Article XI Album Out Today!

Folks, it’s finally happened. The album we recorded live in 2014 is now out. It’s got hand-stitched (and then scanned in…) artwork by Angela Guyton, it was mixed by Alex Bonney, and it’s got a load of my favourite musicians on it. And these people like it…

“An album characterised by strong themes and inventive group playing” – The Wire
“Article XI recalls the joyous emancipatory fervor of Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra and its commitment to sending a message” – London Jazz News

But don’t take their highly respected word for it, have a listen yourself:

Saxophones: Sam Andreae (tenor), Simon Prince (tenor+flute), Mette Rasmussen (alto), Cath Roberts (baritone).
Trumpet: Graham South, Nick Walters.
Trombone: Seth Bennett, Richard Foote.
Guitar: Anton Hunter.
Bass: Eero Tikkanen.
Drums: Johnny Hunter

All compositions written by me with the band.

Article XI and Favourite Animals tour round-up

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:

Don’t forget, my Article XI album is up for pre-order now, and Cath’s Favourite Animals is OUT NOW, still time to order that one for Christmas!

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…

Four guitar albums on Bandcamp

So, I’m going on tour in November with Beats & Pieces Big Band and, for once, I’m not going to be driving! (apart from a tiny little bit). And, as much as I love everyone in the band, I’m already making plans for what music to load onto my phone so I don’t have to talk to them all the time. Here are four albums by guitarists that I bought on Bandcamp, and I intend to get stuck into them all during the week-and-a-bit.

Julia Reidy

I Saw Julia performing in London earlier this year, on the same bill as Sam Andreae. Her music, played on an unusually tuned 12-string acoustic, didn’t immediately grab me, but as the set went on I found myself increasingly drawn in. An inspiring microtonal exploration of the guitar, complete with some wall-of-noise stuff for good measure.

Lean Left

Recorded live in Italy, this set ranges from some quite subtle moments (track 2 ‘Moti’ features some explorations of small-sounds that sounds great in headphones) to the more aggressive repetitive approach you might expect from the Ex guitars on the album’s closer ‘Gada Ale’.

DBH

I’m cheating with this one a bit as it’s only going to be released as the tour bus rolls into Amsterdam, but I’m looking forward to hearing it whilst sitting next to a canal or two. DBH is a bit of a Manchester legend, and his solo music is equal parts relaxing and inventive. It’s a hit with donkeys too.

Parachute For Gordo

I saw these lot at Thinking/Not Thinking festival earlier this year (Ripsaw Catfish were playing too), and was instantly into their mix of post-rock, math, effects & good humour. I’ve just re-read the blurb and it turns out it’s all recorded live in single-takes which is cool in my book. A nice pedalboard work-out always goes down well in this house.

If you don’t believe me, I have bought all these albums. And you can check out a bunch of bandcamp releases with me on over here.

Hope to see you on the tour, not least because the Manchester date is a mini-festival and Article XI are doing a set too…

New Videos

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.

New Video. New Album. Some gigs!

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 Album

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…

 

Victoriaville!

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?

Recent Reviews

Warning There now follows some ego-massaging. Warning

Last month I had a really nice time on some gigs, specifically the first two performances of my new ensemble Article XI (commissioned by the Manchester Jazz Festival to who I am eternally grateful) and my first time playing at the Cockpit Theatre in London for Jez Nelson’s Jazz In The Round gig. Anyway, some people came along and said some nice things…

Andy Cronshaw in the Manchester Evening News reckoned that the “Results panned out beautifully into a suite of eight arrangements”, with special mention to “trumpeter Graham South’s breathtaking solo, full of poise and invention.Full review here.*

Rachel Maby wrote on the MJF blog… “Last night I heard a completely new side to Hunter: a musical complexity that mixes his love of free improvisation alongside tightly composed and structured contrapuntal instrumental writing. I was amazed by his ability to combine both composition disciplines so successfullyFull review here.

In Adrian Pallant’s round-up of the festival for the London Jazz News blog, he called the suite “A triumph for creative jazz”. Full review.

Ian Maund wrote of the Vortex gig “the Article XI gigs have showcased an outstanding quality of ensemble and improvised playing.Full review here (although I think the site gets updated on the 1st of every month, so the review may disappear).

A couple of the people I paid to be there (the musicians) also said nice things online. Cath Roberts had “a fantastic time” and Sam Andreae said “Great tunes, heroic leadership and good times all round.” Both of them will be booked next time the band gets a gig.

I also did some chatting to the PRS For Music magazine and made a playlist of a mixture of bands that inspired me to play music, and composers who made me want to write for large groups.

And as for the Jazz In The Round gig, Mike Hobart wrote in the Financial Times “empathetic and appealing guitar trio minimalism over a pitter-patter pulse.Full review.

Some people took some nice photos too, here’s a selection of images, some from Peter Fay’s Facebook page, some from my dad, and some from Cara Courage on Flickr.

That’s all for now. The future hopefully brings new opportunities for the Article XI band (and in fact we’re hopefully announcing the next concert shortly), so keep your eyes peeled!

*They also seemed keen to highlight that “It was a great event and a good example of arts patronage at its best.” Now, I’m not overly sold on the idea of sponsorship in music, or rather, there are tricky moral arguments to navigate, but for what it’s worth, both MJF and the sponsors stayed out of the way and let me get on with it this year.