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’ 

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