Say what you have to say…

Miles Davis used to tell his musicians to say what they’ve got to say then STFU. If they didn’t have anything to say, stay quiet, don’t take solos for the sake of it.

The talks at St Luke’s are a bit like that – often very short, sometimes slightly longer, usually including some pretty amazing thoughts, concepts, insight etc. but pretty much always the right length. Avoiding what James Brown called ‘talking loud and saying nothing’.

The St Lukes website has an archive of a handful of talks, if you fancy a little meditative oasis in the middle of your day…

Soundtrack – me and BJ Cole – listening through a few of the duet recordings from earlier in the year. Some lovely stuff there!

an offer I couldn't refuse…

Church today was a ‘service of thanksgiving for Jasmine and Angus’ – Paul and Rachel’s kids, and I was Angus’ Godfather… I was asked to be godfather a few weeks ago, and accepted with pleasure – being a godparent is a big responsibility (you’re making yourself to a greater or lesser degree responsible for the spiritual and social development of the child), but one I relish. I knew I’d done the right thing when Paul and Rachel dressed Angus in a tiny Kilt for the day – makes my job of getting him to dress like a freak a lot easier if he’s already into wearing skirts… 😉

anyway, here we are –

Was meant to be going uptown to meet Sarda‘s fiance this evening, but sadly we had a tyre blow out on the car on the way back from dinner with paul and rachel! The car hit a pothole, and it knackered not only the tyre, but the wheel itself! Then we discovered that the spare was flat, so had to call out Dave-The-Vicar who lives near where we broke down, to help us out with a hand pump, which fortunately did the trick. Got home too late to go and meet up with Sarda.

Last night was the St Luke’s Auction – a now yearly event, raising money for different things each time, this time it was to referb the church kitchen, and we raised

A trip back in time…

Saturday night, The Cheat and I went to see Level 42 in Guildford, which was obviously a very different trip down memory lane than it was for the people who’d just come to hear some great pop tunes from their childhood… It was great to catch up with the guys in the band and crew, and to say hi to a few people in the audience who remembered me from the support slot last year (and to be refered to as ‘Chicken Man’… which was slightly unnerving and flattering at the same time… perhaps I need a feathered coat instead of the furry one… :o)

Anyway, it all brought back lots of fine memories, and the band played really well – slightly different set list from last year, with some really nice unexpected additions to the set list. Didn’t get home til the early hours of sunday morning.

Sunday was fun – one of the tunes from ‘Open Spaces’ was used as a musical interlude in part of the St Luke’s service, and then last night I spent a few fun hours catching up with David Torn – a very busy chap, and astonishing musician who’s playing around England this week with Tim Berne, so I’m going to three of the gigs – London, OXford and Birmingham.

And today, the new dyson arrived… :o) Ahh, domestic bliss. Took me a while to figure out how to get it working properly (what? programming effects units and operating four loopers at once I can handle, using a vacuum cleaner is a whole other world…) but once I did, we were away!

And now I’m waiting for a BT engineer to arrive, and while I’m doing that I’m listening to The Late Junction on BBC Radio 3, who last week played Flutter from ‘For The Love Of Open Spaces’ – fantastic! The Late Junction is a very very cool and very eclectic show, which I listen to a lot anyway, so getting airplay there is marvellous. you can hear an archive of the show – it’s the wednesday show in the ‘listen on demand’ archive, and you can see the playlist here – if you do listen to it, please email them and tell them how much you enjoyed hearing us on the radio!

so now I’m going to get on with mixing some of hte tracks from the Italian sessions of a few months ago…

Soundtrack – right now, The Late Junction. before that more of Rob Jackson, and John McLaughlin, ‘Que Alegria’.

try again

OK, so this is my second attempt at writing this, having written a very long post earlier before my computer crashed nearing the end. Bugger…

anyway, here’s the bullet point version (I’m sure much to evil harv’s delight) –

on Saturday I went to a memorial service for a friend whose life was tragically cut short by cancer a couple of weeks ago. She was 29, had a baby and a husband – everything to live for, but the cancer had other ideas. The service was moving and beautiful, but nothing could hide the deep, painful merciless injustice of someone being cut down that early in life. I’ve no idea what her poor hubby is going through – he’s someone I’ve looked up to hugely for years, and I just hope that I can somehow be there for him now. The pain must be inconceivable.

Friday I got a new computer… well, some bits with which to construct a new computer having picked at the bones of my old one for whatever morsels could be rescued. the new chimera is pretty good, and The Captain was invaluable in building it for me – I’d have no idea how to put the damn thing together – software, I’m fine, hardware, forget it.

So the last few days have involved lots of installing of software, lots of trying to find email archives and diary archives etc. All great fun… but at least is all runs a bit quicker, and I’ve not got an extra external drive so I can back everything up. Some friends of mine were burgled this last week, and aside from the electronic stuff the had taken, they also lost a load of photos and film that was in the camera and camcorder, as well as a load of work that was on the PC – that’s terrible! I’m going to try and keep backups of everything so it can’t be stolen or lost or have my harddrive crash again… It’s such a pain as the actual stuff is hardly worth anything, but the work on it is very hard to replace…

anyway, today was a teaching day, and posting out of CD orders (yup, still getting orders for the older albums too! :o) this week I need to get the extra disc pressed up and sorted, so that it’s already to be sent out to all of you who’ve advanced ordered it by next week…

On the gig front, Italy this coming weekend is confirmed, but Stoke Newington on Nov 9th has been cancelled… comings and goings, hellos and goodbyes, bookings and cancellations. Thunder and Rainbows from the same sky. Friends dying, babies being born. All part of the cycle of life, but that doesn’t make the tragedy of death any easier to bear, the joy of birth any less marvellous. On that note, congrats to Johnny and Rosie, Geoff and Sarah and maybe to Steve and Linda by now, who knows… St Luke’s is awash with babies, with more on the way!

Soundtrack – Keith Jarrett trio, ‘Tokyo 96’; Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires, ‘Second Sight’; Joni Mitchell, ‘Hejira’; Charlie Haden & Hank Jones, ‘Steal Away’; recordings of me with BJ Cole and Orphy Robison, and with Luca Formentini, Moreno and Gianni in Italy.

A week in the life of…

…yep, sorry evil harv, I’m just going to write about what I’ve been up to again… ;o)

Main event of the week was another recording session with Theo Travis – I’d invested in a few new studio toys (a pair of powered monitors which make mixing a lot easier, and a new mic for recording flute/percussion etc…) so the session was better than ever, with some rather groovy results. The album’s really coming along – we’ve got loads of recordings to choose from already, but are in no hurry to just release anything. We’ll keep recording until we get a full album of stuff we love with no fillers. It’s slightly different to the way I normally work, in that we’re allowing ourselves to edit some of what we do (on one of the tracks we recorded on Thursday I removed an entire solo that I’d played, cos it was a bit dull…) but what you end up with at any one time is still just the two of us playing and looping in real time, with no additional overdubs… Theo was playing Soprano Sax as well on this session, which added a lot to what we were doing. It is, I guarantee, going to be a stellar album.

Thursday night, Evil Harv, Jimbob (AKA Sarda) and a couple of other chums went down to the Kashmir Klub – possibly London’s most important music venue, in that it costs nowt to get in, no-one gets paid, but the quality of the acts on is (usually) very high, (I played there with Susan Enan once) with occasional high profile people there (Lewis Taylor played there a lot earlier this year, and I’ve seen Nick Kershaw, Imogen Heap, The Dum Dums, Nerina Pallot and Doctor Robert (from the Blow Monkeys) play there). Anyway, Thursday wasn’t a great line up (better than most acoustic nights around, but not really up to The Kashmir’s usual standard) so we went off for coffee instead. The sad news is that the Kashmir is closing, at least for a time – the guy who owns the venue is doing something else with it, and despite them filling it night after night, he’s kicking them out. They are looking for a new venue, but who knows how long that will be. Please visit the website, and if you can sign petitions, write letters or just offer moral support to Tony Moore who’s been running it for 5 years, please do. It’s a great club, he’s a great bloke and London needs it.

Today, Evil Harv and I went to the London Guitar Show, at Wembley Conference Centre. It was fun, though alongside the NAMM show, it feels a little small and parochial. As most of the people there hadn’t been to NAMM, it was fine (I remember loving shows like that when I was a kid), and it was great to catch up with some friends I’d not seen for a while – Nick Beggs was playing on the Bass Guitar Magazine stand, doing his rather fabulous stick thang. It was fun to see the rest of the guys from BGM too. I had a nice chat and a coffee with John East, who makes the U-Retro preamp that I’ve got in my 6 string fretless, and bumped into Svetlana, who used to teach at BassTech, and is now playing bass for Moby! Also saw the Ashdown people, Nick Owen from the Bass Centre, lovely Hoda who now works for SWR and The Bass Centre, and all manner of other people that I only ever see at trade shows!

Another bizarre coincidence – was chatting to Barry Moorhouse from the Bass Centre about wanting to do more support slots. ‘You know who you should support’ says Barry, ‘The 21st Century Schizoid Band!’ – ‘I already have’ says me, and as I’m saying it, up comes Jakko Jakszyk, guitars from the Schizoids. which was a lovely surprise, as I’ve not seen Jakko since I did the tour with the them at the tail end of last year… We caught up on news and then I came home.

soundtrack – yesterday was the St Luke’s May Fayre, so I’ve got the usual haul of CDs, though it’s rather fewer than some years… Right now I’m listening to Lucious Jackson, ‘Fever In Fever Out’, which is rather good. Yesterday it was John McLaughlin, ‘Que Alegria’, which is also rather good, if a little note-heavy in places. Theo leant me a marvellous album – Arild Andersen, ‘The Molde Concert’, feature Bill Frisell on guitar – gonna have to buy that one. And in the car I’ve had Talk Talk, ‘Laughing Stock’ on regular rotation. And of course, in between all that, lots of the duo stuff with Theo…

Peace-Party In The Park…

here are some photos from London’s stop the war march on Saturday, taken by me… they aren’t great, sorry. It was an amazing feeling joining with more than a million other people to voice our discontent at the bizarre way the US and UK governments are going about trying to engineer an attack on Iraq. This was democracy in action, and hopefully will have scared the shit out of Bush and Blair if they think they can go around flattening cities and killing untold thousands of innocent people without the people they are supposed to represent getting rid of them. Tony, your days are numbered.

Anyway, the march itself was a fantastic experience – I was walking with my mum, and met up with loads of people from St Luke’s as well as bumping into Vibraphonist Orphy Robinson along the way. Loads of other people I knew were there, but in a crowd of more than a million, what chance to you have of meeting up? Actually, I did meet up with Dave and James, who both probably knew where I was because they both, at different times, are the man who knows – a concept I shall explain at greater length later.

anywhere, here’s the piccies…









Cold Cold Ground

Bleedin’ heck, it’s COLD!!!!! Freezin’, even!!

Our central heating still isn’t fixed, so we’ve got the electric heaters and the gas fire on full, trying to defrost our frozen tootsies… and my new slippers are helping too! See, I’m 30 now, so slippers are de riguer…

It’s ages since I last blogged, what have I been up to? Well lots of teaching – this week is, in fact, my busiest ever private teaching week (as in, I’ve done more teaching than this, but only when private stuff was combined with college teaching) – it all comes in very handy for going to the US…

Saturday evening was fun – first off went to ‘Up’ – a mellow and ambient alternative worship thingie in Thame, Oxfordshire – lots of candles, guided meditation things, mellow music, strange sensory things to ponder. All very chilled out, and a fine way to start the new year. Went straight from there to St Luke’s, where I was on duty overnight at the Homeless night shelter we have there for three months a year… all very uneventful, though it was great getting to talk to Becky, who was on duty with me, who I’d seen at church but not really had much of a chance to chat to.

Got one hour’s sleep overnight, so not surprisingly, I went straight to bed when I got home at 7am…

Watched a very interesting TV program last night called ‘without prejudice’ – basically a game show with no game, where instead of answering inane questions to win the prize, a panel of ‘normal’ people get to choose who they want to have the prize money (50 grand) based on a range of information, and their first impressions… the bizarre thing was that I found myself thinking that non of the people deserved the money… which is odd when contrasted with quiz shows, where apparently guessing the catch-phrase, keeping ‘out of the black and into the red’ or not being the weakest link are perfectly valid ways for people to receive silly amounts of money. Odd one, but worth watching.

Today I finally got round to buying a Bonsai tree – something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I bought a part-grown one, and if this works out, I may have a go at growing some from seed. What I do need though, is a name for my tree! so I need suggestions, and the winning suggestion will receive a CDR of ‘Beauty and The Beast’ and the new version of Highway 1 that are in MP3 form on my site – proper CD quality versions of them! So, name that bonzai – email me with your suggestions, please! I’ll try to post a picture of it as soon as I can, to help inspire you…

Soundtrack – just now been listening to Prefab Sprout, ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’, which is great and of curio value as my sister used to live in Langley Park… :o) Also been listening to Thelonius Monk, ‘Monk’s Greatest Hits’, which is fantastic – the writing and his melodic phrasing are out of the world; Duke Ellington and Ray Brown, ‘This One’s For Blanton’, Metheny/Haden, ‘Beyond The Missouri Sky’, Anita Baker, ‘Rapture’.

Curry, Theatre and the run up to Christmas

The Deep 2 Deep curry was great fun – organised by Wulf (and yes, he has brothers called Magnus and Leofrick…), 6 of us went out for curry. a fine time. Is having curry ever not a fine time? Wulf also had a CD of his bootleg of the Bass Centre clinic that I did with Michael Manring last month – not bad quality, so I’ll see if I can clean it up in Soundforge and put some of it on the website… We’ll see…

Anyway, Saturday was a great day too – not-at-all-evil-Dann proved his not-at-all-evilness by inviting me to the theatre to see The Play Wot I Wrote, at the Wyndhams theatre near Leicester Square (has evil harv ever taken me to the theatre? I think not… proving his evility) Anyway, the play was brilliant – lots of marvellous physical comedy, top gags, Morcambe and Wise routines (that’s the major theme of the play)… all great stuff. Why don’t I go to the theatre more often? It’s great! I really ought to… there’s new year’s resolution number 3 (the rest will be revealed at new year…)

Anyway, theatre followed by dinner with Dann and his not-at-all-evil family. Then home.

Also started reading Further Along The Road Less Travelled again – what a great book – a fantastic followup to ‘The Road Less Travelled’, sort of a bringing together of thinking on physcology and religion… fascinating stuff. I do like the way Scott Peck’s mind works, and will have to work my way through the rest of his stuff in the next year (Resolution #4?)

Found another cool 80s computer game on line – this time it’s Bomb Jack – not as addictive as the Helicopter Game (I’ve now got about 1760 on it, and the addictiveness of it is testified to by the thread that has been going on in the Miscillaneous forum at www.activebass.com about it!!

Today was the St Luke’s Nativity at church – always a pretty anarchic affair (particularly a couple of years ago when it was re-written to reference psycho half way through, Norman Bates having become the inn keeper!!!!) – the kiddies were on top form, and a fine time was had by all.

Then home to do the Christmas Food Shop. Asda was packed (shouldn’t have gone there…)

Soundtrack – a bit more of Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner, then the new Joni Mitchell CD, ‘Travelogue’ which is a series of orchestra + voice versions of her back catalogue. Her last album was her doing a load of standards with a couple of her own tunes thrown in which were the best tunes on the CD, heralding the way for this. It’s gorgeous, lush, sumptuous and a slight shame that there’s no new material on it at all. Very lovely indeed, and beautifully packaged, with lots of Joni’s paintings on the sleeve. And now I’m listening to Beauty And The Beast by Jez and me, which is also very good – you can download it from the MP3s page on the site, if you like, as a christmas pressie from Jez and I. It’s not available anywhere else…

Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Men…

…aft gan aglay… and that’s two nights of serious aglayness in a row! I’m
beginning to think that asking some mice to sort out my gigs for me was
not particularly a good idea…

After blogging yesterday, I went out and spoke to the workman, who said
they’d get the driveway entrance clear by 6… fine, I’ll go with that. Load
up the car, set off in small person’s small-person-car. No petrol. warning
light on. Think ‘oh, I’ll go to the second service station, it near enough’.
Car stalls going up hill… bugger. Restarts fine. Stalls again. twice. get’s to
petrol station, thankfully.

Arrive at St Luke’s, and notice that there’s no space to set up all my stuff…
Ring Justin-the-MD. he arrives back, and says that the – ehem – ‘ambient’
music at the beginning will be some jazz stuff – me, him and some sax
playing friend, playing off some charts from a rather ropey buskers fake
book. Guess I won’t be needing my amp or rack stuff… all of which is now
in my car outside the church (not really the kind of area you want to be
leaving musical equipment in the car in…) Also looks like the rest of the
evening is pretty much planned out… So I leave all the stuff in the car,
play the opening set through the amp that’s there (a really piss poor
sounding Peavey thingie…), and go home again…

Seems like they had a great night, but I’m not about to risk having the
small person’s small-person-transporter trashed and my music gear nicked
for anything…

And I missed out on a good gig in Norwich to be available. What bollocks.

Anyway, today, went to church this morning, which was nice, came home,
and have just spent the last few hours trying to fix the small person’s
iMac, which started doing that folder/?-symbol flashing thing, but then
when I booted it off the startup disk, didn’t even have the hard drive listed
as being on the computer. So it’s shagged, basically… not sure what to do.
Will have to go out and see Greenbelt-Britlinks-James who knows lots about
computers cos he’s dead clever, and see if he knows what to do…
Meanwhile small person will be working on this machine… See, more
plans gan algay – maybe she should stop letting mice plan the servicing of
her computer…

Soundtrack – me and Jez, David Sylvian’s ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’
(featuring the magical Danny Thompson on bass and David Torn on guitar),
and also Theo Travis, ‘Heart Of The Sun’ – proof that brits can do
contemporary jazz as well as anyone… quality stuff.

Taking the Rough With The Smooth…

Ah, what an eventful day yesterday was…

Started out teaching – all good so far. The no-at-all-evil-Dann arrived, we
packed up my amps/basses/toys etc. loaded them into the car and headed
of for Norwich, in good time. Hit traffic first on the M25 – so headed off up
the A10 instead of M11 – then again, very badly, on the A11 towards Norwich.
Got to the gig halfway through the collective soundcheck, unloaded my stuff,
then it took me 10 minutes to find a parking space (10 minutes we didn’t
have). Fortunately I wasn’t going through the PA (the joys of having an
Ashdown that sounds better than most PAs…), so soundcheck took
about 8 seconds once the gear was set up…

The gig itself was marvellous – started off with Darkroom, playing ambient
soundscape-y processed noise stuff (very good noise), I then joined in
over the top, they faded out, and I went from that improv into ‘No More Us
And Them’. From a very look bleepy version of that, I went into Highway 1,
at which point, fellow solo bassist Peter Chilvers joined in, played some
e-bow over the intro, and we were then joined by Roger Eno and Theo Travis on
acoustic guitar and sax respectively. What a
fantastic version of Highway 1!! I’m so glad it was recorded and can’t wait
to hear it. If the mix is anywhere close to OK, It’ll be magic… Roger was
playing some lovely arpeggiated stuff on acoustic guitar, while Theo and
I traded lines off each other, me with my Fripp-meets-Satch lead sound,
while Peter Chilvers kept the whole ambient side of it shifting and changing.
LovelyLovely.

I then faded out, and that trio continued, and then each act overlapped with
the last – Centrazoon, Andy Butler, GP Hall, Theo Travis. And after Theo’s
set, loads of us piled onto the stage for a remarkably coherent loop-jam,
with Tim Bowness, Theo and I trading melodies over some pretty marvellous
ambient waffle from Peter, Andy, Dave Montague, GP and the Darkroom
guys! All in all, a very fine evening’s music. The audience wasn’t huge, but
hey, that’s what happens when you go for quality over pop-credibility…

Getting the car back to the venue was a fun experience – Norwich has an
insane one-way system… Anyway, arrived back, and we all went off for a
drink and a chat. Very nice it was too, and many collaborations were
discussed and plans are afoot.

About 12.50, I jump in the car to come home. All is well, til I reach
Cockfosters (about two miles from home) and the engine cuts out and the
oil light comes on… fortunately I can roll the car most of the way to the
nearest Jet petrol station, and push it the last few feet. Put some oil in.
Still won’t start. Making odd noises. ring AA. 1.5 hours later, man arrives
with truck, ‘your cam belt’s broken’. Bugger. Big expense. Anyway, car
gets towed home, I unload the gear, and get to bed just after 4.30am!

Supposed to be teaching at 10am. Small person rings them at 9 to cancel.

Supposed to have a gig at St Luke’s tonight. Due to driveway restructuring,
small person’s small-person-car is inaccessible. Ring Justin (St Luke’s MD),
and leave message saying can’t make 2.30 rehearsal, maybe can’t get there
at all… Justin calls back says get a cab… maybe…

And here we are. Good gig, broken car. As The New Fast Automatic Daffodils
once wisely sang ‘Every silver lining has its cloud’…

Soundtrack – in the car, not-at-all-evil-Dann and I were listening to
all manner of stuff – Jane Siberry, Sigur Ros, Don Ross, SadHappy, Defeat
The Young, etc. etc. Then got sick of good music and put on ‘Long Cold
Winter’ by Cinderella, which I’m ashamed to say, stayed in the player for
about an hour… :o) After that, on the way home, I stuck in a No-Man
compilation (Tim Bowness’s rather wonderful band – think Prefab Sprout,
late-ear Talk Talk mixed with the best of Marillion and something else poppy
and deep…), and now am listening to Cipher, Theo Travis’ side project
of fascinating spacey stuff. Theo’s a fantastic musician that I look forward
to working with again very soon, hopefully…

Meanwhile, this morning, while I still slept, Small person took aged feline to
the vets, only to have him stop limping for the vet, but choose instead to
deposit a huge great steaming turd on the vets examination table. A choice
comment on vetinary science in general, methinks, from the perspective of
a small furry vetinary science consumer, wishing for an easy life.