Nick Malcolm Trio

Nick, Mark Sanders and I did a really nice recording session last week, beautifully captured as always by Alex Bonney.  Hopefully it’ll be an album at some point, details here as and when…

Nick and I also played Mopomoso at the weekend, John Russell’s monthly night at the Vortex.  Mark wasn’t available, but we played with the great Roger Turner instead, something I’ve wanted to do for ages.  here’s the evidence…


Diving Bells review

Nice review here:

(although I should point out I’m not a member of the Loop Collective, unlike James and Alex)

BABs – Diving Bells (Mini-Loop Records)

BABs is the improvising trio of Loop Collective members Olie Brice on bass, James Allsopp on bass clarinet, and Alex Bonney on electronics. Thanks to an unconventional approach to how they play their instruments, combined with the use of real-time electronic processing, BABs investigate textural spaces far beyond the remit of a regular jazz trio. Diving Bells sees them taking the sea as a cue, not through a use of simplistic sound effects, but really thinking about the sonic properties of water, and diving down to explore its depths. As well as being very clever, Diving Bells is a transportive and strangely beautiful record. You can imagine a vessel creaking and groaning as it descends, finding strange lifeforms amongst the icy blackness on the sea bed, before ascending back to a calm, rippling surface. Diving Bells is a (sunken) treasure. (SM)

news update…

Currently between legs of a tour with Dave Birchall and Phillip Marks, and switching my attentions briefly for the first gig of a new band I’ve put together  called the Carracks Project (named after some rocks that stick out of the sea halfway between St Ives and Zennor, one of my favourite walks and where I was when the band took a definite form in my mind…)

The Carracks Project features James Allsopp on tenor sax and clarinets, Nick Malcolm on trumpet, Alex Bonney on laptop and Mark Sanders on drums.  Despite being all my compositions it sounds very different to my quartet…  Our first gig is tonight, at the Oxford in Kentish Town, and we’ll be at the Vortex on the 12th of March.

The Birchall / Brice / Marks trio have released a limited edition tour release CDr, called ‘Spitting Feathers’.  We’ll be selling it at our gigs (see here for details), or if you can’t make it to a gig and want a copy email me (olie at, they’re £5 plus postage…

that’s all for now folks….

BABs – Diving Bells

The debut album by BABs is now out, download only, on mini-Loop.  You can find it here:

BABs is James Allsopp on bass clarinet, me, and Alex Bonney processing us in real time.  We’re launching the album on 20/01/12, at Cafe Oto.  That gig is also the album launch for Icarus’ new album, the most exciting new electronic music I’ve come across in years, do check it out… details here:

various bits of news…

Here’s updates on a few things:

  • The Catatumbo album due out on Babel has been rescheduled, now due out next March.  It’s quite a package, 180g gram vinyl, gatefold with gorgeous artwork by Jethro Brice,  and a CD thrown in for good measure. I think there’ll be an option of buying just a CD as well.
  • Been having a lot of fun playing in a new trio, BABs, with Alex Bonney on laptop and James Allsopp on bass clarinet.  We’ve just finished mixing and mastering our album, which will be released in January on mini-loop records, download only (initially at least).  Album launch / debut gig at Cafe Oto on Jan 20th, on a bill with DJ Inchtime and the astonishing Icarus, who are also launching their new album.  More information here
  • And finally, looking forward to touring in the new year with another new trio, Birchall / Brice / Marks.  Tour info on the Gigs page, we’ve also got a recording ready to go, will write something up here when we work out what we’re doing with it!

Paul Motian R.I.P

I usually only use this blog to report on what I’m up to, and I’ve never sat down and written about what another musician means to me before, but the news of Paul Motian’s death yesterday has made me want to do so. There are very few musicians who I don’t know personally who have been as important in my life as Paul Motian.

I have never met Paul Motian, and never heard him live. But I have listened so much to his records, transcribed and played his tunes, and been constantly inspired by his music and approach. I’m pretty sure he appears on a higher percentage of my record collection than anyone else… Here are a few thoughts on what I love about his music:

  • The tunes. I’ve always loved his writing, since first discovering the Lovano / Frisell trio in my teens. ‘Dance’ and ‘Folk Song for Rosie’ were the first I fell for. A couple of years ago I started a project of transcribing several of them, to get a better understanding of how they work (and also because I wanted to play them with my quartet). That process was one of the most important things I’ve done in my musical development. Paul Motian was one of the truly great jazz composers, someone with a completely personal and unique voice who with a short, often simple melody and a hint of implied harmony could create a complete world. Like with his drumming, the things that aren’t there (or that are subtly hinted at) are as important as the things that are. I’ve mostly stopped playing his tunes as I wanted to focus more on writing my own, but still can’t resist including ‘Abacus’ in the book.
  • Everyone who ever played with Paul Motian sounded better with him than they did without him. I can’t think of an exception to that rule!
  • It got better and better. The last few years have seen some of the heaviest Paul Motian records, and his playing pared down to an ever deeper core. There are very few musical greats who have continued to develop and go further every year – there are no Paul Motian records or projects that feel like easy or commercial choices.
  • Paul Motian’s musical vision and personality were so strong that you can be listening to a pianist playing an unaccompanied introduction to a standard on one of his records, and it is still unmistakably Paul Motian music. He didn’t need to touch the drums or write the tune to make that happen!
  • Always completely open and free, while always swinging as heavily as anyone.

There are lots of tributes and obituaries around, a few that I found moving are here:

and here:

and here:

Solo gig

I’ve got my first ever solo gig coming up, next Wednesday (October 5th) at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, London.

Excited and nervous in roughly equal parts!

It’s a double bill with the wonderfully named ‘Why Camels Have No Wings’ (Daniel Thompson / Will Connor / Matt Chilton and Kay Grant).

Edit: Here’s a couple of tracks from the gig: