on ECM. Both records are great examples of playing that balances parts that are very beautiful, and parts that are reasonably sinister. On a side note: ECM come out with probably the second hippest record packaging in the business, behind the Winter & Winter stuff that I’ve seen. That shouldn’t really matter, except I think taking care over that is a strong step towards persuading people to buy something so they can have it in their hand/on their shelf, rather than just downloading (legally or illegally) – the Winter & Winter stuff especially, because it’s impossible to capture quite what it’s like in a 2D image on a laptop screen, let alone a thumbnail on your iPod.
I finally got my hands on a Colin Stranahan record, having been blown away the couple of times that I’ve seen him live. It’s Transformation from 2006, and Stranahan kills it, but the highlight for me is probably Greg Gisbert’s trumpet playing. I have to admit I’d never heard of him, but he sounds ridiculous, I’m looking forward to hearing more of his stuff. Also hoping to check out the Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato stuff sometime soon, I’ve heard/read really good things. Rounding out my new year’s listening is Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, what a lovely album! As much as I love Five Leaves Left, I’m glad he left out the strings n’ things for this one. I appreciate it when a singer-songwriter has the balls to put out something with little-to-no orchestration/production on it. All lovely stuff, all worth checking out.
And here are some silly videos of pop tunes done jazz.