Last month I had a lot of fun with my nonet. The guys always sound incredible and having a run of gigs together like we’ve had has meant we can be a little more flexible with the pieces, leading to some extra surprises! I’ll be sad to finish the tour after tomorrow’s gig at The Verdict in Brighton but I’ve been working on some new music for the band that I definitely want to gig sometime next year. I’ve also been playing around with ideas for a smaller band which may well get off the ground in the new year. Until then, I’ve got another fun month of creative music ahead.  

Coming up this month 

1stNovember – Alex Merrit Quartet @ Con Cellar Bar, London

2ndNovember – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ The Verdict, Brighton  

14thNovember – Yazz Ahmed Polyhymna @ Hull Jazz Festival

15thNovember – Yazz Ahmed Polyhymnia @ The Crescent, York

17thNovember – SEED Ensemble @ Cambridge Junction 

19thNovember – Yazz Ahmed Polyhymna @ Cambridge Jazz Festival

24thNovember – Lauren Bush + Lorne Lofsky @ Pizza Express, London Jazz Fest

24thNovember – SEED Ensemble @ Jazz Café, London Jazz Fest 

26thNovember – Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra @ Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch

Things I’ve been checking out

I’ve been revisiting this great master-class given by alto saxophonist Dick Oatts which has inspired me to try a few different ways of practicing (generally speaking I’m very rigid with my practice but I really think it’s worth experimenting with different approaches from time to time). I thought it would be of some interest to jazz students to see how I’ve applied some of Dick Oatts’ ideas to some phrases from Freddie Hubbard’s famous solo on Birdlike. I’d be very interested to hear if and how others have used similar approaches. (I’m also writing a study solo putting this phrase into harmonic context, get in touch if you want to see it).

I’ve been listening to a lot of Dutilleux these last few weeks. There’s a fantastic album of his complete orchestral works played by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. My favourites so far are his Symphonies 1 and 2, and Métaboles. I’ve also been checking out the Don Byas and Slam Stewart duet recordings (Town Hall Concert, 1945) which are pretty special! 

I’ve already recommended the Blindboy Podcast but I’m doing so again because I really enjoyed his latest episode on Heavy Metal music. I love how he creates these narratives that draw from the history of ideas, culture and society. He talks about art in such a way that makes it a very relevant part of society. You definitely don’t need to be a fan of metal to find it interesting.



I’m absolutely thrilled to be back at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama teaching the Jazz Rhythm class alongside Will Glaser (one of London’s favourite young jazz drummers) and British jazz legend Trevor Tomkins. It’s a privilege to work with such esteemed musicians as well as talented and enthusiastic students. There’s little I love more than studying the greats and sharing ideas about practicing and learning. Last year I did some rhythmic analysis of an extract from the Miles Davis Quintet’s recording of Stella by Starlight from the famous 64’ concert. We looked specifically at the rhythm section comping behind George Coleman’s solo, and how they used rhythmic devices to organically develop intricate textures. It’s an example of what I consider to be musical genius in the form of spontaneous composition from Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. I hope this visual score helps any interested party to hear how much these musicians are listening and immediately reacting to each other, making beautiful choices on how to influence the music. 

Coming up this month 

3rdOctober – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ SoundCellar, Poole  

10thOctober – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ Future Inn, Bristol

12thOctober – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ Jazz at HEART, Leeds

13thOctober – SEED Ensemble @ Marsden Jazz Festival

15thOctober – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ Hauser & Wirth Recital Hall, Bruton 

19thOctober – Barry Green Sextet @ The Vortex, London

21stOctober – Calum Gourlay Big Band @ Vortex, London

30thOctober – London City Big Band @ The Spice of Life

Things I’ve been checking out

I’ve been waiting with great excitement for the release of Steve Lehman’s new album The People I Loveand I haven’t listened to much else since it’s been out. Lehman is probably my greatest influence as far as contemporary music is concerned, and the fact that his trio (completed by Matt Brewer and Damion Reid) is joined by Craig Taborn meant I was prepared to have my mind blown. There’s a few different contributing composers on this one, but interestingly it still all has that incredibly powerful Lehman aesthetic. I love it! I’ve also been re-reading Lehman’s essays available on his website. Anyone interested in learning about fusing Afrological and contemporary classical music will find this paper fascinating. 

I’ve also recently seen that there’s a new season of a podcast I’ve enjoyed. The Classical Music Pod is hosted by musicians Timmy Fisher and Sam Poppleton, the latter of whom I met last year when he put together and conducted an interesting program of genre crossing music including  Montiverdi, a new contemporary classical piece and Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool’ (and I very much hope my Baroque trumpet playing didn’t completely ruin the concerts!). It’s a fun listen that includes relevant news, reviews, interviews and some musical analysis (I think Sam does a great job of being insightful whilst keeping it accessible, something for everyone!).



The next leg of my Nonet tour is fast approaching with tickets now on sale for our gigs at Soundcellar (Poole) and Jazz at HEART (Leeds). All other venues will be releasing tickets soon. 

I had a great time recording with Marek Dorcik’s Quintet in Cardiff, and Josh Jaswon’s Oktet in Berlin last month. I’m looking forward to hearing the results and will of course post updates up here.

Coming up this month 

19thSeptember – SEED Ensemble @ Mercury Prize * I won’t be performing for this anymore but do check the band out on TV.

22ndSeptember – London Dance Orchestra @ The Ned

25thSeptember – London City Big Band @ Spice of Life

Things I’ve been checking out

I absolutely love Eric Dolphy’s solo on Clarence’s Place off last months Freddie Hubbard album The Body and the Soul. It inspired me to check out some of Dolphy’s own work as I’ve only heard him as a sideman. Out to Lunch!is awesome. It gave me loads to think about compositionally and conceptually, plus there’s some great playing from Dolphy, Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Richard Davis and the amazing Tony Williams (who had only just turned 18 when this was recorded in 1964).

Other albums I’ve really been enjoying are Ellington’s Second Sacred Concert(I think I love this even more than the first), Tristano’s Intuitionand Bodas de Latãoby Hermeto Pascoal and Aline Morena.  



I had a great time in Berlin last month rehearsing, hanging and gigging with the musicians in the Josh Jaswon Octet. I’ll be going back out in a few weeks to record the material. 

I’ll also be in the studio with drummer Marek Dorcik’s new project in a couple of weeks. It’s a great band with George Crowley (tenor), Tom Hewson (keys) and Mick Coady (double bass). Rehearsals have been good fun and I’m really hoping we get to gig the music after recording. 

Driftglass by Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble has been shortlisted for the 2019 Mercury Prize on which I’m a soloist on the track Afronaut. It’s been a pleasure being involved in this project.

Coming up this month 

5thAugust – Gorodi/Braysher Quartet @ Jazz at the Oxford (The Oxford Tavern)

11thAugust – Marek Dorcik Quintet @ Jazz at The Empire (The Empire Bar) *Unfortunately I can’t make this gig but do check out this new music, not least because Robbie Robson will be there in my stead!

13th-14thAugust – Recording with Marek Dorcik Quintet.

21stAugust – Recording with Josh Jaswon Octet 

Things I’ve been checking out

I’ve been binging on Freddie Hubbard these last few weeks. Some of my first solo transcriptions were of him on albums like Open Sesame and Hub-Tones, but it had been a while since I’ve given his albums a proper listen. In fact in recent years I’ve barely transcribed any trumpet players, so I thought it was about time I did. Freddie’s solo on the blues Birdlike (from the album Ready for Freddie) is heralded as one of the great jazz trumpet solos and I’ve loved getting into it. Freddie was just 23 when he recorded it which is unbelievable. I’ll share some transcription analysis of this solo soon.

I stumbled upon an album of Freddie’s that I hadn’t come across before called The Body and the Soul. It was recorded on three dates in 1963 with slightly different ensembles and line-ups on each day. As well as a small orchestra, the album features jazz heavyweights Eric Dolphy, Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walter, Reggie Workman, Louis Hayes/Philly Joe Jones and Curtis Fuller. Wayne Shorter did all the arranging for the large ensemble tracks which I found fascinating being a big fan of his later works for large(ish) ensembles. Freddie is joined by trumpet session legends Clark Terry (whose reputation speaks for itself) and Ernie Royal (who played on, amongst many others classic albums, Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead) which makes for a pretty awesome trumpet section!    

I’ve finally started reading Art Taylor’s Notes and Tones, a series of interviews the drummer conducts with many of his jazz contemporaries (including Blakey, Ornette, Miles, Roach, Rollins, Hubbard, Nina Simone, Elvin, Gillespie, and my favourite interviewee so far, Ron Carter). It’s an incredible insight into some of the thoughts and feelings of these innovators of jazz. I’ve not finished it yet, but recurring topics include thoughts and opinions on the new free jazz of the time, the nature of jazz, and the many levels of mistreatment of black musicians. On this last point, I’ve genuinely found it exhausting reading the musician’s honestly expressed anger and resentment, such is the strength and depth of their feelings. It couldn’t be more important for a white, middle-class music graduate such as myself to read about the conditions in which the music I love so much developed. It’s certainly adding more layers of appreciation for some of my musical heroes – I’m only embarrassed it’s taken me until the age of 29 to read these first hand accounts.



I had an amazing time with the nonet playing at NQ Jazz at the Whisky Jar in Manchester and Parr Jazz in Liverpool last month. It was our first time as a band gigging outside of London and it was amazing to have such a great reception and to see a few old friends. We’ll be taking few months break while I write some new material before we get back on it in October. 

I also had the pleasure of playing with the Alex Merritt / Gareth Fowler Quintet at the The Flute & Tankard in Cardiff (the venue has the best selection of gluten free beers I’ve ever seen). Alex had written some new music exploring Messiaen’s third mode of limited transpositions (and a variation of this by Hubert Nuss, discussed in this ‘Pablo Held Investigates’ video) which threw up some really interesting harmonic puzzles for each improviser to deal with.   

Coming up this month 

4thJuly – Dixie Ticklers @ Maison Assouline

7thJuly – SEED Ensemble @ Love Supreme Festival 

12thJuly – Josh Jaswon Octet @ Georg-Naumann-Saal Jazz-Institute, Berlin

23rdJuly – Gorodi/Braysher Quartet @ Ronnie Scotts Late Show

26thJuly – Gorodi/Braysher Quartet @ St Alphages Ruins, Play The Mile 

Things I’ve been checking out

After speaking with Alex Merritt about some of his ideas about the Messiaen mode (mentioned above) he sent me the Pablo Held Investigates video (also above), in which Pablo and Hubert Nuss discuss Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music Concerts. I’d heard these years ago when I was involved in a project of that music at Guildhall and I remember being pretty bemused and apathetic towards most of it. But I’ve spent the last month checking it out the first two concerts again, and they’re absolutely incredible.

A contemporary album I’ve loved this month is Liam Noble’s The Long Gamewith Tom Herbert and Seb Rochford. I’m a huge fan of Liam’s playing and how he gracefully intertwines his musical influences so that he always sounds like himself – not just an incredibly skilled multi-stylist! 

A podcast I’ve been enjoying is Ben Corrigan’s Excuse The Mess. Ben interviews a different composer for each episode, and then co-creates some music with the interviewee using only their instrument and his laptop and clever buttons (I’m afraid that’s about the extent of my tech knowledge). It’s insightful hearing how each composer deals with the composition challenge in real time. 



Last month we celebrated the launch of my debut album Apophenia,which is now available for purchase here. It’s the culmination of a few years of writing, and some incredible playing by everyone in the band, not to mention the hard work and wizardry of Jim Hart and Alex Bonney. The launch gig was a really special night for me, and I’m really looking forward to taking the band on tour and seeing how we develop the music. I was interviewed by Rob Cope for The Jazz Podcast, and by Sarah Chaplin for Jazz London Live. We’ve also had a lovely review of the album by Roger Farbey:

As well the album launch and preparing for the tour, I really enjoyed the Barry Green Sextet gig at the vortex – our first one in a while. Barry’s tunes are really challenging, often in less-common keys with sneaky tricks in the forms. They cover an eclectic range of styles within jazz and it’s a rare treat to get to play such varied material within a set. You can read a review here. 

Coming up this month 

2ndJune – Andrew Linham Orchestra @ Peterborough Jazz Club

3rdJune – Quartet gig @ Sharktown Jazz, Oxford

11thJune – Alex Merrit / Gareth Fowler Quintet @ Flute & Tankard, Cardiff

17thJune – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ Whiskey Jar, Manchester 

18thJune – Miguel Gorodi Nonet @ Parr Jazz, Liverpool

Things I’ve been checking out

I’ve spent a lot of time at the Vortex Jazz Club in the last couple of months, both playing and watching gigs. My favourite gig was Michael Formanek’s Elusion Quartet featuring Tony Malaby, Kris Davis and Ches Smith. It was the first time I’ve heard Malaby live, and I’m a huge fan of Kris Davis. I also got to hear two other incredible pianists play a few days earlier; Matt Mitchell and Craig Taborn provided my highlites of Dan Weiss’ gig with Starebaby.

I seem to be going through a bit of a piano phase because I’ve also been listening to a lot of Bud Powell (Jazz Giant) recently, and have also listened to the audio book version of Herbie Hancock’s autobiography Possibilitiesnarrated by the man himself. I thoroughly enjoyed the sections about playing with Miles and the various band members during that time, plus an insightful section on working with a very young Wynton Marsalis in the band V.S.O.P. The book is also a bit of a history of synthesisers. 



I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be releasing my debut album Apophenia on Ubuntu Music. Although it’s not officially out until the 24thMay, we’ve got an album launch gig at the Vortex in London on Friday 10thMay where you’ll be able to buy an early copy! Tickets are now on sale here

We’ve then got a series of dates across the UK:

17thJune: NQ Jazz at the Whiskey Jar, Manchester

18thJune: Parr Jazz, Liverpool

 3rdOctober: Soundcellar, Poole

10thOctober: Future Inn, Bristol

12thOctober: HEART, Leeds

15thOctober: Hauser & Wirth Recital Hall, Bruton

2ndNovember: The Verdict, Brighton

The launch and tour are generously supported by Council England. 

Coming up this month 

I’ll be focusing on writing some new material for the nonet this month, but I’ve got a couple of gigs this month that will be really fun:

13thApril – I’m playing with Seed Ensemble at the Barbican

24thApril – I’m back at the Spice of Life for the London City Big Band’s monthly residency. 

Things I’ve been checking out

As I’ve been focusing on writing recently, I’ve been checking out loads of different music. Two albums I’ve really enjoyed have been Anna Webber’s Clockwise and Max Roach’s Drums Unlimited. They’re from different times (the latter was released in 1966 while the former only came out a couple of months ago) but both have a challenging, avant-garde approach that I like. 


What I’ve been up to

My year started with a recording for a BBC Radio 3 broadcast with Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble. This was part of the buildup to the launch of her debut album Driftglasswhich will be released on Jazz Re:freshed in a few days. 

I’ve been asked to do some cover teaching at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and I’ve absolutely loved discussing and anaylsing a few of the jazz greats with the students there. 

I finished the month with the Wandsworth Jazz Orchestra at the Hideaway in South London, playing my arrangements of tunes celebrating Miles Davis. This was the band’s second gig playing this material (we first performed it in last year’s London Jazz Festival) and they sounded much more confident with the material, and they really let rip during the solos. I was struck by the honest, un-inhibited attitude to playing that is so hard to keep hold of as we age. It also occurred to me how important youth bands such as this are to the wellbeing of our music scene as a whole, and huge credit is owed to Olly Blackman and the rest of the team at Wandsworth Music Service for the work they do. 

Coming up this month 

10thFebruary – London Jazz Orchestra at the Vortex

22nd February – Playing the music of Fats Waller, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk at Kansas Smitty’s Bar with Nick Costley-White and Calum Gourlay 

27thFebruary – London City Big Band at The Spice of Life. We’ll be playing some Thad Jones / Mel Lewis charts!   

Things I’ve been checking out

I’ve recently rediscovered Dave Douglas’ podcast A Noise From the Deep. If you don’t already know this one, there’s a huge catalogue of interviews with musicians from various sub-genres of the jazz and improvised music scenes. 

In preparation for this cover teaching at Guildhall I’ve been going back over various albums and solos I’ve studied over the years to share with students. It’s all essential jazz listening: 

Louis Armstrong solos on ‘Hotter Than That’, and ‘Struttin with some Barbeque’

Lester Young’s solo on ‘Shoe Shine Boy’

Lennie Tristano’s ‘Line Up’

Herbie Hancock’s solo on ‘Witch Hunt’

Miles Davis – ‘My Funny Valentine / Four & More’ and ‘Live at the Blackhawk’ 


What I’ve been up to

The last couple of months have been have been really busy! November was dominated by the London Jazz Festival, but the month started for me with a really fun gig at Kansas Smitty’s bar on Broadway Market in East London. If you haven’t checked this place out before, it’s a really fun little club that’s putting on live jazz several nights a week. My first festival gig was at the Spice of Life with Gareth Lockrane’s Big Band. It’s always a pleasure to play in that band which is full of amazing musicians, plus Gareth’s charts are great fun (even if they’re rock hard!). My last gig of the festival was with Wandsworth Jazz Orchestra. The music service had commissioned me to write a few new big band arrangements celebrating Miles Davis. I had transcribed a load the first quintet’s rhythm section backings and a couple of Miles’ solos and scored them out for the whole band, and it was great to hear these young musicians getting to grips with this difficult material.

December was really full on with album and tour admin, but I had a great gig at Ronnie Scott’s with Patrick Boyle, Chelsea Carmichael and Dan Casimir playing the music of Andrew Hill. His music is really challenging; I often find myself wondering if he’s purposefully made bits of his compositions extremely difficult to force improvisers out of their comfort zone and stimulate more spontaneity. In contrast, I had the good fortune of being asked to step in last minute for Calum Gourlay’s Big Band gig at the Vortex playing a set of David Bowie tunes followed by a set of Christmas tunes suitably jazzed up by various members of the band. They has a monthly slot at the Vortex and features some of my favourite musicians (I’d actually checked out their gig a couple of months earlier to get some inspiration for the big band charts I was writing for Wandsworth).


Coming up this month

8thJanuary – BBC radio 3 broadcast recording with SEED

25thJanuary – The two small bands I’ve been coaching at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama will be performing material they’ve been working on.

31stJanuary – I’m really happy to be joining the Wandsworth Jazz Orchestra again for their gig at the Hideaway in Streatham.


Things I’ve been checking out

One of my favourite podcasts over the years has been Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. I’m not the biggest history nut ever (I didn’t get very far with my A-level anyway) but Carlin is so enthusiastic, and each episode is extensively researched (not to mention extremely thorough and therefore very long) so it’s hard not to be enthralled. His second episode on the Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945 has just been released. I’m also making my way through Graham Lock’s Forces In Motion: The Music And Thoughts of Anthony Braxton.


What I’ve been up to

I started the month playing a gig with Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble at the Jazz Cafe, an event put on by the magazine Gal-Dem to celebrate Black History Month. Cassie takes inspiration from black artists from across a range of mediums and genres (such as the sci-fi works of author Samuel R. Delany and poetry by Langston Hughes, as well as the obvious musical influences from jazz and blues). It was interesting to hear her thoughts on the idea of ‘Black History Month’. She believes that, although dedicating a month to highlight black history is a small positive step, British history is very much Black history and these two shouldn’t be separated in our history curriculum. Cassie’s point got me thinking about how relevant black history is to me (a white guy), not just as a musician who plays music from an African-American tradition, but as a human being living in the world.

Another highlight of last month was playing at Smitty’s Bar on Broadway Market with the Gorodi/Braysher Quartet (a band Sam Braysher and I co-run which features Tom Farmer on bass and David Ingamells on drums). I love playing with this band because it provides me with opportunities to carry on studying and playing music from the bebop tradition (while I focus on more contemporary music with my nonet). When I first started the band, I was mostly curious to delve into the music of Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. I love the way their language puts the melodic line through an intertwining rhythmic and harmonic process, culminating in melodic yet surprising music that challenges the norm. I’m still fascinated by this school of bebop, but more recently the band has included compositions by Coleman Hawkins, Art Pepper and Thelonious Monk, and it’s been great fun getting into all of that. I’m really looking forward to playing with this band more frequently next year.

The project that kept me most busy this month was with Sam Poppleton’s Zeitgeist Orchestra which, on top of several rehearsals, performed two concerts; one at All Saints Fulham and another at Kings Place. Sam picked a bold program of music that highlighted moments in history when composers demanded their music be taken seriously as works in their own right instead of as accompaniment for ceremony or dance. Included in the program were tunes from the Birth of Cool album (Miles Davis) and some Montiverdi, both of which Sam had rearranged for the unusual line-up. The program finished with a new composition called ‘I Will Wait, But Not as I Run’ by Effy Efthymiou. I’ve been checking out more and more contemporary classical music over the last few years and the “genre” (for want of a more helpful word) is an increasing influence on my own writing, so it was a really insightful challenge working on this piece. It was also a pleasure to play the Montiverdi as I haven’t played any music from the Baroque period since I left school (the other members of the orchestra were most helpful in providing stylistic guidance!) However, the highlight of the concerts for me was playing the tunes from Birth of the Cool. It was one of those rare opportunities to play Miles’ parts to one of my favorite albums. You can read a review of the concert here.


Coming up this month

18thNovember – I’m playing an afternoon set with monster musician Gareth Lockrane and his Big Band (ram packed with other monster musicians!) at the Spice of Life as part of the London Jazz Festival.

25thNovember – I’m really looking forward to playing my new arrangements of tunes made famous by Miles Davis with the Wandsworth Jazz Orchestra. This is a free event at the Southbank Centre’s Clore Ballroom as part of their ‘Next Generation Takes Over’ London Jazz Festival program.


Things I’ve been checking out

A friend recommended me the Headspace app and I’ve been getting really into it for just over a month now. It’s a guided meditation app with helpful animations and loads of different ‘packs’ so you can tailor your meditation practice.

The podcast that I’ve most enjoyed this past month has been ‘Intrigue: The Ratline’. Barrister/professor/writer Philippe Sands investigates the story of Otto von Wächter, a senior Nazi who escaped justice after the war (he was indicted for mass murder). Otto’s son plays a large part in the series, and it’s both interesting and heartbreaking to hear his determination to defend his father whom he loved so much. The podcast was an interesting compliment to the book I’m currently reading – If this is a Man / The Truceby Nobel Prize winning Primo Levi. This book (actually two books republished together) is an autobiographical account of Levi’s time in a concentration camp and the long and tumultuous journey back to his home in Italy after liberation.