The second Sloth Racket album is up for pre-order now, including streaming of one track. There are also t-shirts, all designed by Cath.
…for want of a better name…
I’ve got a brand new octet, and we’re gonna play music in public for the very first time next week!
Put together for LUME’s LUMElab series, the band I’ve got is amazing, look!
Kim Macari Stone-Lonergan – trumpet
Dee Byrne – alto sax
Rachel Musson – tenor sax
Tullis Rennie – trombone
Cath Roberts – baritone sax
Andrew Lisle – drums
Tim Fairhall – double bass
and me – guitar
I wrote about the process of writing (ooh, meta) on the LUME site. Click here to read about it.
And then click on my manic face to buy tickets:
Bandcamp have announced that today they will be donating 100% of their share of any sales to the American Civil Liberties Union in solidarity with their work. I’ve been a big fan of Bandcamp for a while, and I thought I’d point you towards a few releases I’ve been enjoying.
I hadn’t heard of Ava Mendoza until recently, and it turns out she’s great. Something about her playing tickles the bit of my brain that also loves Nels Cline. This EP of miniatures (also available on 7″ vinyl) with a French drummer and bassist is a great introduction, also check out her Unnatural Ways group for a more proggy sound, and some songs too.
I bought this octet record on the strength of the Quietus review, combined with it featuring Ingrid Laubrock on tenor sax. Susan Alcorn is a revelation on pedal steel guitar, I wasn’t previously aware of her, but that texture in amongst some great writing and improvising is very welcome, and never lapses into cliche.
DBH is a bit of a local legend around Manchester, and can be found in all sorts of contexts on any number of different instruments. This is a largely solo guitar record full of strong melodies and fleshed out with simple effective arrangements. Independent Manchester label too, sums up the great thing about Bandcamp, direct support for music that needs it.
A trio from Widnes whose live shows at Islington Mill in Salford fried my brain a bit last year (and triggered an obsession with almost, but not quite, buying baritone guitars). Amazing guitar sounds, nice melodies. Needs to be turned up loud.
A phenomenal album of mostly wildlife recordings. This track is the sound of nine vultures feeding on a zebra carcass. Recorded from inside the carcass on Itong Plains, Kenya. Sept. 1994. One day I want to transcribe this to play on guitar…
But yeah, buy something today (Friday 3rd) and help a good cause and some great musicians.
A couple of new videos have sneaked out recently, so I thought I’d stick them on here for you to watch.
First up is a video of my Article XI group in action at the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014. Dan Spicer mentioned in Jazzwise magazine this month that this group “demands to be heard”. So here it is:
And, on the back of a great review from Bird Is The Worm for our debut album ‘Triptych’ (“hyperactive…doesn’t sit still..whirlwind display of forms of expression…” buy it here folks!), here’s a video of our gig earlier in 2016 at The Vortex in London. And we’re playing a track that will eventually end up on the next album.
I’m sure there’s plenty more to report, but for now, hope you enjoy those.
Composed for my 11-piece band Article XI and performed at LUME Fest in June 2016.
The idea with this piece is to rehearse each section in a couple of different ways, maybe with different groups within the ensemble, and then to improvise your way through a structure that is written just before performance. The thinking being to ensure it’s fresh for each performance, and to avoid the ensemble learning a particular set way of navigating the material. This is me exploring an idea from Ken Vandermark’s Resonance Ensemble, according to the liner notes of Kafka In Flight (which is a great album and you should buy it!).
Live recording of the first performance, complete with some cueing mistakes on my part…
And the title; in honour of Leicester City’s premier league title win in 2016 (or rather, the way that everyone suddenly seemed to be a Leicester City fan).
Here’s the score for my ‘Winter 16′. Composed for the Vonnegut Collective and performed in January 2016 at the New Music Northwest Festival.
For improvising soloist with ensemble of any size. Although, I think trio might be the smallest it would work for, and I envisaged 5-10.
The piece formed part of an hour long concert, the theme of which was responses to Cornelius Cardew’s ‘Autumn 60′. Composers Cath Roberts and Tullis Rennie also contributed pieces and the three of us performed them and a load of improvising with the Vonnegut Collective‘s Gemma Bass and Gary Farr. A lot of fun was had by all.
If anyone fancies playing it, let me know, I’d love to hear it!
September and October bring with them a whole load of gigs, almost all of which with Cath Roberts in some shape or form.
Looking forward to being out and about with Sloth Racket again, and playing Cath’s brand new music for ten piece band in Lancaster (which I’ve dubbed ‘DecaSloth’ and I’m hoping the name sticks…).
There’s also an Anton Hunter Trio gig, a couple of Ripsaw Catfish ones, Skamel and (if you’re quick), a Lifemask Trio at the end of August.
All the info on the gigs page as ever.
Proudly announcing our #VoteIN EU tour. Or, rather, we’re playing in Belgium and Holland this month. The details are on my gigs page, as ever, but the headlines are below.
Also, today is the last day you can register to vote in the EU Referendum if you’re a UK citizen. I’d strongly recommend you do, and then on 23rd June, go and vote for us to remain a part of Europe. Pretty please. Click on the link and do it now. I’m just beginning to play outside the UK, and over the (nine!) years of The Noise Upstairs we have welcomed many people from all over Europe. Freedom of movement is brilliant.
//// Ripsaw Catfish EU mini-tour \\\\
Thurs 16th June
Ripsaw Catfish + tbc
Café Cosmopolite, Kempischdok-Westkaai 34, Antwerp, Belgium
Sat 18th June
Ripsaw Catfish + ZTEXT
De Ruimte, Distelweg 83, 1031 HD Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Sun 19th June
Ripsaw Catfish + Vanita & friends
De Nieuwe Ruimte, Dordtselaan 19, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
I’ve got around to uploading one of the tracks from 2014′s Article XI live recording at The Vortex in London. Which is nice timing as I can announce that we are (probably) playing a a gig in June. I’m very honoured to have been asked by Cath and Dee from Lume to bring the band together once again for their one day festival on 26th June at I’Klectik Art Lab in London (interestingly, that’s the day after the Efpi festival, also in London where I’ll be playing with Beats & Pieces Big Band)
There is, however, a catch. Lume are in the midst of a Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for the festival, and it’s not going to happen unless they hit their target by 11th May. If you can donate, then please do, and even if you can’t, you’d be helping a lot if you can share the link with all your friends (especially that rich one who doesn’t know what to spend their money on…).
CLICK HERE NOW TO DONATE MONEY (please)
Sloth Racket have got a brand new album coming out on Monday 2nd May to coincide with it. We recorded it at Limefield Studios near Manchester with John Ellis, and mixed it with Alex Bonney in London, and I’m really happy with it. Don’t take my word for it though of course, The Quietus called it “an agreeably spicy goulash of free improvisation, grungy riffs and bluesy themes”, but if that doesn’t convince you, you can hear for yourself and pre-order the album from our Bandcamp page right now!
And the tour to go with it…
In a few weeks I’ll be off to play in Canada for the first time, with a brand new group featuring the legendary Julie Tippetts, alongside the equally legendary Martin Archer, Peter Fairclough, Laura Cole and Seth Bennett. For several years now, Martin and Julie have been collaborating on studio recordings that have resulted in four albums (and they’re alright too, buy from Discus if you like). They were approached by the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) to put a live band together and play the material for the first time ever in public, and I’m pleased to say they asked me!
Hopefully there will be some festival appearances in the UK and Europe before too long, but for now, maybe see you in Canada?
Well, that was fun. This week I had a few days in the tropical South for my last gigs of 2015. Ripsaw Catfish played in Brighton at The Safehouse, a thoroughly enjoyable night in a room that sounded great. And then my first trip to Hundred Years Gallery for the “Lume : The Hat Speaks” gig, a sort-of tribute to my night The Noise Upstairs (the concept for which was actually inspired by The Safehouse 8+ years ago) where names are pulled out of a hat to form improvising ensembles. The high calibre of musicians in attendance made for some genuinely exciting listening. I played a quartet with Alex Bonney, Andrew Lisle and Ed Riches where I ended up with a heavily de-tuned guitar, exploring some bass frequencies beneath everyone else. Next was a quartet with Alison Blunt, Dee Byrne and Tom Greenhalgh, I got into some slide playing for this, and last of all was a very enjoyable scratchy duo with Tom Ward on bass clarinet. Other highlights were literally everything else, there was a really nice atmosphere, a great way to meet new players and explore new ground. More of this please!
In January 2016 Ripsaw Catfish head to Derby on the 17th, and Cath and I will both be working with the Vonnegut Collective on the 23rd, on a piece inspired by Cornelius Cardew’s Autumn 60. Skamel will be around in February, and the rest of the year promises more Beats & Pieces Big Band gigs, a Sloth Racket album and tour and my first trip to Canada to perform. More on all of that as details are finalised on my gigs page.
For now, here’s a live Sloth Racket video for you to enjoy. And a few photos below that.