Forgotten Gems…

Was just browsing around the pages of my ‘top friends’ on Myspace, and on a whim started playing the tunes that are on the Recycle Collective page – just in case you’ve only just found this site, the Recycle Collective is a semi-regular improv night that I run in London with a revolving cast of characters that has produced some of the most incredible music I’ve ever had the fortune to be a part of…

Anyway, I’d forgotten just how lovely the tunes are that are up on the RC page – go here to have a listen – the first one, Dido’s Lament is with Andrea Hazell, and is particularly interesting as for big chunks of it when I tried to loop her voice, all I managed to loop was the reverb on her voice, which makes it all the more ghostly…

The second track is an improv duet with Cleveland Watkiss, the first thing we ever played together, and has a sort of Gregorian chant-ish harmony to it.

Track three is with Theo Travis, and is an improv track from a gig we did in Cambridge, that will eventually end up on a live album somewhere!

The last track features Cleveland again, and Julie McKee – all good stuff!

So head over there, enjoy, and look out for more RC gigs coming up soon!

write up in Time Out for tomorrow night's Recycle Collective gig…

Once again, we’ve got a really lovely write up in Time Out

“Singularly talented solo looper/electric bassist Lawson moves his long running RC night from Darbuka to a new regular slot at the Vortex. Joining the ambient effects maestro tonight will be bewilderingly versatile singer Cleveland Watkiss, also looping his a capella voice, and Royal Opera singer Andrea Hazell, this will be breathlessly spontaneous, indefinable, music making.”

That’s rather nice, and true, and means you shouldn’t miss it!

Gig booking frenzy…

All kinds of exciting gig booking news today – first up, on August 22nd, I’ll be back playing at Darbucka for the first time this year, in my duo with Lobelia and also with Monk aka Ric Hordinski – Ric is a stunning guitarist, a former member of Over The Rhine, has produced records for people like Phil Keaggy and David Wilcox and made a stack of amazing records under the Monk moniker.

I played a show with Ric in LA a few years ago that was a whole lot of fun, and a whole lot of great music, and I tracked some fun noises for his new instrumental record when I was in Cincinnati on this last tour in the US.

The duo with Lobelia is one of the most exciting and fun musical projects I’ve had in ages, and you can hear some of what that sounds like on my myspace page and on her myspace page too.

So that’s gig #1.

Also this evening I’ve booked Patrick Wood and Andrea Hazell to come and play with the Recycle Collective at Greenbelt – both are Recycle regulars, stunning improvisors and just all-round amazing musicians.

AND, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve booked Andrea, and am just waiting for confirmation from Cleveland Watkiss for the Recycle gig on the 6th September at The Vortex – how exciting!

Lots of great gig news fo’ sho’. :o)

Go and put them in your diaries now, you lovely london peoples.

new track up on Myspace page… finally!

I know, I know – with all this talk of us touring and gigging across Europe and the US, y’all have been wanting to hear some of the duo-loveliness with Lobelia – well, there are now two tracks for you to listen to. Firstly on my myspace page there’s a track of L’s called ‘Happy’, which has been given the Stevie-loopage makeover. It’s a great song anyway, and suits my tinkering rather well..

The other is on L’s myspace page and is a version of Black Hole Sun – it’s the arrangement that Cleveland Watkiss and I first came up with ages ago, that Julie and I used at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest last year, and which L adds her own lovely flava to… Good work, fiddy!

Which all means we’ve got work to do on getting this live album together in the next couple of months…

NYC gig

So last night was my first ever New York gig, at Mo Pitkins – a fabulous lil’ venue in Manhattan. When I got to the venue (with Sue, Nigel and Lobelia), Chris McIntosh (AKA Grandfather Rock, radio DJ and tireless advocate for great music) and Kathryn (LA buddy, now in Pennsylvania) were already at the venue. Soon followed by more delightful and exceedingly lovely people – Janek, Chris Tarry, Suse, Susan Enan, Jeff Taylor, Amy Kohn, Laura from the Fringe, and a handful of other marvellous people.

I was still slightly jetlagged (my set didn’t start til 11.15pm), so the chat between songs was loose and at times probably total bollocks (what’s new there, eh?) but all seemed to go down well The Absolute highlight of the gig for me was doing three tunes with Lobelia – we did Black Hole Sun (in the arrangement that I did with both Cleveland Watkiss and Julie McKee) and then two amazing songs of her’s. She sang like an angel, and wowed our tiny but v. attentive audience. Much more where that came from, fo’ sho’.

The solo bit of the gig went – Behind Every Word, MMFSOG (with extended talky intro and stop in the middle to explain loopage), Scott Peck, Amo Amatis Amare… I’m sure there were others – did I really only do 5 tunes plus the vocal stuff? I certainly finished with Deeper Still… wow, maybe I did – I was talking a lot, that’s for sure….

Anyway, the people there seemed to love it, and it was great to catch up with so many great friends and musicians and to christen a new duo project in such a creatively successful way. I’ll post an MP3 as soon as I can…

So now, onto wandering around Manhattan, meeting lovely people, late night’s talking, late mornings lying in and generally having a fantastic time, before heading out to California for the madness that is NAMM. See you there!

Recycle Collective tonight

Go on, change your plans and come – you know you want to! It’s going to be magic. Me, Cleveland Watkiss, Huw Warren, a bunch of special guests from all across the musical map, all in the delightful surroundings of darbucka in Clerkenwell is the place for all the details.

go on, you know you want to.


Here's the press release for this month's Recycle gig… don't miss it!

1/11/06 Press release – Recycle Collective first
anniversary special, featuring Cleveland Watkiss,
Huw Warren and Steve Lawson

This November is the first anniversary of the beginning of the Recycle Collective. In the last 12 months, we’ve played host to some of the finest improvising musicians in the UK and beyond, and had many memorable nights of beautiful unique music.

Our first anniversary boasts another stunning line-up as solo bassist and Recycle Collective curator Steve Lawson is joined by singer/beatboxer/MC Cleveland
Watkiss and pianist Huw Warren.

Both Cleveland and Huw have been mainstays on the UK jazz scene for almost 20 years, celebrated for their inventive compositions and stunning improvisational ability. Cleveland’s recent focus on solo voice and live looping performances has added yet another layer to an already multifaceted career, ranging from jazz to opera, hip-hop to ambient electronica. Without doubt one of the most talented and versatile vocalists the UK has ever produced.

Huw Warren’s skills are equally diverse – whether free improvising with german double bassist Peter Herbert, playing Hymns from the Welsh Revival with Lleuwen Steffan, or writing music for the Scottish and Welsh Chamber Orchestras, through to accompanying singers June Tabor and Christine Tobin, he’s renowned for always playing the right thing at the right time. Effortlessly tasteful and prodigiously gifted, Huw’s presence at the Recycle Collective is very warmly anticipated.

Fresh back from a solo tour of Italy and Germany, Steve Lawson has steered the Recycle Collective to being one of London’s finest monthly live music events. Combining his own looped and layered bass work with the contributions of myriad fellow recyclists.

So come, bring friends, and be prepared for amazing music, special guests and a night of musical surprises in the perfect surroundings of Darbucka World Music Bar.

Date – Nov 15th Time – doors 7pm, music 8pm
Venue – Darbucka World Music Bar, Clerkenwell, London, EC1 4JZ
Nearest Tube – Farringdon
Tickets – £7/£5 concessions.

Tonight's Recycle gig

I just knew that the combination of me, BJ and Theo was going to be fab. And it was. Eventually… First I had to deal with a flat tyre, and one where the nut that the monkeys in the garage in Nottingham that replaced my break pads put on was a non-standard size and shape, resulting in me having to call the flippin’ AA out, for a flat! how loserish is that? Balls, I say, and again, Balls.

Anyway, the music was magical, and made up for the hassle of the car (except for poor TSP, who tripped down the stairs and twisted her ankle while sorting out the AA man, as I was on stage at the time).

The only downside to the evening was that it being a Thursday, there were a few more people just rolling up to the venue, some of them having been told on the phone by someone that it was a Salsa night and was free to get in. So big weirdness with some of them coming in and paying, but then talking through the gig, and others not coming in… All very odd and needing to be sorted out with venue owner. Darbucka is such a great place, I love playing there, but we’ve got to get this delineation between gig and club sorted out – I don’t mind friends of the owner coming in, but I do if they’re talking and messing it up for people who are listening. Having said that, it was a pretty small crowd and the guy’s guy to make some money on the evening… So, we’ll have a chat and sort it out. If needs be, I’ll move it to another venue, but I’d really rather not, as Darbucka is perfect in every other way. You can help by putting November the 15th in your diary now! that’ll be me, Cleveland Watkiss and Huw Warren, and hopefully some after hours recycling with special guests to celebrate the first birthday of the Recycle Collective! Yay! What fun. We’ve survived a year, we’ve a shed load of fantastic musicians, some small crowds, some big crowds, a great gig at Greenbelt. It’s been a lot of fun. This next year is time to step things up a little and see if we can take it out of being a little gig once a month to biggger more marketable thing for venues out of london… any suggestions on how to do this would be greatly appreciated. After all, despite lots of people telling me they think I’m good at promo, I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, and don’t seem to be able to get particularly big crowds along to these things, despite booking the finest musicians around. I’m not complaining, as the people who come along are lovely and appreciative and a pleasure to play for, and as the old cliche goes, the music is it’s own reward, but it’d be nice to find out the secret to getting a gig like this to happen three times a month to a coupla hundred people a time…

MOBO ditches Jazz

Just got this message from the lovely people at Dune records – apparently the organisers of the MOBO awards claim they can’t find four names to nominate for a Jazz category!!! are they mental?? Jazz in the UK is currently stronger creatively than it’s ever been – we’ve had UK independent jazz artists like Zoe Rahman and Polar Bear getting national recognition via the Mercury Music Prize, and some outstanding music coming from the Dune/Tomorrow’s Warriors stable. Musicians like Jason Yarde, Denis Baptiste, Dennis Rollins, Cleveland Watkiss, Soweto Kinch, Byron Wallen, Gary Crosby, Jazz Jamaica… there are LOADS of great black british jazz artists. Loads and Loads. And given that the MOBOs are about music of black origin, not even just black artists, there are even more to choose from.

I have no idea what the MOBOs are about these days – maybe it’s just about getting corporate sponsorship, and no-one was willing to sponsor the Jazz award.

Anyway, here’s the message from the people at Dune Records – have a read, and send an email…
The people behind the MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards have scrapped the award for Best Jazz Act.

Their excuse? They cannot find 4 names to put up for nomination! This is an outrage and serves to support the widespread view in the jazz community that the MOBO organisation – an organisation purporting to promote black music – is actively marginalising jazz and jazz artists. We have a hard enough job as it is reminding people that jazz IS black music so MOBO’s action is incredibly unhelpful to the jazz sector, and to the industry as a whole.

There are few enough opportunities for jazz artists to attract the limelight so we can well do without MOBO dropping this award.

Also, in light of new education initiatives to bring jazz into the national curriculum, their action is particularly counterproductive. Not sure why MOBO feel that our young people shouldn’t be exposed/have access to jazz – it is black music after all and an incredibly creative form of black music. They tried the same thing with the Gospel prize (last year?), leading many of us to believe that MOBO is seeking to disenfranchise the very people who created black music.

According to the MOBO Organisation Mission Statement, MOBO:

– identifies, showcases and celebrates music derived from black heritage
– is RnB, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Jazz….
– seeks to promote the history of music of black origin

MOBO’s action would suggest that it’s high time their Board of Directors were reminded of their remit and take remedial action to avoid a great deal of negative publicity surrounding this decision.

Everyone interested in getting jazz and jazz artists due recognition should complain bitterly to MOBO about this utterly nonsensical move.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7419 1800 or

Some very successful Recycling

Well, last night’s Recycle Collective gig was an absolute blinder! For starters, it was the biggest crowd we had so far (more than 80, possibly 90…), the air conditioning was just perfect after the sweatiness of London these last few weeks, and then there was the music…

I started off with a solo set – I sat down to play and realised that all my song-remembering space in my head was full of the New Standard tunes, and I wasn’t sure I could remember my own stuff! But thankfully they all went really well – definitely the best solo set I’ve played at the RC. Finished off the set with a lovely and slightly shorter than the album version of ‘One Step’ with Julie. Fab first set, well done me!

Then came The New Standard Edinburgh set – as y’all know, we’ve rehearsed long and hard for this, and it all went off without a glitch… well, without a noticeable glitch. Small screw up on the play out to the last tune, but I rescued it, and I v. much doubt anyone but Julie noticed. Julie sang beautifully, and the audience loved it. What fun!

And Set three started with two solo pieces by Cleveland Watkiss – the first a baroque counterpoint thing that was just sublime, and the second a dub/drum ‘n’ bass/gospel thing that was equally amazing. Two fine trio improvs finished off the evening, and everyone went away happy, Julie and I both sold lots of CDs (Cleveland is his usual style didn’t bring any merch).

I think Edinburgh’s going to be magique.

If you were there, please write a review, and post it in the comments here, or over in the forum – thanks for coming!

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