Last gigs of the year

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.

Oslo + Stavanger

Last week I got to visit Oslo for the first time, thanks to Oslo Jazz Festival and Fiona Talkington bringing Beats & Pieces back together with Norwegian band Ensemble Denada.  We were very lucky to have the chance to work together for three days, building on our London Jazz Festival gig from November to put together a show that I think worked even better this time, with more integration (for example, my ‘Jazzwalk’ became a duel with Jens Thoresen – he won).  The next day I was able to catch a fantastic lineup at the Blowout! festival, held at Cafe Mir and featuring Trio Riot’s Mette Rasmussen and a whole host of other phenomenal players.  Bizarrely enough I ran into improv-photo-journalist extraordinaire Andrew Newcombe, so he’ll have some better photos on his site soon no doubt.

After that I travelled to Stavanger to catch up with saxophonist Inge Breistein and further our “Hunted By Weather” duo.  I arrived on the Friday and was fortunate enough for his landlord to offer a lift to a small festival about 50 mins drive along the coast.  Great vibe, a wide mix of music, free home-brewed beer on tap and stunning views.  Over the weekend we hung out, caught up, played a bit, and talked about synthesisers a lot.


Manchester Jazz Festival

Had a great week at the festival, though I didn’t get to as much as I would have liked due to teaching commitments.  A massive highlight for me was playing before Sons Of Kemet at the Band On The Wall.  Lead by Shabaka Hutchings, the sax/tuba/drums/drums quartet played a blinder, incredible energy.  I spoke to tuba player Oren Marshall afterwards for a while and he seems a very inspiring guy, and particularly excited about the music he finds himself playing at the moment, mostly acoustic but powerful “earthy” music.  It was also great to hear him talk about developing his own voice through years playing on the free-improv scene.  Certainly worked out for him anyway!

Have a listen to one of their tracks here, I’ve been humming ever since.  And thanks to Andrew Newcombe for posting photos of the night on his blog.


My set with my new trio went really well as far as I could tell.  Some really nice moments including James’ bowed double bass and some glitchy “electronic” sounds from Johnny. Some really nice comments from friends, including a comparison to Tortoise which is fine by me, I used to listen to TNT a lot on tape in my teens, and Jeff Parker’s a fantastic guitarist if you didn’t already know that.

We’re recording the set at the moment, and I’ll stick some of it online as and when it’s polished.  I’m going to keep one track back for those lovely people who sign up to the mailing list though, so if you want to grab that, you’ve got till mid-August-ish to sign up, over on the right there ——————>

Here’s some photos taken by the talented Mark Whitaker (he’ll do your weddings/christenings/jazz gigs for you):

Other notable highlights included Jamie Safiruddin’s trio set, which was full of great interaction and some beautiful tunes.  Keep an eye on this one, he’s a fantastic player and is getting into some really cool stuff from the sounds of it.  And on the closing day, Neil Yates was in fine form with his Five Countries Trio, and we all had a good knees up to Hackney Colliery Band (eventually anyway, my Britishness kept me seated until a brave couple got the ball rolling…).  Here’s to the next one!