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.

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