stevelawson.net

Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



playing for other people

May 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

photo of steve lawson, taken by Steve Brown - www.stevebrownphoto.co.ukpeople I’ve played with/for – Airstar, Alex Douglas, Alex Legg, Al Swainger, Alvin Stardust, Amy Kohn, Andre LaFosse, Andrea Hazell, Andrew Buckton, Andrew Gouche, Andrew Pask, Andy Edwards, Andy Gangadeen, Andy Hamill, Andy Thornton, Andy Williamson, Artemis, Beardyman, Ben Castle, Ben Okafor, Black Feathers, Boo Hewerdine, Briana Corrigan, Bryan Beller, Bryan Corbett, Calamateur, Carrie Melbourne, Charlie Moreno, Chris Bowater, Claudio Zanghieri, Cleveland Watkiss, Cole Moreton, Commonwealth, Corey Mwamba, Daniel Berkman, Dave Bainbridge, Davey Spillane, David and Carrie Grant, David Lyon, Deborah Jordan, Divinity, Dudley Philips, Duncan Senyatso, Elvin Jones, Emily Baker, Emre Ramazanoglu, Estelle Kokot, Filomena Campus, Fiona Clifton-Welker, Franck Vigroux, Gary Lucas, Geert Doldersum, Guy Jackson, Guy Pratt, Gwyn Jay Allen, Harry Napier, Hossam Ramsay, Howard Jones, Huw Warren, Iain Archer, Ian MacGowan, Ivan Hussey, Jason Carter, Jason Cooper, Jason Rubenstein, Jean Toussaint, Jeff Kaiser, Jem Godfrey, Jerome Cury, Jez Carr, John Lester, John Perry, Johnny Markin, Jonas Hellborg, Jon Thorne, Josh Seurkamp, Jude Simpson, Julie Lee, Julie McKee, Julie Slick, Juliet Turner, Kaffe Matthews, Kerry Getz, Kira Small, Leo Abrahams, Lobelia, Lorenzo Feliciati, Luca Formentini, Luca Sirianni, Mano Ventura, Mark Kelly, Mark Lockheart, Matthew Garrison, Matthias Grob, Michael Manring, Mike Flynn, Mike Haughton, Mike Outram, Mike Sturgis, Miriam Jones, Muriel Anderson, Murphy McCaleb, Neil Alexander, Orphy Robinson, Oteil Burbridge, Otto Fischer, Patrick Wood, Pete Fraser, Peter Chilvers, Peter Katz, Phi Yaan-Zek, Pierce Pettis, Ray Russell, Reeves Gabrels, Ric Hordinski, Richard Lewis, Rick Walker, Rise Kagona, Roger Eno, Robert Logan, Robert Mitchell, Rob Turner, Rowland Sutherland, Roy Dodds, Ruth Goller, Sammy Horner, Sanju Sahai, Sarah Masen, Seb Rochford, Shlomo, She Makes War, Sonya Kaye, Stephen Bingham, Stephenson & Samuel, Steuart Liebig, Steve Apirana, Steve Beresford, Steve Gregory, Steve Jolliffe, Steve Lockwood, Steve Noble, Steve Thompson, Steve Uccello, Stuart Ryan, Susan Enan, Tanya Donelly, Terl Bryant, Theo Travis, Thomas Leeb, Tiger Darrow, Tim Bowness, Tony Buck, Torycore, Trip Wamsley, Todd Reynolds, Tunde Jegede, Vicki Genfan, Yolanda Charles, Yvonne Lyon and more…

discography

2017 – Steve Lawson/Poppy Porter – Illuminated Loops
John Lester – Fathers And Sons
Steve Lawson/Andy Edwards – Over Time
Steve Lawson – If They Had Won
Steve Lawson/Pete Fraser – Oven Spring
Steve Lawson/Pete Fraser – Intersect
Lobelia – Love Or Something Like It
Steve Lawson – Towards A Better Question

2016 – Lawson/Edwards/Yaan-Zek – Ley Lines II
Steve Lawson – Hark/Winter
Tanya Donelly – Swan Song Series
Steve Lawson – The Surrender Of Time
Steve Lawson – Colony Collapse Disorder
Steve Lawson – Hands Music
Steve Lawson – Referendum
Steve Lawson – Well Say Hello Then…
Alberto Rigoni – Bassorama
Kiama – Sign Of Four (Bonus CD)
Steve Lawson/Phi Yaan-Zek – The Quiet After The Drums
Steve Lawson and Michael Manring – Language Is A Music

2015 – Steve Lawson – You Guys! Let’s Just Talk About Nail Varnish!
Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards, Bryan Corbett – Winter Song
Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards, Jem Godfrey – Live At Tower Of Song
Steve Lawson – A Crack Where The Light Gets In/The Way Home/Closing In
Airstar – Retrospect
Steve Lawson, Andy Edwards, Phi Yaan-Zek –
Ley Lines
Steve Lawson (with Ruth Goller) – Explore

2014 – Steve Lawson and Julie Slick – Marinate
Steve Lawson with Jon Thorne – Diversion
Steve Lawson – What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits

2013 – Artemis – Triptych II (Nine For A Kiss) (bass and mastering)
Artemis – Triptych I (Eight For A Wish) (bass and mastering)
Artemis, Steve Lawson & Daniel Berkman – For Now
Black Feathers – Strangers We Meet
Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman – FingerPainting Complete (10 albums + 2 album best of)
Steve Lawson and Daniel Berkman – Accidentally (On Purpose)

2012 – Steve Lawson and Andy Williamson – Nothing Can Prepare
Steve Lawson and Mike Outram – Invenzioni
Lawson/Alexander – Hidden Windows
Artemis – Sephyra
Steve Uccello  – Fire Times
Steve Lawson – Believe In Peace

2011 -Lobelia – Beautifully Undone (Songs I Wish I’d Written)
Steve Lawson – 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything

2010 – Steve Lawson – Ten Years On – Live In London
Trip Wamsley and Steve Lawson – Infrablab
Steve Lawson and Trip Wamsley – Slow Food
Steve Lawson and Lobelia – Live So Far (featuring Todd Reynolds and Neil Alexander)

2008 -Lawson/Dodds/Wood – Numbers on Better Late records.

2007Luca Formentini; Tacet (bass and loopage on one tune), on Extreme Records.
Calamateur vs Steve Lawson; Calamateur vs Steve Lawson, on Autoclave Records.

2006Steve Lawson; Behind Every Word.
– Steve Lawson; Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines.

2005Various Artists; European Bass Day 2004 – compilation CD, featuring tracks by John Lester, Lorenzo Feliciati, Jan-Olof Strandberg and others.
Various Artists; As One (charity CD featuring one of Steve’s tracks alongside tracks by Jimmy Haslip, the Poogie Bell Band, Steve Jenkins, Mo Foster, Peter Muller, Janek Gwizdala, Stevie Williams, Lorenzo Feliciati, David Dyson, Laurence Cottle & Dean Brown, in aid of SOS Children‘s work in the aftermath of the Tsunami)

2004Steve Lawson; Grace And Gratitude.
Steve Lawson; Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt II.

2003Steve Lawson; Jaco’s ‘Portrait Of Tracy‘, for Total Guitar Magazine, Bass Special.
– Steve Lawson/Theo Travis; For The Love Of Open Spaces.
– Steve Lawson/Theo Travis; It’s Not Gonna Happen.
Andrew Buckton; Rocket Ship on Blue Carpet Records.
– Chris Bowater; Still on db studios.

2002Steve Lawson; Not Dancing For Chicken.
Steve Lawson; Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt 1 on Pillow Mountain
Susan Enan; Moonlight (EP)
– Commonwealth; That’s the Way It Goes (OD Hunte single remix)
– Steve Lawson/Jez Carr; Conversations.

2001Jason Carter with Ragatal, and Hossam Ramsay; Elements (Fragments Of Grace re-released with some percussion overdubs from Hossam) on ARC
Andrew Buckton; Now… But Not Yet on Bluecarpet Records.
– Pauline Wright; Come Closer (Private Release)

2000Steve Lawson; And Nothing But The Bass, Live @ The Troubadour
Andy Thornton; The Things You Never Say (CD single) on EIS
– Steve Lawson; Guitarist mag cover CD Aug 2000 (1 track – ‘The New Country’)

1999Andy Thornton; The Things You Never Say on EIS
– Chris Bowater; Heritage And Hope on Word

1998 – Various Artists; New Songs for 98 on Word
Jason Carter With Ragatal; Fragments Of Grace on ARC
– Chris Bowater; All About You on Word

1997 – Trish Morgan; Spring Harvest Live Vol 1 & 2 on ICC
– Various Artists; Together For Christmas (live) on dB Studios

1996 – Various Artists; Power Of Your Love (Grapevine Live) on ICC
Johnny Markin; See With Your Eyes on ICC
– Geert Doldersum; With All Of My Heart on Spark
– David Lyon; Precious Little Things(private recording)

1995Johnny Markin; Between Two Worlds on ICC

1994 – Chris Bowater; A New Day on ICC

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Timeline and Trivia

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Timeline and Trivia

Musical Equipment Used

Modulus Basses (6 string fretted and fretless and 4 string fretted), an Elrick Gold Series SLC 6 String, a Rick Turner 5 String Renaissance ‘Amplicoustic’ fretless bass, two Aguilar SL112 cabinets and 2 Aguilar Tonehammer 350 amp heads, A Jule Monique Preampthe Looperlative LP1 for looping, Keith McMillen SoftStep controller and Quneo controller, MODDevices MOD Duo for processing, MXR, Darkglass, Aguilar and Markbass overdrive pedals, a TC Electronics HOF mini Reverb and Flashback delay, MXR Bass Distortion, Bass Chorus Deluxe, Bass Envelope Filter, Bass Preamp & Bass Fuzz Deluxe, Subdecay Vitruvian Mod ring modulator, Pedal Train pedal board an E-Bow+, Latch Lake and Dunlop slides, Dunlop Super Bright strings, East-UK preamps, Evidence Audio cables, GoGo tuners, 2 Korg Mini Kaoss Pad s and a MOTU Ultralite Mk III Hybrid. And I carry my basses around in SlickBag gig-bags.

Musical History

1986 – got a bass and joined first band
1988 – broke arm, kicked out of first band, formed second band (EARS) – played first gigs
1989 – GCSE Music, Grade C
1991 – AS Level Music, failed – fine at composition, not so hot on history… :o) Somehow got into music college in Perth, Scotland. Teaching as head of bass at West Lothian Rock School.
1993 – left college, moved to Lincoln, tour with Canadian singer/songwriter Johnny Markin. Gigs all over Europe, played on three albums.
1994-96 – working as a pro in Lincoln, teaching, studio and live session work.
1996 – moved to London, more session work, including TV, Radio and theatre work, more teaching.
1997-99 – teaching at Drumtech and Basstech, West London.
1997-2000 – freelance reviewer/interviewer/columnist/gadget guru for Bassist magazine in the UK.
1999 – Toured Europe with Howard Jones. First completely solo gigs in London.
2000 – Released And Nothing But The Bass on Pillow Mountain Records. More solo gigs around England.
2001 – 2 Solo tours of California, including headlining the world’s first solo bass looping festival, and tour with Michael Manring and Rick Walker. Clinics for Ashdown Amps and Modulus Basses. Solo gigs in France.
2002 – Another tour in California, Released Conversations, duo CD with Jez Carr, on Pillow Mountain Records, 2 Major tours of UK Theatres and concert halls supporting first the 21st Century Schizoid Band then Level 42. Two shows at the London Guitar Festival. National TV and local radio appearances in the UK. Featured in the Sunday Times Culture Section. Released second completely solo CD, Not Dancing For Chicken. NDFC picked as one of the best CDs of the year by Aural Innovations
2003 – four week solo tour of California, gigs with Michael Manring and David Friesen, including the Anaheim Bass Bash, featured interview in Euphoria magazine, and review of NDFC in Bass Player (Feb issue). New recordings with Theo Travis, BJ Cole and Patrick Wood for future release. Duo gigs with Theo Travis. Gig at the barbican with orphy robinson. Recording in France with Vigroux/Cury/Rives for upcoming release. first italian solo gig and recording session in august. Duo CD with Theo TravisThe Arts Show, alongside Jenny Eclair and Barry Cryer. Acclaimed appearances at The Detroit Bass Fest and European Bass Day. Gigs in US and UK with Muriel Anderson. A second tour in England with Michael Manring in November.
2005 – another year another NAMM show, followed by a few promo gigs with Michael Manring in California. Dates with pedal steel guitarist, BJ Cole, and recording and gigs with singer Cleveland Watkiss, as well as more UK dates, the Edinburgh Festival and a trip to Italy. Started monthly music night, Recycle Collective.
2006 – back to California, NAMM again and some more dates and another day-long masterclass, Recycle Collective continues to be one of the best live music nights out in London, and features musicians such as BJ Cole, Cleveland Watkiss, Orphy Robinson, Seb Rochford, Todd Reynolds, Jason Yarde, Andy Hamill, Patrick Wood, Leo Abrahams, Julie McKee, Andrea Hazell. UK tours with Theo Travis, Muriel Anderson and Ned Evett. 4th solo album, Behind Every Word, released on Pillow Mountain Records. Recording in Italy with guitarist Luca Formentini. New duo formed with singer Julie McKee, for the Edinburgh Fringe. European tour in October, including EuroBass Day and European Bass Day, as well as an electronica festival in Italy. Behind Every Word makes a number of end of year ‘best of 2006′ lists.
2007 – guess where it started? Yay, NAMM!! Bass-Bash, two days of masterclasses, Modulus clinics and gigs both solo and with Muriel Anderson and Vicki Genfan. Much fun. First New York show too. European tour with Lobelia, including first time visit to Frankfurt Musik Messe and gigs in Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark, 7 week tour of the US, 24 states, 7000 miles. Gigs at Greenbelt festival with Lobelia, Sarah Masen and Ric Hordinski. Recycle Collective relaunched in September. Playing on one track on Luca Formentini’s album, Tacet. First Amsterdam and Geneva gigs in November. Released live EP with Lobelia in December. Recorded improv album with Patrick Wood and Roy Dodds.
2008 – NAMM again, with Lobelia this time, playing the bass-bash and for Looperlative and Modulus. More California shows. Back to England, playing lots of ‘acoustic’ shows with Lobelia, London Solo Bass Night in March with Todd Johnson and Yolanda Charles, . Year ended with Lawson/Wood/Dodds album ‘Numbers’ released, and some LDW gig dates round London, followed by a whole string of house concert shows in England and the US with Lobelia. 2008 was also the year of social media – 10 years of running my music career online turning into a 2nd career teaching and consulting on how it all works, including Nokia flying me to Helsinki for their Open Lab, and working on the launch of Ucreative.tv at UCA in Rochester. Finished the year with a series of house concerts in the UK and the US with Lobelia..
2009 – …which continued into the new year on a trip that included a trip to NAMM, a masterclass at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a series of masterclasses in bass, looping and ‘social media for musicians’ in various people’s houses. But I did miss the bass-bash for the first time ever. Back to the UK for more bass masterclasses and other University-based projects around the future of the internet… look out for a new solo album at some point this year!
2010 – the first half was spent looking after our new born baby, but at the age of 6 months, we took him to the US for a 7 week, 6500 mile tour of house concerts, that took us from Brooklyn to Milwaukee, Massachusetts to Lake Charles Louisiana, via Texas, Tennessee and Ohio. Lo and I recorded a live album on the tour, featuring Todd Reynolds and Neil Alexander, and while in Louisiana I recorded TWO duo albums with Trip Wamsley, released in September. The end of the year featured a sold out London gig with Michael Manring, and speaking engagements in the UK and Berlin at grass roots music industry conferences. I also released another live album, celebrating the 10th anniversary of my debut album coming out.
2011 – first half of the year was focussed on getting my first new studio album in 5 years finished. 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything was released and followed by a 2 month, 8000 mile US tour, which included shows with Julie Slick, Trip Wamsley, Tiger Darrow, Steven Guerrero, Darren Michaels, Neil Alexander, Trevor Exter and Catherine Marie Charlton. The trip also included me guest-performing at Victor Wooten’s Music-Nature Camp, teaching a bass masterclass in Virginia, and Lobelia and I being the only overseas musicians to be booked to play at the first Wild Goose festival. Oh, and  I also co-produced, mixed and mastered Lobelia’s new record, Beautifully Undone. We started selling our music on USB Stick, which has proved v. popular. A move to Birmingham in the late summer promises all kinds of new opportunities.
2012 – the year started with the release of Believe In Peace, an all-improv solo record, recorded in Minneapolis. January continued with a return visit to NAMM, 12 shows in 12 days including duo shows with Julie Slick, Michael Manring and Daniel Berkman, a recording session with Steve Uccello and a playing-and-speaking gig at Stanford uni, as well as a masterclass at LA Music Academy. The shows with Julie, Michael and Daniel were all recorded, so mixing and mastering work on those took up a lot of the following months, as well as recording for Californian singer/songwriter Artemis. May saw the relaunch of Beyond Bass Camp, and the remastering of 11 Reasons… 2012 also saw the formation of #ToryCore – a project that coupled the evil words of the Tory govt with twisted avant garde metal. One of my favourite ever musical projects.
2013 – started with NAMM and another 8 shows with Daniel Berkman, and this time Artemis joined us on vocals at every gig. It was one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life to play with them both. Which is why a large chunk of the year was taken up mixing, mastering and releasing EVERY show we’d done up to that point. All 10 of ‘em. Went out to Frankfurt to the Musikmesse, more ToryCore shows & a few more gigs with Alvin Stardust depping for his regular bassist. Started teaching at Kidderminster College, and ended the year with a lovely joint tour with one of my favourite bassists – Yolanda Charles, and with a duo show with Andy Edwards on drums.
2014 – Another NAMM trip, 11 wonderful shows with Daniel and Artemis (part of a run of 14 shows in 13 days for me!). Just before NAMM I was invited to speak at the Microsoft Social Research Symposium in NYC, which was one of the most brilliant few days of my life. The duo project with Andy Edwards expanded to become ‘Andy, Steve + 1’ and we played a couple of gigs with Julie Slick, made an album with Murphy McCaleb and gigged with Jem Godfrey and Bryan Corbett – we have further projects planned. Played a super-lovely duo show with Briana Corrigan, ex-of The Beautiful South, whose solo work I’ve been a fan of for 20 years. I released a new solo album – What The Mind Thinks, The Heart Transmits. Playing at the London Bass Guitar Show and inviting Jon Thorne to join me on my set led to the release of that as a new album – Diversion. Towards the end of the year, I launched a new subscription service via Bandcamp, with the aim of finding a useful home for the epic amounts of music that I record and want to release…
2015 – NAMM in January, of course, plus a handful of lovely house concert shows with guitar genius Thomas Leeb. Released LEY Lines with Andy Edwards and Phi Yaan-Zek, the first new thing that my subscribers got, which Phi released for everyone else. Did the London Bass Guitar Show again, and had another of my bass heroes Ruth Goller agree to play with me. That was fun. Formed a duo with Divinity Roxx – hip hop, improv, songs, stories, all rolled in. We had a week of playing and did a first gig in Kidderminster. The duo with Jon Thorne was expanded to a trio with Rob Turner, of GoGo Penguin, that band sounds amazing! In September, I release two new solo albums – my first proper solo album releases since 11 Reasons in 2011. A Crack Where The Light Gets In and The Way Home were really well recieved, and got played on Late Junction. In October, I was the cover star on Bass Guitar Magazine, almost certainly the only self-managed, self-releasing, self-everything solo bassist to ever get there without an association with any other artist. Still can’t quite believe it. The mag cover coincided with a mini-tour with Jonas Hellborg – we had a wonderful time playing in Birmingham, London and Leeds, and hope to do a bigger tour ASAP. By the end of the year, I’d released 7 albums for Subscribers, all of which I’m immensely proud of! The year ended with the recording of a second album with Phi and Andy, to be released early in 2016. The year also featured a few more Torycore gigs – a thing that gets better every time we do it, and more vital, sadly.

Current Musical Projects

Solo gigs and recording -::- Duo with Divinity -::- trio with Jon Thorne and Rob Turner -::- trio with Andy Edwards and Phi Yaan-Zek -::- performance duo with painter Poppy Porter  -::-  Torycore.

trivia

favourite artists. – these days, it’s lots of singer/songwriters, and death metal bands. So, alternately, Bruce Cockburn, Cannibal Corpse, Jonatha Brooke, Cattle Decapitation, Joni Mitchell, Job For A Cowboy, Paul Simon, Entombed, Emily Baker, White Empress, The Blue Nile, Soulfly, Nik Kershaw, Ihsahn…

Along side that, a bunch of other things – Hope & Social, Bill Frisell, D’Angelo, David Torn, Let Spin,  Michael Manring, DJ Krush, Throwing Muses, Coltrane, Kristin Hersh, 70s Miles, Beauty Pill,Janet Feder, Jon Gomm, Kenny Wheeler, Trish Clowes, Divinity Roxx, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, J Dilla, De La Soul, Terje Rypdal, KT Tunstall, The Pixies, The Cure…

top 10 (or so) favourite(ish) albums

bass influences – Current favourites are Tony Levin, Ruth Goller, Michael Manring, Julie Slick and Matthew Garrison but there are literally hundreds. I suppose, in roughly chronological order, those players that have influenced me the most would be – John Taylor (Duran), Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo/Iona), Chris Squire (Yes), Simon Gallup (The Cure), Pino Pallidino (everyone, but especially the D’Angelo stuff), Doug Pinnick (King’s X), Ewan Vernal (Deacon Blue), Steve Swallow, Abraham Laboriel, Jaco Pastorius, Scott LaFaro, Freddie Washington, Bernard Edwards (Chic), Ray Brown, Jonas Hellborg, Family Man Barratt (The Wailers), Verdine White (EW & F), Tommy Simms, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, Jimmy Haslip, Jaco Pastorius, Danny Thompson, Eberhard Weber, Mike Rivard, Marc Johnson, Kermitt Driscoll, Mo Foster, Todd Johnson, Doug Wimbish, Yolanda Charles, Trip Wamsley, Divinity,  and loads more.

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Recycle collective one year on…

November 16th, 2006 · Comments Off on Recycle collective one year on…

Fab gig last night. Got there nice and early to set up, so was v. relaxed. Just as well, as i’m not well at all, so couldn’t have dealt with getting there late and rushing to set up.

Catster turned up to do the door (TSP taking a well-earned night off), Cleveland and Huw sauntered in not long after 7, got set up, all good nothing bad.

And people started arriving. Lovely people, just the kind of people I wanted to see. Greenbelt people, forum people, Danes, students, poets, singers, guitarists, Orphys (what is Orphy? Clearly ‘percussionist’ is way too limiting for what he gets up to these days… :o) )… A really lovely attentive friendly audience.

I started, as is customary. First tune was a cover of a lovely song by a fantastic Canadian singer called Lobelia, who I’m going to be recording with v. soon (the wonders of MySpace) – a lovely song called Happy that while I was playing along with it to get a feel for how she plays, revealed itself to be perfect solo-version fodder. Bit of a looperlative glitch, but I know it well enough to get round those things now. Followed that with Scott Peck, then got Cleveland up, then Huw. The middle piece with Cleveland and Huw is one of the loveliest bits of improvised music I’ve ever played. Started out with a bit ambient mush thing from me drifting through loads of clashing tonalities, before settling in one place, Huw joined in, and Cleveland improvised an exquisite lyric. Food for the soul.

Onto Huw’s set, which started with a John Dowland piece, on Nord Electra… which worked. Beautifully. Another solo set of African variations from Huw, then he and I played a particularly dark electronic spikey piece (and fell about laughing at just how twisted it all got), before Cleveland joined us again for more trio fun.

Set three began with two tunes by the wonderful Gary Dunne – a great singer/songwriter/looper/house-concert-legend. Perfect Recycle material. He’s great, go and check him out.

Then onto Cleveland’s set. His Echoplex had died, but I’d brought mine as a spare so we plugged that up and away he went, including his amazing solo voice arrangement of a Chopin Prelude. Wow. Cleveland and Huw’s duo section was really lovely, with Cleveland singing walking bass and beatboxing at the same time through much of it. Really great stuff.

And onto the final act of this birthday celeb. A huge mega piece which started with Huw, Cleveland and I, with me looping both of them, then we were joined by Roger Goula, then Patrick Wood, then Orphy Robinson, then Andrea Hazell – the two guitars and trumpet were woven into this huge busy sound, which as Andrea joined me, I cross faded back into just the ambience of her unbelieveable voice and my massive reverb and delay bass part. A perfect touchdown. Particularly nice to have Patrick and Andrea there, as they were part of the first ever unofficial RC gig, before it was the RC at Greenbelt 2005.

So that’s it, year one of the RC over. A year of remarkable music, some great audiences (some small but perfectly formed audiences) a whole shitload of credibility that hasn’t as yet turned into sold out shows at the QEH, but will. :o) I’ve spent the year calling my favourite musicians in the world, and asking them to play for next to no money, and they’ve all said yes. Lucky Lucky me. Most blessed me. Thanks to everyone who’s been to the shows, who’s played at the shows – particularly TSP who did the door and helped out at all of them, BJ and Cleveland who have been involved with loads of them between then, and of course to Ahmad and Darbucka for letting us use the venue – we’re happy to have introduced so many people the delight that is Darbucka :o)

All being well, it’ll be back in February for more improvised gorgeousness. Watch this space. x

Tags: Music News

Music things over the last few days

October 1st, 2006 · Comments Off on Music things over the last few days




House concert in Bournemouth

Originally uploaded by solobasssteve.

How far back are we going? er, Thursday i think – had a rehearsal with Estelle Kokot for a gig in a couple of weeks time – Estelle is a very fine jazz singer/songwriter – rather mad, but very talented. Her songs are a mixture of lovely simply 3 and 4 chord vamps and complex compositions with loads of chords and written bass parts and odd sections. Plenty for me to get my teeth in to. Definitely looking forward to the gig.

Then Thursday evening was back in the Vortex watching Evan Parker’s quartet, featuring Orphy Robinson on MalletKat (MIDI vibraphone) – it was a full on crazy improv gig, two sets of about 45 minutes each, with no breaks mid-set at all, long periods of really full on intense squealing improv. i go to gigs like this every now and again to reorient my ears to the effect that chaotic dissonance has. It’s not something I’d ever want to do for entire gigs at a time, playing fully out stuff in that way, but with a melodic structured counter-balance, I love the effect it creates, and I’m happy to engage with occasional concerts like this as a lesson in what that kind of thing is supposed to sound like, rather than trying to pick through it for what I like and don’t like.

Friday I was back recording Ruthie Culver – the singer I’ve been helping to redo the vocals on her album, recorded in a studio where the headphone monitor mixer didn’t work. This is proving to be a most enjoyable bit of work, and the result we’re getting are sounding great – I’ll definitely be looking for more engineering/production work on projects like this (basically anything that can be done easily in my office – electric instruments, solo voice and guitar, anything that’s multitracked and doesn’t include live drums. etc.)

Then Saturday, and to the picture at the top here – during the week, jim, the Fat Controller contacted me about playing a house concert in Lymington near Bournemouth. it was at the end of a day out for a bunch of people in their late teens/early 20s, and he fancied exposing them to something new, musically speaking. And it seemed to go really well – a most mellow setting, a very friendly crowd, and some rather fun experiments with the vocal looping stuff that I did at Edinburgh last year (record random percussive sounds made by audience members, make a tune out of it). As you can see, it was a v. intimate affair, and this was before another 10-15 people piled into the room…

Anyway, it showed how well my set-up works for house concerts (I’ll have to measure the exact surface area I need to be able to do it for future reference), and if any of you readers are interested in hosting one, please drop me an email to discuss the logistics and economics of hosting such a thing (and if you’re a bassist with lots of bass-monkey or musician friends, it can be coupled with a bass workshop/improv workshop as well.)

Tags: Music News

Two nights at the vortex.

July 31st, 2006 · Comments Off on Two nights at the vortex.

Been to two gigs at The Vortex in the last week – last Monday, I went to see the launch of Ingrid Laubrock and Liam Noble’s album ‘Let’s Call This…’ – I’ve heard Ingrid play before, in a quartet, but wasn’t familiar with Liam’s playing other than through MySpace. The music was exquisite, whether improvising or playing Monk tunes, the interplay between the two was gorgeous, with Ingrid switching between squeally extended range techniques and lovely lush full melodic stuff, with Liam providing entirely unpredictable but completely logic accompaniment – a really really interesting piano player.

The album is released – like so many great UK jazz albums – on Oliver Weindling’s Babel Label, home to such artists as Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland, Christine Tobin, Huw Warren… definitely worth investigating.

Then this saturday, Lianne Carrol was booked to play but fell ill, so the lovely and ever-so-slightly mad Estelle Kokot was booked to fill in, and did a fab job. It was also a rather nice London jazz hang, with JazzShark over from NYC, Orphy Robinson calling in, Huw Warren visiting from north west Wales, Christine Tobin nursing a nasty cut in her leg from a bike accident, and the aforementioned Oliver Weindling from Babel Label.

The Vortex is a lovely place to hang out – if you see something on their Programme that you’re going to, drop me a line and I might meet you there if I’m not playing myself.

Dalston feels like it’s a bit out of the way, but if you’re driving from north london it’s really easy to get to, and it’s just round the corner from Dalston Kingsland BR station… Go on, go out and support some homegrown jazz instead of wasting your time and money on an overpriced trip to Ronnie Scott’s.

Tags: Musing on Music

Too long since I last wrote anything…

June 7th, 2006 · Comments Off on Too long since I last wrote anything…

So what have I been up to, I hear you ask… Well, the usual stuff – teaching, practicing etc. More practicing over the last few days, as I’ve got two gigs this week – tomorrow and Friday (tomorrow is at the Half Moon in Putney, Friday is at The Free Church in St Ives) – need to get the new songs learnt as well as I possibly can!

Also been distributing posters for the Fret Phobia tour at the end of the month, with Ned Evett. Which reminds me, if any of you are anywhere near any of the venues (we’re playing London, Cambridge, Leeds, Wakefield, Manchester and Petersfield) please drop me an email or a comment and I’ll send you a handful of posters to stick up in music shops/coffee shops/waiting rooms/etc.

Been spending lots of time with the Ginger Fairly Aged Feline, who has made the most remarkable recovery… it’s the second time he’s come back from being that close to death. The vet’s amazed. We’re in Friday morning with him, to see what’s happening with his kidneys via the wonder of blood-tests. But as for now, he’s spending most of his time in the garden, running around (if you’d told us 10 days ago that he’d ever run again, we’d have laughed bitterly at you) and generally enjoying himself immensely. Hurrah for the tiny ginger one (no, not you Jude, the cat.) (well alright, hurrah for jude too…)

Tonight I was going to go and see Orphy Robinson do a solo gig in London, but got back from my postering outing and realised I hadn’t done the food-shopping I’d promised to do. So that took precedence. I was meant to be doing a gig tonight playing bass for a friend, but she’s disappeared off the face of the earth! how odd…

See you at the gig tomorrow!

Tags: Random Catchup

Some MySpace Props…

May 1st, 2006 · 1 Comment

as they say in the hood.

A few MySpace links to various coconspirators –

BJ Cole – genius of the pedal steel, plays on one track on my new album.
Cleveland Watkiss – Recycle Collective regular, one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard, let alone worked with.
Calamateur – Scottish singer/songwriter and found-sound experimentalist. Writes really beautiful songs, and we’ve got a duet album coming out some time in the next few months.
Theo Travis – Saxophonist… you know who Theo is by now, right?
Leo Abrahams – guitarist at the last Recycle Collective gig. Bloomin’ marvellous.
Orphy Robinson – vibes/percussion/trumpet/weirdness. An amazing musician and composer.
Trip Wamsley – solo bassist, composer, player and writer of gorgeous music. New album coming out soon.
Jeff Taylor – played at the first Recycle Collective gig. Great singer/songwriter.

There you go, I’ll add some more soon. Click on those, have a listen, if you’re on myspace already then leave a comment, buy the CDs of the stuff you like, and check out their gig lists!

Tags: Musing on Music

Recycle Collective III

February 23rd, 2006 · 1 Comment

Another fun evening at Darbucka was had!

The line-up, as you know, was me and Patrick Wood followed by Orphy Robinson and Roger Goula.

The first problem was how to get it all on the stage! There was so much gear it was untrue – Patrick had a keyboard, a Rhodes and a guitar, all running through mixers and pedals and stuff. I had the usual leaning tower of stevie, Orphy had a steel pan, bass marimba box thing, snare drum, trumpet and a huge hold-all full of miscellaneous percussion. So we did the set-up in two halves. First for Patrick and I, then for Orphy and Roger.

The set with Patrick went really well (from where I was sat!) – an opening ambient excursion, followed by a more jazzy/dubby piece, into a sort of drum ‘n’ bass/IDM workout over a heavily filtered frantic slap-percussive thing, and finally a version of ‘A Kind Of Prayer’ from The Works album, ‘Beware Of The Dog’. All of which was lots of fun. Because of the stage set-up Patrick was behind me, which was a little disconcerting for him I think – I’m kind of used to looking at buttons and not neccesarily at the person I’m playing with, so it was less problematic for me, but he played beautifully anyway. Patrick’s a really interesting person to play with, as he has myriad ways of shifting harmony against a loop – at some point I need to sit him down and find out what he actually does! The hugeness of some of his synth sounds added a lot of depth to the transitions between sections within particular tunes, and each time I use it, the Looperlative makes more sense, so I felt like I was really on top of the loop side of what I was doing – nothing happened that I didn’t want to make happen!

Orphy and Roger’s set started out in a much more ‘out’ free improv direction, with a sparse 9/8 loop off Orphy’s bass marimba thing, and lots of chaotic sounds over the top. Both the main strength and weakness of looping is that it imposes a sense of form onto what’s going on, which is great if you’re doing free stuff as it gives the audience something to latch onto, but it can be a problem if you trap a sound that you don’t want there and aren’t using a looper with an undo function! Orphy uses the Roland RC-20, which just has start stop and layer (oh, and reverse if you bend down and change it by hand, which he did at points). So the constant nature of Orphy’s loops provided both a reference point in the maelstrom of the out sections, and something for him to wrestle with when he may have wanted a more subtle transition.

fortunately, Roger was using one of the most sophisticated processing/looping/cleverness music packages in the world – MAX/MSP, a software program running on a Mac, which meant he could do all kinds of crazy stuffs to his loops and his processing.

All in, I enjoyed their set – it was a lot more out and free than previous RC stuff, and more out and free than most future RC stuff, but it felt good to stretch things a little and try some things out, and there were some really lovely moments. The quartet piece at the end was kinda fun too, which for some reason sounded to me like a Dave Gruisin soundtrack piece after some seriously heavy narcotics. In a good way. :o) So another enjoyable evening at the collective.

The great news is I also managed to get the next Recycle Collective dates booked in, or at least, two of the next three…

March 16th is the next one – not that far away – and it’ll feature me, Thomas Leeb (a brilliant acoustic guitarist from Austria, living in California) and BJ Cole. Put it in your diaries!

And then tonight, theo and I are in Cambridge – see you there!

Tags: Musing on Music

New Music/Recycle Collective tomorrow…

February 21st, 2006 · Comments Off on New Music/Recycle Collective tomorrow…

Went into town this morning (town=central London), ostensibly to pick up a copy of Sibelius G7 software. It’s a score-writing package, that I need to be able to a) do my column for Bass Guitar Magazine properly and b) get a load of PDF scores of my stuff up on the web-shop ASAP. I get emails every week from people requesting the sheet music or ‘TAB’ for my tunes. Rest assured, there’ll be precious little TAB going on. Reading music isn’t hard, and is a much more useful skill that interpreting numbers of frets on imaginary fingerboards so that you can learn lots of really simple songs badly.

Anyway, long story short, no-one had G7 in stock. Shit! A wasted trip into town. Well, not entirely – I did get to call into Ray’s Jazz, and picked up a couple of very cheap CDs. One was Daby Toure’s album (something I’ve wanted since seeing him at Greenbelt last year), and the other is ‘Nordic Quartet’ by John Surman, Karin Krog, Terje Rypdal and Vigleik Storaas. It’s a fascinating album, featuring lots of classic Rypdal guitar loveliness, and inspired me to record another idea towards the new album. I don’t think it’ll make it on there, as it was just recorded to stereo, not on separate tracks, but it is a great idea that I’ll definitely revisit. Terje’s stuff always inspires me, please check out some of his CDs. {EDIT – I’ve just compared the recording of this new tune with ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’, and it’s SOOO much better – amazing how clean the sound of the Looperlative is!}

And recording that piece has got me all excited about tomorrow night’s Recycle Collective gig – I’m playing in a duo with Patrick Wood – Patrick and I have recorded together lots over the years, lots of lovely improv stuffs, some of which is in the street-team stash (or was – I’ve no idea what’s currently in the stash!). We’ve also played live together at Greenbelt, both in a duo, and he was a part of my Global Footprint huge improv thingie last year.

So we’re playing, followed by Orphy Robinson and Roger Goula – both of whom are fabulous players I’ve collaborated with in the past.

I really am like a kid in a toy shop with the Recycle Collective – I get to book all my favourite people to come and make lovely noises with me, in a gorgeous venue, to lovely audiences, which you’re more than welcome to come and be a part of. See the RC website for more details.

So that’s tomorrow. I’ve been doing LOADS of teaching of late – schedule is filling up, for sure, I’m almost maxxed out on evening teaching (if you’re wanting any lessons, best book a fair way in advance…) but I’m looking forward to my next lot of gigs – book shows in April with Muriel Anderson in the UK, and some solo stuff in April, as well as some clinics/masterclasses around… watch this space!

Soundtrack – right now, it’s my new tune, before that it was the Franks – Sinatra and Dunnery (not together!)

Tags: Musing on Music

Dudley Philips at the Vortex last night

November 29th, 2005 · Comments Off on Dudley Philips at the Vortex last night

Yesterday day time was spent finishing off the mastering of Julie McKee’s live album from the Edinburgh Festival. Julie’s a fabulous singer – we’ve been working on some duet ideas between doing the mastering, the latest of which is to do the entire soundtrack to ‘Bugsy Malone’…! the mastering went pretty well, considering the source material. Sadly, the guy who recorded it didn’t send the multitrack sessions, just his own mixdown, so we were limited in terms of what we could do, but some compression, stereo expansion, judicious reverb and the tidying up of the bits where the recording had clipped have made it just fine. We compared it to a few other live recordings, from Donny Hathaway’s live album to my first album, and it stands up well, despite the odd pop ‘n’ crackle. Anyway, isn’t that what live albums are all about? There’s squealing feedback in the middle of Bob Marley’s live version of ‘No Woman No Cry’ and that was released as single!

Anyway, that was the daytime. Yesterday evening involved a trip down to The New Vortex in Stoke Newington to see Dudley Philips launch his album Life Without Trousers. I’ve had a copy of the album for a few weeks, and am loving it, so was excited to go and see the gig. The place was pleasingly full, lots of musicians in – Julie McKee, Orphy Robinson, Filomena Campus, John Parricelli and others, as well as friends of Dudley’s there to celebrate the album coming out.

The gig was marvellous – Nic France, Mark Lockheart and Carl Orr were the band, along with Dudley on 4/6 string electric and upright bass. great tunes, great playing, all in all a fab night out. The Vortex is such a great venue, and a vital part of the london jazz scene. I’ll be back down there next Thursday to see the Works – Patrick Wood’s band who played such a spellbinding set at Greenbelt in the summer. Please come down if you can! While you’re at it, check out the rest of the programme for December on the Vortex website, they’ve got so much great stuff on!

I also picked up a new CD while I was there, which was playing before the gig – it’s a collection of hymns sung in welsh, by LLeuwen Steffan, Huw Warren and Mark Lockheart. A truly beautiful album, on the oh-so-cool Babel Label – Babel are putting out so many great albums of late, go and check out their website and have a browse around. Marvellous stuff!

SoundtrackSteffan/Warren/Lockheart, ‘God Only Knows’.

Tags: Uncategorized