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…
Anyone can see what I’ve bought through Bandcamp by looking at my collection, or you could head to my artist page to see what records I’ve been on that you could buy should you wish.
But yeah, buy something today (Friday 3rd) and help a good cause and some great musicians.
Last year, Beck Hunters (the trio of Mick Beck, Johnny Hunter and myself) released our debut recording The Hunt Is On on Discus Records. You can have a purchase of it here if you’d like. Or, more excitingly, you could come along to one of these gigs and buy from our beautiful selves in person! I’d really like to see you, so I hope you can make it…
Beck Hunters UK Tour 2015
Thu 5th FEB – Over the Top, 78 Kingfield Road, Nether Edge, Sheffield, S11 9AU 7:30pm
Thu 12th FEB – Noise Upstairs @ Fuel Cafe Bar, 448 Wilmslow Road, Manchester, M20 3BW 8:30pm (improv night with open jam sessions, BH set at 9:30)
Sun 15th FEB – Mopomoso @ Vortex, 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ AFTERNOON SHOW 2:30pm
Wed 25th FEB – Safehouse @ Good Companions, 132 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3TE 8pm
Sat 14th MAR – Halton Mill, Mill Lane, Halton, Lancaster LA2 6ND 8pm
“Agressive when it needs to be, but comfortable winding down into unhurried, meandering humour, it sounds like a miniature Art Ensemble at play.” – Daniel Spicer, The Wire, 2014
“…truly mind-blowing, ranging between a cardiac arrest, epileptic fit and a nervous breakdown. The trio are extremely tight, threatening to unravel before skilfully coming back into sync.” – Rob Aldam, Now Then Magazine, Oct 2013
“Ne esci curioso e in vita. Roba non da poco.” – Kathodik, 2014
Hello, I am a New Voice. For the next 12 months, Sound And Music have taken me (and whole host of musicians and composers from a wide range of backgrounds) under their wing. It’s nice to be in such good company and, if the first residency in Cornwall was anything to go on, I’m really looking forward to working with Sound and Music for the year. Myself and Cath Roberts (Ripsaw Catfish) have got a small amount of funding from them to do a series of gigs in the Autumn too, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
On that note, I’ve just updated my gigs page with some upcoming things in the next few months. I’m pretty excited about my first visits to The Vortex and Brecon Jazz Festival, as well as, well, all of them really. A couple more to be announced in the coming weeks too.
Here’s a picture of my face that Jon Tipler took recently. I definitely felt happier than I look here.
The weekend was spent improvising in different combinations (from solo to septet), listening to records, discussing all aspects of playing, all under the direction of Steve Beresford, who’s knowledge of improvised music, it’s creators and archivists seems to be second to none. Thanks no doubt to our hosts Max and Gary, the whole weekend seemed simultaneously very relaxing and very productive. Having space and time to explore this music is a real blessing, and I’m looking forward to our return visit in June already, not least because hopefully it won’t quite so stormy and I can play more outdoors.
Here’s a gif of us (click on it if it’s not moving).
So I’ve got some things to talk about already this year, if you’ll indulge me for a minute or two.
First up, I’m pleased to be able to announce that I have been commissioned by the Manchester Jazz Festival to write a new work entitled “Article 11″ for a brand new 11-piece band, to be premiered at this year’s festival in July under the MJF Originals scheme. More details will follow, but safe to say there’s going to be plenty of improvising involved from the word go. And I’ve got a great band, more info on everything in the coming weeks.
Next, I’m off to Cornwall next week for the first weekend retreat with Steve Beresford under the Sound And Music’s Portfolio scheme. Together with 5 other musicians, we’re all decamping to Wooda farm to improvise and talk about improvising. There will be a performance or two in June, so keep your eyes peeled for that too.
And last but not least, I’ve got a brand new band again! Ripsaw Catfish is a duo with the excellent London-based saxophonist Cath Roberts. If you don’t know her Quadraceratops band, you need to hear them now, although our duo sound nothing like that. We’re a bit noisy, quite improv-y and occasionally plays things together that we’ve written. But don’t take my terribly-written description as the be-all and end-all, come and see us at one of these gigs…
Tuesday Feb 11th – Fizzle @ The Lamp Tavern, Birmingham (with Bruce Coates & Trevor Lines)
Wednesday March 26th – Freedom Principle (with Trio Riot), somewhere in Manchester
Thursday March 27th – Lume, London (with Steve Beresford & Julie Kjear)
Sunday April 6th – One Note Sunday, Derby
That’s all for now, hope you’re well, and I’ll let you know when there’s more to tell about anything.
It’s true, they’ve even written it on their blogs!
First up, my trio album (available now from all good records shops that are called Bandcamp) got a nice mention on Stephen Graham’s Marlbank website, including such phrases as “a fascinatingly alert trio” and “eery stillness”. But I won’t ruin the ending for you, you can read the whole thing here.
And then, Paul Jones reviewed our latest Freedom Principle gig on Thursday. Featuring the incredible quartet Bagpipes For Pluto from Denmark/Italy/Norway/Finland as well as a improv solo from me (I stop short of saying “set” there as a look at Paul’s recording suggested I only playing for little over 8 minutes). There’s a full write-up with recordings over here, and I do urge you to check out Bagpipes For Pluto, their set was really really good.
This is the start of my new improvised Duets series. Intended to be a document of meetings between myself and a whole host of cool musicians, it’s going to be a mixture of brand-new collaborations and some of my favourite musicians I’ve already worked with.
Instalment one features Inge Weatherhead Breistein on tenor sax, recorded on his zoom recorder in Stavanger, Norway after we met on the Arena project I mentioned here and here. We’re hoping to tour together at some point in the future, so if you choose to donate for this download you’ll be buying us a beer on the road.