Recycle-type things across the globe…

Just got an email from the delightful and lovely Doug Lunn – an amazing bassist and human being from Santa Monica, CA. He’s got a gig coming up with guitarist Mike Keneally, and it sounds very Recycle-esque… or rather The RC sounds very ‘Circus Of Values’-esque, as Keneally was clearly doing it first – read this;

“Hello there, MK here — I hope you’re doing well and that 2006 has been OK for you so far. Thanks for reading this!
I want to let you know about some stuff – here’s “stuff fragment” number one:
CIRCUS OF VALUES re-ignites THIS WEEK The first round of Circus of Values was a series of improvised shows I hosted at Dizzy’s in San Diego, back around five years ago. Each one had a different theme and title, and a different group of players. All of the music was invented on the spot. It’s time for another round of this madness. I’m
very happy to be returning to Dizzy’s (a super-cool spot to hear music) for another series of Circus Of Values performances.
I’m very delighted to report that Chad Wackerman (drums) and Doug Lunn (bass) will join me for the first show of the new Circus of Values series; the performance is entitled “Ah Mr. Solid Gasoline.”
Here’s details for y’all:
Mike’s intimate improvisation series
Mike Keneally’s Circus of Values
returns to
344 Seventh Avenue
(between J & K, on the edge of San Diego’s East
San Diego, CA 92101
Thursday, September 7, 2006
8:00 p.m.
Tonight’s episode: “AH MR. SOLID GASOLINE”
Featuring Chad Wackerman and Doug Lunn
Tickets: $15
All ages welcome
Info: 858.270.7467
All attendees will receive a special exclusive concert program with odd art and text by me. Please be an attendee! (Check later in this email for the dates of two more Circus Of Values shows.)”

Sounds very Recycle-ish to me – and such great players! Doug’s a remarkable bassist, and Chad’s, well, Chad; a percussive legend. Definitely one that’s worth the drive if you’re in Southern California

fantastic ticket offer for gigs next week!

Wow – I’ve just managed to hook up a fantastic deal for anyone who wants to take advantage of it –

The night before the next Recycle Collective gig, Erkan Ogur is playing at the QEH – he’s an AMAZING guitarist, like a turkish-tinged Metheny/Frisell/Stern type player. His latest album is gorgeous, I’ve been listening to it a fair bit recently.

Thanks to a bit of negotiating, I’ve lined up a deal whereby if you get a ticket for Erkan’s gig at the QEH, you can bring the ticket stub along to the Recycle Collective gig the following night, and get in FREE! So it becomes four flavours of guitar, over two nights!

here’s the deets about Erkan’s gig – go see him play (I’ll be there, come and find me and say hi if you’re coming) and then come see us at Darbucka the following day!

Wednesday 15 MARCH 2006

” Erkan OÄŸur is one of those remarkable musicians who spins beguiling poetry out of his astonishing technique and passionate musicianship” Fiona Talkington, BBC Radio 3
“a player who does not waste a single note unless it is filtered through his soul; his fretless guitar playing is simply magical.” Antonio Forcione
“Erkan OÄŸur is a wonderful musician whose music has made an impact on my playing.” Eivind Aarset

Something like a meeting of Metheny, Gismonti and Scofield on a sometimes Quiet Night in Anatolia. Fretted, and fretless acoustic and electric guitars as well as the ancient Anatolian instrument, kopuz lute. With Ilkin Deniz (bass) and Turgut Alp Bekoglu (drums). A unique jazz project that draws on Turkish scales and melodies with Oğur’s fabulous improvisations. A UK PREMIERE. Read more. TELVIN will record a session for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction the day before.

With support from Parisian guitarist Yan Vagh (nylon and 10-string fretless guitars).

Tickets £20 / £17.50 / £12.50
08703 800 400

Death of a legend

I don’t know too many of the details at the moment, but I’ve just read on another list that the great free improv pioneer Derek Bailey died on Christmas Day. I never met Derek, and the only gig of his I ever saw was a huge disappointment, but we have lots of friends in common, and his influence on the free improv world is hard to put into words. A phenomenal free thinking musician, who went from dance band side man to possibly the most abrasive sounding guitarist the world has ever seen. Uncompromising and hugely skilled, but willing to apply his notion of ‘ad-hoc musical experiences’ to his playing life even when he reached the point where his fame was so great that he recorded a record with Pat Metheny.

His book on Improvisation is a great read too – I learned a heck of a lot from that.

Rest in peace, Derek, you’ll be sorely missed.

Blimey, has it been that long???

Well, what’s happened since I last blogged? Well firstly, my hard-drive is fixed!! Yippee!! I got loads and loads of offers of help from blog-readers, one of which was an offer from Ted to fix the drive if I shipped it to him in Portland, Oregon. So I did, and he fixed it, and shipped it back, and all it’s cost me is a the cost of the new drive and shipping each way. Amazing. Huge gratitude to Ted for that!

For all of last week, I was on Lindisfarne (AKA Holy Island), off the coast of Northumberland, teaching at the Borders School For Life. The idea behind the school is based on the Scandinavian folk high school idea, where learning is pretty much for the sake of learning, rather than for the certificate that you get at the end of it.

The theme for this week was spirituality and ecology, the the many talks, classes and workshops took in themes of the Celtic history of the Island and Northumberland (Lindisfarne was pretty much the first home of the Celtic Christians in England), some stuff on the wildlife in the area, the notion of nature as sacrament, and some other ecological and economic stuff.

There was also a strong creativity thread, which included garden design, all sorts of arty things, and me doing a series on the parallels between music and language, and how to see music as an extended metaphor for communication – looking at music theory and improvisation and examples of language and conversation… It went very well, and much fun was had by all. The rest of the tutors included lots of experts in their field – professors of economics and sociology, design lecturers, authors and the director of the centre for human ecology! All round a marvellous week, and one I’m sure I’ll go back to next year whether I’m teaching or not…

Since getting home, the small person and I have been to a friend’s wedding, and installed a waterfall in the garden, that given the current heatwave has been doubling up as a foot spa. mmmmmmmmm.

So this week is going to be lots of teaching, getting back up to date with the duo album with Theo Travis (artwork nearly finished, just final touches needed on the track mixing), and then off to Italy for a gig on Thursday night!

SoundtrackThe Cure, ‘Disintigration’ & ‘Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me’; Cloud Chamber, ‘Dark Matter’; Phil Keaggy, ‘Acoustic Sketches’; Bruce Cockburn, ‘You’ve Never Seen Everything’; Paul Simon, ‘One Trick Pony’; Gary Peacock and Ralph Towner, ‘A Closer View’.

Essential Reading…

following on from essential listening, how about essential reading – a by no means exhaustive 5 essential books for musos – feel free to email me with other suggestions…

  • Beyond The Bass Clef – Tony Levin (stories, tips, anecdotes. Genius)
  • The Inner Game Of Music – Barry Greene (probably THE most important. A life changing book)
  • Effortless Mastery – Kenny Werner (tonnes of great advice here, in amongst some new age waffle. Enough top quality wonderfulness to more than warrant the cover price)
  • Improvisation – Derek Bailey (his writing is way more exciting than his music, IMHO – a fascinating book)
  • The Jazz Theory Book – Mark Levine (much more nuts ‘n’ bolts that any of the others, but pretty darn comprehensive!)

There you go.

SoundtrackPrince, ‘Sign O’ The Times’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Travelogue’; King Crimson, ‘Discipline’; Stevie Wonder, ‘Songs In The Key OF Life’.


I’m feeling rather lucky at the moment – Tuesday night, lovely Jez came round, went out for a curry, then had a jam for an hour… playing music with Jez is always a treat – he’s a very very musical chap, great listener, and exceedingly creative improviser (as those of you who have conversations will no doubt be aware) – the kind of stuff we play changes depending on our mood, the instrument (normally he’s playing an electric piano, here he was playing a real one), the room, whether I’m looping or not (I wasn’t), and whatever we’ve both been playing recently. So it really is very conversational, and quite revealing as to how we’re feeling…

Then, last night was the radio broadcast for LCR, which included lots of duo improv with Antoine Farfad – a bassist who was using a V-Bass processor to get some great synth sounds. More improv, very different context, and with someone I’d never met before let alone played with. So the whole thing was very different from the jez setting, but just as rewarding. Antoine’s playing was marvellous – something you’ll be able to check out next week when the show gets archived at the radio station website. I’ll add a link as soon as it’s there…

Then, this Sunday, I’m off to Brighton to play with Tess Garroway (see gigs page for details) – a jazz singer with a heavily improvisational slant. Just got a CD of her stuff yesterday which is excellent (listening to it right now). What fun – all this improv is great for developing listening skills, new approaches, learning new ideas, and finding new contexts for stuff that I already do…

What fun!

What else has been happening? er, lots of teaching, which has been great – new students, old students, lots of very interesting people with a desire to learn.

Got the new copy of Q through… very disappointing. Christina Aguilera on the cover? Q? huh? not good. And, in their 50 most outrageous people in rock article, GG Allin doesn’t get a look-in. And frankly, if there were a more outrageous person in the music industry, they’d probably be dead by now… GG made Marilyn Manson look like Cliff… a true nutter, very sad case, and now dead, which wasn’t a surprise to anyone. Supposedly there’s a documentary about him somewhere, but I’m not sure I’d have the stomach to watch it… dark stuff…

but I digress.

So today – teaching, and a workshop for a church band down in Kent tonight, which should be a lot of fun.

Soundtrack – lots of Mike Watt, mainly ‘Ball-Hog Or Tug Boat?’, which is marvellous. Also, this Tess Garroway CD, which is a mixture of live and studio stuff, and is very good. what else? ah, Lewis Taylor’s first album, which is unbelieveably good. Amazing. Genius.

Some interesting recent listening

Back when I was in school (late 80s), we had a small group of friends who would all head down to fat george’s record shop on Bridge Street in Berwick on a Saturday morning to order records… any old records… the more obscure the better.

In those pre-internet times, the source of all knowledge about what was available was the Music Maker Publications big red book of records, which listed just about everything that was on general release.

I bought some great stuff through that, and some total bollocks. Great stuff, like Steve Berry – ‘Trio’, John Zorn – ‘Spillane’, the best of Weather Report etc. etc… and some rubbish like ‘Electric Storm in Hell’ by White Noise…

One record that we all really wanted to get but could never find was ‘Ladies Don’t Have Willies’ by a band called 64 Spoons. It seemed like the most preposterous title for a single – add to that the daft band name, and we had to know what it sounded like. But sadly, week after week, George couldn’t find it, it was out of print… whatever, it never turned up.

Fast forward 15 years, and in the last two tours I’ve done, with the Schizoid Band and Level 42, I’ve been touring with two ex-members of said Spoons! Jakko Jakszyk (guitar/vox with Schizoids) and Lyndon Conner (keys/vox with L42) were both in 64 Spoons!

Enter not-at-all-evil Dann, delving deep into his extensive CD collection to provide an early 90s compilation of Spoonerisms from the late 70s/early 80s… and bizarrely enough, it’s pretty good. Very good in places. Very silly and self conscious in other places, but sort of Squeeze meets Cat-Food era Crimson, meets Joe Jackson with a touch of Blockheads-funk… The kind of thing, that were it more widely known, would now be forcing people onto the dance floor at events.

Still haven’t heard Ladies Don’t Have Willies though…

After that, the next CD I listened to couldn’t be more different Juldeh Camara is a West African singer/composer and player of the one string fiddle! I first heard his stuff on Charlie Gillett’s show on BBC London, but then met up with Duncan Noble – a bassist who has assembled a touring project with Juldeh, playing in the UK early next year.

It’s amazing how Juldeh manages to keep your attention… even mesmerise you with just fiddle and voice. And judging by the range of material on the CDR that Duncan gave me, he’s more than happy to recontextualise his playing and writing into whatever setting is around, from acoustic blues to funk/soul stuff… I really hope that their tour doesn’t clash with my dates in California next year, as I’d love to see this live…

Finally got stuck into the last chapter of Derek Bailey’s ‘Improvisation – its nature and practice in music’ book last night. It’s an amazing book, but I do have a habit of dropping books somewhere in or around the last chapter… seems to be a theme running through my life (do half the washing up, write half a song, tidy half my office, etc. etc…)

Anyway, the last chapter is all about the Musicians Improvisors Collective (MIC – I think that’s what it stands for…), and is very interesting indeed. The whole book is very highly recommended for anyone interested in improv and its relationship to music making as a whole…

Busy day today – meeting Jam-comedy-writer this afternoon, and going to see Moby play tonight… well, going to meet up with Greta Brinkman, who happens to be playing with Moby. Evil Harv’s coming as well, so that’ll be my dose of eville for the week sorted then…

before that, need to tidy up here, as my mum arrives for a short stay later on. Always nice to see my mum, cos she’s great!

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