Category Archives: Videos

Summer into Autumn

With multiple things to mention on here, I thought it was about time for a proper blog post rather than the usual snatched update. Sitting outside writing this on a warm but grey day, it really feels like we’re at the tipping point between Summer and Winter; a pretty nice place to be. Autumn is my favourite season and at this point in the year there’s always that feeling that we’re on the edge of it, about to dive in, start a new chapter. For me I think this is mainly a hangover from living in academic year mode for possibly too many years; but music seems to be structured the same way, with lots of people about to start their new seasons after taking a Summer break. There might not be much going on now, but things are about to happen….time to get a new pencil case! And so, with that in mind, this post will attempt to tie up the loose ends of my Summer activities and look forward to imminent Autumn ones.

Manchester Jazz Festival

The trip to Manchester with Madwort Sax Quartet (featuring last minute special guest Dee Byrne) was great fun. The gig was sold out – crazy! – and Tom’s music went down really well with the audience. The plan is to get a proper recording done this year, and I think we all felt inspired after the MJF gig to make it happen. Dee did an amazing job stepping in for Chris Williams at the last minute too. David McLenachan took some photos of us that show the gig’s lovely setting in the Portico Library:

MSQ in the portico 2 MSQ in the porticoTom’s blog post about the gig also features some tiny videos of the performance on Vine, taken by MJF.

That evening I was part of another gig at Soup Kitchen, as the UK leg of the Efpi/Onze Heures Onze collaboration. We played a set with all the French and UK musicians together, and then OXYD (Alexandre Herer’s band) played the second set. It was really nice to do the collaborative set live after meeting a couple of times in a rehearsal setting. There are a couple of videos of the set, taken by Jazz North, which I’ll post soon.

I also managed to catch a lot of other music while I was at the festival, with highlights including Rodrigo Constanzo’s DFScore performance, Dave Kane Quartet (with last minute special guest Nick Malcolm), and Craig Scott’s Lobotomy live show. Steve Mead’s programming at MJF is really great. He isn’t afraid to put on some totally out-there music, even in the main festival pavilion, and judging by all the packed-out gigs his audiences are clearly up for hearing it. If you ever want to go on holiday to a jazz festival, I’d say go to Manchester. The entry charges were really low too, so going to multiple performances didn’t break the bank. Inspirational stuff from a programming point of view, I thought.

Ripsaw Catfish ‘Shoaling’ live recordings

In a bid to try and get on top of some stuff I’ve been neglecting, I’ve finally got around to putting the Ripsaw Catfish ‘Shoaling’ recordings up online. This was our collaborative touring project last November/December, where Anton and I played five gigs around the UK with ad-hoc ‘shoals’ of local musicians. We wrote a set of small compositions (fragments really) and sent them around in advance, with the idea being that the shoal music would be ‘informed by, incorporating or ignoring’ these elements. The results were all completely different – obviously! Have a listen:

Ripsaw Catfish hasn’t had a very busy 2015 so far, although we’ve been playing together a lot in other projects, but we have a couple of things coming up in the Autumn: we’re playing in London at the Zero Wave Club on October 20th and in Birmingham at Fizzle on November 3rd. These will be straight-up, non-shoaling, duo gigs.


As well as those Catfish gigs, Word of Moth and Sloth Racket will both re-emerge this Autumn. We’re playing a Word of Moth set at Lancaster Jazz Festival on 20th September as Seth is their artist in residence. Our first Moth festival outing! Before that, we’re appearing at Chris Dowding’s St Paul’s Sessions series in Marylebone on September 4th, sharing the bill with a solo set from the formidable John Butcher! Intense. It will be great to resurrect the Moth; after having a lot of fun doing the first gig in February, Dee and I have been so busy with LUME activities (mainly the tour) that the project has been on the back-burner. I’m writing some new music for it and can’t wait to get stuck in!

Sloth Racket are also out and about in September, playing at Jazz At The Oxford on September 21st. This is the first gig of George Crowley’s ‘Can Of Worms Presents’ series, so we’ll be sharing the bill with them which should be a blast! After that our next outing will be at London Jazz Festival in November, as part of LUME’s plans which haven’t been announced yet….not totally sure why, but I’m sure they will be soon. Anyway, it will be good! Sam Andreae is in Berlin until January, so having two Sloths gigs in that period is amazing.

LUME plans

This is the first Autumn in a while where we won’t be launching into another season of weekly LUME gigs. We decided that the format needed shaking up and streamlining, and that we needed to take an extra-long Summer break, so September and October will be quiet on the LUME front. The ‘LUME Presents’ Vortex residency is starting up again on September 6th, so there will be a couple of gigs happening, but LUME proper will undergo a sort of re-launch in late November. We’ve put in a grant application and plans are underway, but we’re keeping it under our hats for now.  It’s been so nice to take time off and reflect on everything we’ve done in the last two and a bit years, to take stock and then think about what we want to do next. I feel like we’ve been working non-stop for the whole time (and actually, we are working now even though the gigs aren’t running), so this break from the gig routine is very welcome. LUME isn’t dead though….watch this space, all that stuff….we’ll be back!

A visit to the Freedom Loft Sessions…

Last week I went to the Freedom Loft Sessions at the Vortex – a free improv jam organised by a team of musicians including Orphy Robinson, Tori Handsley and Cleveland Watkiss. It was a lot of fun! I didn’t realise at the time, but they were filming all the sets, so here’s a video of the ad-hoc group I played with…

It was Seb Silas on tenor, Nikos Ziarkas on guitar, Winston Blissett on bass, Julie Kjaer on alto sax, Tom Ward on bass clarinet, and me on baritone sax.

Great night – I’ll definitely be going back!

December 2012 gigs retrospective: MSQ on the road

I’ll continue this afternoon of cataloguing the end of 2012 with a look back to the Madwort Sax Quartet gigs in December. We left London behind and set off on a mini-tour of The Midlands and The North: not bad for the second thing the band ever did! Arguably, as it was a pair of gigs, this should be referred to as a series, but due to the travel involved I’m going to stick my neck out here and call it a mini-tour….

The first stop was Derby and Corey Mwamba‘s ‘One Note Sunday’ night at the Flowerpot. We played two sets to an extremely interested and appreciative audience. Again, it was a cool thing to have this happen at the band’s second ever gig. The idea with One Note Sunday is that people go along to hear something new…as in, not even something they’ve listened to online in advance to see if they like it, but something brand new to them. Risky tactics, you say! Yes. But, what it means from a performer’s perspective is that the people who show up are definitely going to be there to check out the music…and that feels great! We had a good gig there. The sign below was posted by the bar but was totally redundant.

Tom recorded the gig and filmed it. He’s posted a series of four videos on YouTube: the tracks are Shard, S (by Larry Ochs/Rova), Maps and Islands In The Green. Shard and Maps were new tunes that Tom wrote in time for the December gigs.

After Derby, we had a day off before travelling to Manchester to play at Efpi Records’ Freedom Principle night at Sandbar. It was nice to go back and play there again after the Quadraceratops gig for them in June, which was a lovely night. With the quartet, we shared the bill with the Anton Hunter trio. I have to say, perhaps egotistically, that my favourite part of this gig was when we combined the two bands and played some of my music! Anton had clocked that if we merged the two bands we would have a sort of hybrid almost-Quadraceratops septet and he suggested we did a couple of my tunes. With, well, basically no rehearsal. More risky tactics! I like to think of it as the Madanton Worthunter Quartrio. Four saxes, guitar, bass and drums! It was FUN, and pretty anarchic. There’s a video of it, and I’ll post it up here once I get my head around cutting the video into tracks….