Coming Up – a weekend of delicious improv!

I’m really looking forward to my gigs this weekend – I’ve got two, tomorrow night I’m playing at an alternative worship service called ‘Up’ at an anglican church in Thame (St Mary’s maybe?), where Jez, Evil Harv and I will be improvising 14 pieces based on the stations of the cross – for each one, we’ve got a painting or image to represent it and hopefully trigger some ideas. It should be really good, and probably quite emotionally involving, as the stations take us from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene through to his burial…

Then on Sunday, I’m playing at the Barbican ‘ere in London – on the free stage from 6-7, with Orphy Robinson, who is best known for his vibes playing, but on this one will be playing Marimba, Steel Pans and misc. percussion, with us both looping and processing our sounds (and I’ll be looping orphy’s loops too!) – we had a bit of a play this morning just to see what was possible, and it sounded great, so I’m really looking forward to this one too. We were going to be joined by top pedal steel player, BJ Cole but he’s got a gig he can’t get out of… I’m sure we’ll get to try the trio version soon. Instead we’ve got a singer coming to sit in one a few numbers, which should be a lot of fun too… Please come down if you’re in London, it’s a great way to spend a sunday evening in London…

Before that, I’ve got a full day’s teaching on Saturday, and am playing in church on Sunday morning, so it’s going to be a pretty full weekend playing-wise! And I must remember to change the batteries in my bass, as they’ve just run out…!

soundtrack – right now, Donny Hathaway Live. Earlier on, Bill Frisell with Elvin Jones and Dave Holland and while teaching today I was using Joni Mitchell – ‘Hejira’, Pat Metheny – ‘Bright Sized Life’ and Anita Baker ‘Rapture’… Also had a listen to ‘Beauty And The Beast’ earlier – the improv piece that Jez and I uploaded to my site as a Christmas pressie a few months back. If you’ve not heard it, head over to the MP3s page and have a listen…

Two steps from greatness…

Have you ever checked out cdbaby.com ? It’s a very cool indie music sales site, based in Oregon, with a great website, cool search functions and a lot of support for artists… Anyway, they have a system where CDs are linked from different pages, and one of them is the ‘Other CDs you will love’ section – Ron Miles is a very fine trumpeter extraordinaire, and dueter with the mighty Bill Frisell on his new CD… which is for sale at CDbaby… and who’s album should be in the ‘Other CDs you’ll love’ section, but me and Jez – Conversations! So there you go, just two steps from Frisell… don’t believe me, see for yourself…

Soooo, what else has been going on here? Currently working on the artwork for a CD by a Danish girl band called Desta – Jez is producing it, and last night I went over to see him and take some piccies of the band, and today I’m putting it together. It’s looking rather good, though I say so myself. It’s amazing what you can do with a fairly crappy digi camera and a bit of experience in photoshop…

Other than that? Been sorting out some upcoming gigs (see the gigs page), and also getting some dates arranged for Rick Walker when he comes over to Europe – Rick is a fine percussionist from Santa Cruz, with whom I’ve toured a couple of times, and whose friendship and musicianship I’ve enjoyed ever since my first solo gig in the US, which he organised back in Jan 2000… I’ll post more details about his Euro-dates here at some point…

Soundtrack – did lots of driving yesterday and listened to more of the Disposable Heros album, which still sounds amazingly fresh and inspiring 11 years after it was released. Then I had Paul Simon’s greatest hits on – I do love greatest hits albums, they are sort of a summary of where people have got to, it’s like recapping for those who missed the first half of a conversation, and Paul Simon’s GH is one of the most consistently outstanding bodies of work in the pop world. He’s amazing, and still making brilliant music, as You’re The One bore witness to. At home I’ve been listening to Ned Evett – ‘Circus Liquor’, Bill Frisell Live, Matt Garrison, and various projects featuring me!

Back to the Troubadour

Last night was the gig at the Troubadour, with Modeste Hughes. Which was great fun! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Troubadour has changed a fair bit since I recorded my first album there three ‘n’ a bit years ago, all for the better – the venue is really cool, the food’s good, the stage is nice. Was suffering a bit from an earth hum on my amp – couldn’t work out if it was the amp, the lighting, the system or what… a little bit annoying, but not gig-destroying… Was really nice to see lots of familiar faces there (though it’s a mixed blessing to play to an audience where lots of them have already got all your albums, as they don’t buy stuff! LOL) Still, the gig went well, and seemed to be rather well received.

Modeste Hugues was also very good – quartet of him on guitar and voice, with bass, percussion and his son on shaker. Great party music, smiling music, and some fabulous musicianship. Well worth checking out if you get the chance.

Lots of very nice feedback from the venue – the soundman and the venue manager both said they want me to go and play there again, so hopefully there’ll be some more me@thetroubadour stuff before too long… hopefully some interesting duets, and one of those increasingly rare me/jez gigs… finger’s crossed…

On a different note, church was very interesting on Sunday morning – the prayers bit of the service was arranged around a map of iraq on the floor in the middle of the church, and people were offered the opportunity to pray for peace, and light a candle, which could then be put on the map – a lovely symbolic gesture, handled without any political discussion, in deference to the messiness of the current situation and what we should do now it seems like the ‘coalition’ is, as Bono once sang, ‘Stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it’… Anyway, the symbolism of lighting candles is always such a simple yet effective focus for thoughts and prayers, and placing it directly onto a map of iraq, considering the lives of the iraqi civilians and soldiers, the UK/US military personel, the brave/foolhardy journalists, and those affected elsewhere, was a thought-provoking and moving moment.

Soundtrack – been repeatedly listening to Matt Garrison’s self titled solo debut album, which is marvellous. Also been listening to Best of EW&F, Naked City (the first album), The Pixies – Doolittle, and in the car an early Jonas Hellborg album (that someone taped for me when I was at college), and ‘Hipocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury’ by the Disposable Heros Of Hiphoprisy – there’s a track on the CD called ‘Winter Of The Long Hot Summer’, all about the first Gulf War, and it’s really really frightening how much of it could apply to what’s happening now… Also took a couple of CDs along to the gig last night to top ‘n’ tail my set – David Sylvian’s ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’ before I went on, and ‘Angel Song’ by Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Bill Frisell and Dave Holland to finish – ideal!

Sleep perchance to… wake up again at 4 in the morning…

Jetlag!

never had it this bad before – three days in a row I’ve woken up at 4.30am, and usually I can sleep wherever and whenever I want… not good. In fact, have spent loads of time asleep since I got back – combination of jetlag, exhaustion from touring, and some sort of cold/throat infection thing I seem to have picked up somewhere along the way. Not dying, but not exactly on tip top form either…

So what have I been up to? not much, to be honest. Still trying to catch up on emails etc. Working on some more gigs for later in the year – newcastle in may, and a london one quite soon, I Think… more on that ASAP…

Saturday, if I’m well enough, I’ll be going on the stop the war demo in London – could be huge, should be huge. The more of the news I see, the more insane it all seems to get. Colin Powell trying to suggest the french are just getting their UN-kicks by stalling? er, no, I think you’ll find they’ve thought you were mad since day one for suggesting this war… Anyway, I’ll be there, infecting everyone with my viral stuff, but hopefully helping to let Blair know we think he’s a dickhead.

Today will be a tidying day – my mum’s arriving later on (coming down for the demo), and the house is a tip.

Soundtrack – yesterday, I just listened to ‘Lessons Learned…’ about six times in a row – definitely my favourite of my albums at the moment, and possibly destined for a CDR release before too long, maybe with another CD of ambient noodlings… we’ll see… Other than that, been listening to ‘The Willies’ by Bill Frisell (excellent as always), ‘Kakusei’ by DJ Krush (down tempo IDM – very cool indeed), and ‘this sentence is true (the previous sentence is false)’ by Sheila Chandra, which, as with all her stuff, is stunning. what else. Oh yes, the new album from Theo Travis, an album of solo alto flute looping called ‘Slow Life’, it’s lovely, naturally, as is all of theo’s music. And lastly, the new album from Michael Franti – ‘Sounds From The Front Porch’, which is just what the doctor ordered as the world heads towards more rich people bombing poor people.

And one last site to check out – www.axisofjustice.org – great site, run by Tom Morello I think, from Audioslave – is the audioslave album any good? been meaning to check it out… very good site anyway. go there and get informed!

oh and by the way, I posted a link to Todd Johnson, the bassist’s, site the other day as www.toddjohnson.com which turns out to be a hocket player or something… anyway, Todd’s real web address is www.toddjohnsonmusic.com – go pay him a visit, and ask him sports related questions… :o)