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2014 – A Year In Music

December 21st, 2014 | No Comments | Categories: Music News |

2014 has been another fun-packed year of musicking – solo gigs, collaborations, recordings and launching a subscription service to help people keep track of my rather accelerated release schedule 🙂 . In the UK and abroad, so much has been going on. So let’s grab a few highlights, eh?

The year started in traditional fashion, with a trip to California and a run of shows with Daniel Berkman and Artemis. After releasing the 10 album FingerPainting set in 2013, we’ve held off on releasing any of the 14 shows we did this year, but there’s some magic in there, and it’s in the queue for future release (though not all 14 shows of it, I learned my lesson last time 😉 )

I also did a duo show with bassist Steve Uccello while in California, that resulted in a couple of wonderful duets that will see the light of day very soon.

Oh and on the eve of my trip to California, I released What The Mind Thinks The Heart Transmits – my first ‘proper‘ ambient recording, which has proved very popular this year:

March saw two big events – the London Bass Guitar Show and the Frankfurt Musikmesse. At the LBGS, I was booked to play a solo set on the mainstage on the Sunday. On Saturday, I ran into Jon Thorne – one of my favourite double bassists on the planet, who was there with his bass, and agreed to come and play my set with me. I’d been wanting to play with Jon for YEARS, so this was quite literally a dream come true.

I recorded it, and the resulting album, Diversion, is one of my favourite things I’ve ever released. To be playing at that level the first time we ever plugged in and played together bodes VERY well for all the future music plans that Jon and I have:

The Musikmesse was another wonderful weekend of hanging with bass-friends and checking out new toys, and also included the recording of this rather lovely video, by Gregor at BassTheWorld.com (62.5K views and counting…) ::

Collaboration

I’ve found that my music career thus far has been divided up into long periods of solo-focussed work alternating with a focus on collaboration. 2014 was very much a collaborative year. Central to so many of the projects was drummer Andy Edwards. Andy and I teach together in Kidderminster, and have been gigging in various trio combinations (and as a duo) for just over a year. In that time we’ve built up a really enjoyable level of trust and shared language that evolves every time we play. This year, we gigged and recorded with Julie Slick, Murphy McCaleb, Jem Godfrey, Phi Yaan-Zek and tonight we’re playing with Bryan Corbett.

Here’s us with Julie:

And the lovely album Tangents, with Murphy McCaleb:

And a little bit from the gig with Jem (which will ALL be released fairly soon…) :

..the album with Phi is being finished up today, and will be available to my subscribers before Christmas, and to everyone else via Phi’s Bandcamp page in the New Year!

In the middle of all that, Julie Slick and I managed to find time to record a duo album, called Marinate. Our duo playing goes back quite a few years, but it took us a while to find out how our sound-worlds best come together, as we both make SO much noise. The same thing happened with my playing with BJ Cole, and the results are just as pleasing here as they were with BJ:

There were three other deeply satisfying collaborations this year. Firstly, an amazing weekend with Briana Corrigan, a truly brilliant singer and songwriter, who happens to have been the original singer in The Beautiful South (she sang their only UK number 1, A Little Time), but whose skills as a writer, thinker, artist extend SO far beyond those few years spent singing Paul Heaton’s songs. Our collaboration was such a wonderful chance to take risks, try out some new things for both of us, and start the process of building an entirely new kind of art project… Expect lots more from this in the New Year.

Number 2 was a fun remote collaboration with composer and keyboard player Jason Rubenstein, who got in touch with a great idea for an asynchronous improv project. Which is here:

and the third one was a wonderful short tour with fellow bass experimenter Al Swainger – we did a little tour of Devon in November, and some of the recordings from that will see the light of day VERY soon.

Oh! I almost forgot – Music Tech Fest in Berlin was a crazy few days. Booked at the very last minute to help demo a remote over-the-net collaborative improv tool, I ended up playing with three different people, playing Kinect, home made oscillator-based synth and a handmade cardboard keytar, built by Adam John Williams; one of the most amazing people I’ve met in a long time. So THAT was fun 🙂

Lastly, one of the most enjoyable ‘Bass Weekends’ I’ve ever spent was at the Warwick Bass Open Day in Germany in September. Quite possibly the most diverse and notable gathering of bass players in the history of the instrument. I made SO many new friends, caught up with loads of old ones, made plans for new projects, and played table tennis with bass legends. 🙂

And filmed this for BassTheWorld:

What else? Well, I switched amp and string brands and varied my pedal set-up in that ever elusive pursuit of the perfect tone, and have never been happier with my sound. Thanks to Aguilar, MXR, Darkglass, TC Electronic and Dunlop Strings for helping along that road.

2015 is shaping up to be an amazing musical year – more work is already planned with Briana Corrigan, Jon Thorne, Jem & Andy, and some California shows in January with guitar genius Thomas Leeb. Yay music!

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