playing for other people

As much as I love playing solo, collaborating with other people is a huge part of my musical life. If you’re interested in hiring me for a project, or have a collaboration to suggest, please do get in touch!

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people I’ve played with/for – Aaron Gibson, 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, Quill, Ray Russell, Reeves Gabrels, Ric Hordinski, Richard Lewis, Rich Brown, 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

2019 – Steve Lawson – Stepping Stones
Steve Lawson – The Field Of Strategic Possibilities
Steve Lawson – Gift Of Patience
Steve Lawson – Time Is A Broken Lens
Aaron Gibson – Horror Films And Sunday School
Artemis/Steve Lawson/Daniel Berkman – Transfigure
Steve Lawson/Daniel Berkman/Artemis – Seeing Sound

2018 – Steve Lawson/Pete Fraser – Restless
Steve Lawson/Robert Logan – The Circle
Steve Lawson – Beauty And Desolation
Steve Lawson – The Dudley Bug
Steve Lawson/Michael Manring – Live At Round Midnight
Steve Lawson – Grace And Gratitude Revisited EP
Steve Lawson/Rich Brown – Texture Like Sun
Steve Lawson/Poppy Porter – Illuminated Loops II
Lawson/Edwards/Yaan-Zek – LEYlines III 
Steve Lawson – The Long Game
Steve Lawson/Robert Logan – Pulse

2017 – Steve Lawson/Bryan Corbett – Beautifully Disturbed
Steve Lawson/Corey Mwamba – Surprise
Yvonne Lyon – Metanoia
Steve Lawson – Small Is Beautiful
Steve Lawson – PS, You Are Brilliant
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

Timeline and Trivia

Musical Equipment Used

Elrick Gold Series SLC 6 String fretted and fretless basses, Modulus Basses (6 string fretted and fretless and 4 string fretted), 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, and Markbass overdrive pedals, a TC Electronics HOF mini Reverb and Flashback delay, Aguilar Overdrive, Fuzz, Compressor, Octave, Chorus, Filter and Preamp pedals, MXR Reverb, Sub Octave Bass Fuzz, 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, Danny Thompson, Eberhard Weber, Mike Rivard, Marc Johnson, Kermitt Driscoll, Mo Foster, Todd Johnson, Doug Wimbish, Yolanda Charles, Trip Wamsley, Divinity,  and loads more.

is this the most gig-heavy week of my life???

So three gigs last night! Started off with Estelle Kokot at The Octave in Covent Garden. The Octave could be a great venue. could be. Sadly, being as it’s in one of the most expensive places to own a bar in London, the guy who owns it is unlikely to actually apply the kind of strictures that would be needed to mean it wasn’t about a band trying desperately to play over the din of 200 people talking loudly. The venue want it both ways, so they book credible acts and charge a door fee, but don’t ask people to STFU. You can’t charge people £7 to listen over that noise.

Anyway, aside from that, Estelle was great, as she always is, as was Neville Malcolm on bass – one of my favourite players in London. Great feel, great sound, and a lovely bloke to boot.

Then Catster, my LJF gig-buddy, and I headed off to the QEH foyer to catch a bit of Marc Ribot doing a scronking improv thing on the free stage. Bits of it were great, bits were unfocussed. Like most squeaky gigs. Seb Rochford was on drums, and was great as ever – that’s three Seb-gigs in two days. Clearly I’m stalking him.

Also ran into lots of other lovely people there – Andrew Cronshaw, whose album Ochre is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time, and I haven’t seen for quite a while, was there, so lovely to catch up with him. He’s got a new gig he’s booking called Half The World – a series at Pizza On The Park in London, that looks amazing. Check that out.

And finally, gig number 3 back to the Vortex, to see Huw Warren and Lleuwen Steffan doing their sublime hymns project, along with some new tracks from Lleuwen’s just-finished-but-not-out-for-a-while album. They were, as expected, amazing. Of course. One of my favourite gigs to see anywhere. The hymns are deeply moving and beautiful, Lleuwen’s own songs are a heady mix of classic jazz with left-field singer/songwriter stuff and a dose of pure originality. And Welsh is such a beautiful sung language. It was made for singing. More people should sing in Welsh, and less loser audiences should feel put off by it. She deserves to be the next Beth Gibbons or Madeleine Peroux. I think she’ll just continue to be the first Lleuwen, which is just fine. And Huw – lovely bloke, great player, writer of stunning music. Always a pleasure to listen to him play.

Home at some god forsaken hour, but a worthwhile late night, fo’ sho’.

Polar Bear and EST at the Barbican

So Catster and her ticket connections came up trumps again last night (yay Catster!), and we headed off to see Polar Bear and EST at the Barbican. Polar Bear is Seb Rochford’s band, Seb you’ll remember came and graced the Recycle Collective with his lovely presence back in August.

So following a drinks and nibbles corporate reception beforehand (including the surprise appearance of lots of lovely people – the Gay Gordons, Julie and Mark and assorted friends), we headed in to see Polar Bear. I’d never seen them live before, and was completely blown away. I’ve always loved Seb’s drumming since we first played together years ago, and am very familiar with Mark Lockheart’s great sax playing. But the whole band – rounded out by Pete Wareham on sax, Tom Herbert on bass and Leafcutter John on noises – were a revelation. Fresh, exciting, edgy, funny, chaotic, original music, with great tunes, fantastic spikey feels, and god-know-what weird noises from John, sampling bowed cymbals, balloons, the rest of the band and anything else. A really really great gig. Seb’s between song banter was on top form, and the audience were well and truly seduced.

And then EST – the poster boys of icy scandinavian cool. Like characters from a Nokia advert, or Bond villains. Not a note out of place. The sound, lights, staging, smoke – everything, perfect. Too perfect. After the danger and excitement of Polar Bear, it all felt like it was too good to be true. It wasn’t in any way a bad gig, far from it. A couple of the tunes were so impossibly beautiful they took your breath away. It just didn’t connect in the same way. I wonder if there’d been no opening act, if I’d have been deeper into it. I wasn’t NOT into it. At all. It was great. It just felt like an orchestral performance masquerading as improv. I’m really glad I saw them, and I may well even get the new album – on CD, that kind of perfection is welcome – but for me, the night belonged to Polar Bear.

Bumped into yet more very lovely people after the gig – my coat came in most useful again, as the sublime Zoe Rahman came up and said ‘you’re steve aren’t you? We’re myspace friends’, along with her squeeze, Patrick Illingworth. CDs were swapped, laughs were had, plans were hatched, and all was good. Also saw Julian Maynard-Smith – a fabulous jazz writer, who interviewed me for Unknown Public (I still haven’t seen the final article, but the transcript that he sent me was the most interesting interview I’ve ever done) – very nice to catch up.

And then late night, I headed down to The Vortex to hear Seb and John play AGAIN, this time playing a bunch of chaotic crazy improvs with Mandy Drummond on violin and piano, and a bloke who looked like he was in Franz Ferdinand on recorders and voice. Some of it was magic, some of it was nonsense, all of it was risky and fun. A lot of it was hilarious. It wasn’t even close to being safe. Yay for noisy squeaky improv!

And tonight, if I’m well enough, I’m off to see Estelle Kokot at the Octave, and then Huw Warren with Lleuwen Steffan at the Vortex. The London Jazz Festival is one seriously busy couple of weeks!

A solo theremin gig???

Yup, that was the first half of the gig I saw last night – Pamelia Kurstin’s gig at The Vortex was one I happened upon while looking at their website for something else entirely last week. When I saw that her two collaborators on the gig were Seb Rochford and A< HREF=http://www.liamnoble.co.uk/>Liam Noble, it was a sure thing – had to see that.

The first half of the gig was a solo looped Theremin set – Pamelia was using two DL4s and an EH Bass Microsynth – and the first 20 minutes of it was captivating. After that it was still good, it’s just tricky to sustain that level of interest without varying the arrangement ideas (would love to hear what she’d do with a Looperlative instead of the DL4s).

The second half was wonderful – lots of mad squeaky gate improv stuff with Seb on drums and Liam on piano. Both guys are such great and original improvisors, and worked really well with the theremin craziness coming from Pamelia, who veered from violin territory to clarinet tones to the sound of a pizzicato double bass. Fascinating stuff. All in all a top gig, and I’ll have to get her for the Recycle Collective next time she’s in London!

What was also most fun about the night was the number of other players that showed up – Julian Seigel, Estelle Kokot, Mandy Drummond, Phil Robson, Dylan Bates, Jason Broadbent – a most enjoyable jazz-hang! And what’s more, the Vortex are wanting to book the trio from August’s RC gig – me, seb and Andy Hamill – for a gig in Jan/Feb! Yay! And I got booked for a gig with Estelle in a couple of weeks time – more on that soon…

Preparation for tonight's gig…

Just getting sorted for tonight’s Recycle Collective gig. I’ve not done an improv gig with a drummer for ages… probably since I last played with Seb Rochford, in Brighton! So that’ll be fun – I’m hoping we can find a way to mic the kit and loop the drums as well, but even if we can’t, it’s going to be so much fun.

Andy Hamill is threatening to bring a harmonica and do a couple of solo things with bass and harp, which is going to be great – these gigs have become such an oasis of relentless creativity and fun in each month for me, I really look forward to them.

If you’re in London, please come down!

Third musician for the April Recycle Collective!

Well, it’s been an enouraging couple of weeks. I’ve been asking lots of lovely musicians to take part in the Recycle Collective, with a very very positive response. Those who’ve said they want to take part in the future include Seb Rochford, Byron Wallen, Andy Hamill, Rebecca Hollweg and Oroh Angiama. Lots of fantastic musicians, all lovely people too!

And what’s more, the third musician that’s playing with Cleveland Watkiss and I on April 29th is Leo Abrahams, an amazing guitarist and looper that I first saw live playing with Imogen Heap and Nik Kershaw at the Kashmir Klub about 5 years ago, and who played after me at Greenbelt last year. He’s hugely in demand, working recently with Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt, Stairstailor, David Holmes and others, and having worked in the past with Paul Simon and Nick Cave amongst others. I’m so excited about both hearing Leo’s solo set, and what he Cleveland and I will come up with as a trio!

Head over to Leo’s myspace page to hear some of his lovely solo music.

All this means that the Recycle Collective continues to be unmissable.

Ingrid Laubrock at the Vortex

Last night was my third time at the Vortex in a week – fourth time in two weeks – this time to see Ingrid Laubrock, who was there with her quartet – Seb Rochford on drums, larry bartley on bass and Barry Green on piano.

It was a much more ‘jazz’ gig than anything I’ve been to for a while, a ‘ting ting t-ting’ gig, but with plenty of interesting moments and some really interesting compositions. It’s really nice to hear a tenor player who’s not gone the Coltrane/Brecker route – Ingrid’s sound seems closer to a Dexter Gordon/Joe Henderson sound, which her compositions are more like 70s-miles mixed with 60s Wayne Shorter and a fair dose of avante garde weirdness. All good stuff.

The main attraction for me was seeing Seb Rochford play – I did a gig with Seb a while ago ( thought it was three years ago, he says less than two years… will have to check back into my old blog…) down in Brighton, with Tess Garroway, which was a fantastic experience. He was clearly a remarkable player then, and it’s been in my mind to get him involved in something every since (I haven’t worked with a drummer on a me-project since, so it still hasn’t happened…). Since then, he’s gone on to come one of the emerging stars of the British jazz scene, with his bands Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland – Polar Bear having been nominated for the Mercury Music Award this year, and Acoustic Ladyland having been on Jools Holland’s show.

His play with Ingrid was fabulously inventive, deconstructing the implied rhythm of the tune into shards of time that bore little metric relation to the initial pulse but carried the intention of the tune forward in a way that ‘normal’ jazz drumming just wouldn’t have done. Really inspiring playing.

Both Polar Bear and Ingrid’s band are playing a Christmas party on 15th december at “The Others”, 6-8 Manor Road, Stoke Newington. Sounds like it could be an amazing night.

[edit – the gig with Seb was Sept 17th 2003…]

Soundtrack – Peter Gabriel, ‘Up’.

the Vortex

Been spending far too much time at The New Vortex this last couple of weeks – last week I was there for Dudley Philips album launch gig, then Tuesday I went to see Lleuwen Steffan and her band. Last night was the Works.

Lleuwen is the singer on that welsh hymns album I was raving about last week – still getting lots of airplay here, definitely in my top 5 of the year. The gig on Tuesday was with her band, Acoustique, which featured, unbenownst to me until I got there, my buddy Owen Lloyd Evans on bass. Their set didn’t feature any of the hymn tunes, but did have a lot of originals, sung in Welsh that sounded a bit like a more funky, acoustic Bjork. Lovely stuff. They did a couple of standards, which were fine, but it was the welsh language stuff that really shone. Definitely one to look out for and see if you can.

the Works, formerly known as WoodWorks, is Patrick Wood’s marvellous band – Patrick is surprisingly little-known on the London jazz scene, despite his band acting as breeding ground for so many great musicians in the city – the list of who’s been in the band at one time or another is nuts, from John Etheridge to Andy Gangadeen, Cleveland Watkiss to Tony Remy.

The current line-up is Patrick on keys and guitar, Mark Lockheart on saxes and bass clarinet, Neville Malcom on bass and Nic France on drums. The tunes are lovely open forms that the band jam on and stretch out live – lots of eye contact and hardcore listening going on. The small audience were much appreciative, and hopefully they’ll be playing again soon so you can go see them too!

Both these gigs are yet more evidence that the London jazz scene is producing music of a quality to rival any jazz city on the planet. the Vortex is such a vital venue, and after the sadness of the original vortex closing, it’s great to have it back with the same eclectic booking policy in a great new venue in Stoke Newington. check out their online programme on the website and go see some stuff there!

I’ll almost certainly be back there tonight for Ingrid Laubrook’s quartet, featuring the marvellous Seb Rochford on drums.

And keep an eye out for Theo and I playing there in February.

Plan for today – some teaching this morning, Theo round this afternoon to plan our february tour promotion etc. Some bass practice/R&D for the album after that, and then to see Ingrid play tonight.

Soundtrack – The Pixies, ‘Bossanova’.

Mercury Music prize…

This year’s nominees –

· Antony and the Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
· Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
· Coldplay – X&Y
· The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike
· Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV
· KT Tunstall – Eye to the Telescope
· Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
· The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
· Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger
· M.I.A. – Arular
· Polar Bear – Held on the Tips of Fingers
· Seth Lakeman – Kitty Jay

according to The Guardian, the Kaiser Chiefs are the bookie’s favourite, but it’d be fantastic to see either Polar Bear or Seth Lakeman win. Seth’s album is fantastic – I bought it when he played at The Bedford about a year ago – a lovely acoustic folk record, in the same tradition as Eliza Carthy, Cara Dillon etc. Polar Bear are one of the crazy jazz outfits featuring drummer extraordinaire, Seb Rochford, an amazing drummer that I did a gig in Brighton with once – he’s the only drummer I’ve ever met who could follow my glitchy everso-slightly-out-of-time loopage without any kind of sync or click – a great player, with fantastic hair, and a couple of marvellous bands (the other being Acoustic Ladyland).

I have to confess to having no idea who most of the bands are on the list – I’ve never heard Maximo Park or The Go Team or MIA or Hard Fi, or Bloc Party, or Anthony and ‘The Johnsons’ (that’s really the band name??) – I’ve got the KT Tunstall album, which is cool, and I like what I’ve heard of The Magic Numbers, though was totally underwhelmed by what I heard of The Kaiser Chiefs. So I think Seth would get my vote, if I were on the panel (though, if I was on the panel, I think I’d probably have heard all the other albums by now too…)

Soundtrack – Janis Joplin, ‘I Got Dem Ole Kosmic Blues Again, Mama’ (you, you can keep Joss Stone, I’ll stick with Janis.)