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:

Forthcoming releases…

Got news of a few recent recordings that look like coming out…

  • The first Catatumbo album should be on it’s way this October, coming out on Babel.  Catatumbo is the trio of Ingrid Laubrock, Javier Carmona and me.  Alex Bonney did a great job of recording us at the Vortex on our tour last November, and that some of that recording will be coming out on LP, CDR and digital download pretty soon.  You can hear a bit of the concert (that won’t be on the album) on the ‘listen’ page of this website.  We’re looking at touring April next year, details on here as they materialise…
  • The recording Mikolaj Trzaska, Mark Sanders and I did last May seems to have found a home as well – should be coming out on No Business sometime next year.  Another live recording, this time recorded by Chris Trent, in Birmingham.
  • And finally, the Nick Malcolm Quartet (with Alexander Hawkins and Mark Whitlam) did a couple of days recording recently.  We had a lot of fun, and again Alex Bonney got a great sound.  Hopefully that’ll be mixed and on its way to labels pretty soon!

Dave Birchall / Olie Brice / Phillip Marks

I’ve recently started playing again with Dave Birchall (guitar) and Phillip Marks (drums).  I used to play a lot with both of them separately when I first started gigging, with Dave in a folk/post-rock/improv band called ‘Our Beautiful Ridiculous Plan’ and with Phil in various jazz and improv settings.  The two musicians I played with most frequently when I lived in Manchester, but last week was the first time we’d done anything together.  Anyway, its great to be working with them again, looking forward to developing the project.

Here’s a couple of zoom recordings of our recent jam:

We’ll be touring sometime early next year, info on here as always….

Nick Malcolm Quartet – upcoming gigs

I’ve been really enjoying playing in Nick Malcolm’s quartet the past few months.  The band is Nick on trumpet and flugelhorn, Alexander Hawkins on piano and Mark Whitlam on drums. The material is orginals by Nick, a couple by me, and the odd Monk tune.  A real blend of free playing, structures and more melodic material.

We’ve got a few nice gigs coming up; The Vortex next Monday (11/07/11), and then Manchester (25/07/11) and Ealing (31/07/11) Jazz Festivals.

We’ll be recording an album in August, details on here when it’s ready for release…