So, we did it then. What started over a year ago as a conversation about how ridiculous it would be to tour two large ensembles together, actually came into being last week. The process of putting it together was definitely something I couldn’t have done by myself and, as ever, I’m hugely grateful to Cath for collaborating on it. And Dee, Seth and Tullis made a formidable organising team, without whom I’m sure we’d still be sat at different stations around the country, wondering where we’re supposed to be.
The gigs were really special, and it was an absolute joy being part of both bands evolving to new places each night. It’d be hard to pick a favourite, the Birmingham gig at the MAC was a wonderful small theatre space that I’ve been wanting to play in again for years, the Lescar in Sheffield was packed and felt quite emotionally charged, as well as feeling like we were able to really stretch some of the music out. More Music in Morecambe was an inspiring place to be, and having the opportunity to workshop pieces with locals before the show was great, and finishing up in Newcastle at The Bridge was a fitting end to the week, I’ve been there several times these last few years and to bring our huge double-headed monster through there was really special. And we recorded the last gig too, so watch this space (although, not too closely, it took me three and a half years to get the last one out).
A huge thank you to our funders, Arts Council England and The Fenton Arts Trust, along with the fantastic promoters; Tony Dudley-Evans and Fizzle in Birmingham, Jez Matthews with Jazz at the Lescar in Sheffield, Ben McCabe with More Music and Lancaster Jazz Festival in Morecambe and Wesley Stephenson with Jazz North East in Newcastle. It’s difficult to get a large group of musicians together, and support from all these people was absolutely vital for this tour.
And it clearly worked too, the reviews were glowing…
“A marvellous evening my only regret being that we only got to see one set of each band.” (Steve H from BeBop Spoken Here)
“This was an absorbing and intriguing evening of uncompromising music making at the interface where the composed and the spontaneous conjoin to rewarding effect.” (Ian Mann aka The Jazz Mann)
And this instant audience feedback:
What a great gig tonight @TheLescar. Audience reviews don’t get better, or more immediate, than this, given to me in the second half. #ThePROPERshit. @cathrobots @HunterAnton pic.twitter.com/UnvGWUEwqY
— Jez (@jazzteabeer) December 7, 2017
Tom Ward took some great photos of us (and then handed the camera over to Ollie Dover for the Favourite Animals sets, keep an eye on Cath’s website for some of those), make sure you check out the gif of Simon Prince in full swing…