30th Aug 2013
Well, well, well… Another late news update. By roughly eight months. What’s my excuse? I suppose the best I can come up with (and is almost entirely accurate) is, as New Yorkers habitually say, “it’s been a busy time”.
Let me start around roughly April time. I had the privilege to journey across to the continent and stay in Berlin and Cologne for a session, working on a project with James Ingram (as mentioned before). It’s been an independent process for him yet despite the odd trial here and there, the results are looking promising! Admittedly, I’ve been a little off the radar with a slew of other projects at hand, but the end goal is an exciting one. My time in Berlin was also an invigorating one, with so much art and culture in the air that I was intoxicated with the place. As well as being open-minded in many regards today, the orderliness of transportation and business made it an incredibly relaxing and easy experience. I cannot wait to go back, and I’m pretty positive it will be soon…!
After my trip to Germany, it was back to the grind as a very special project was to take place in the month of July with friend and trumpet player, Kim Macari. We had been discussing for months about performing together again (after around eight-plus years of being in different parts of the world, studying, making our own paths through life), so we organized a Sextet (called LOCUS) of musicians from up and down the UK, who were willing and enthusiastic to go on a tour. We managed to patch together six dates, in Brighton, Edinburgh (Jazz Festival), Sheffield, London, Leeds and Manchester (Jazz Festival). Much of the credit for organizing and promoting the tour and project goes to Kim, whilst I set to work composing two sets’ worth of material for the band to play. For me, I was excited about writing for a sextet, as I hadn’t really ever had the experience of doing so in a real-gig setting. There was certainly apprehension over the material: would the band enjoy playing the music? Would it even make any sense (as often I like to experiment with different approaches, some being a little less orthodox than others…)? I also hadn’t met any of the band members before heading to the UK for that month: there is always anxiousness as to whether or not the group will get along with each other especially if you’re touring together…!
I can wholeheartedly say, LOCUS has been one of the best experiences in the “Jazz” world I’ve had yet. Not only were all musicians involved phenomenal, they were also exceptional people. As the tour went on, our unit became stronger, the music flowed and the energy just kept getting better and better.
We had no financial backing for the tour. As any independent artist or project will know, this makes touring exceptionally difficult. Our biggest cost was in renting a tour van, but we didn’t lose any money: we didn’t even just break even, we each earned a little after all was said and done! With all members on board, our aim was to make great music but also prove to ourselves that we could organize the tour professionally and manage it in a way that (should a time come in the future that we can get sponsorship or a grant), that it will not go to waste.
Reviews from the tour dates were extremely positive, especially with a mention in JazzWise Magazine for our last gig (and probably the highlight of the tour) at the Manchester Jazz Festival. No doubt, we will be working together again summer 2014 and recording the material (and perhaps more) at a studio. I personally hope so because I don’t want to let those musicians go from my stratosphere any time soon…
I am now back in NYC, having returned a couple of weeks ago and have managed to descend back into the plethora of gigs, projects, creativity (and even some fun activities) that I’d left aside for that month in July. Gigs at La Flor Bakery & Restaurant are back in the books on Mondays and Wednesdays with Noah MacNeil on piano and, recently, also Koji Yoneyama on guitar; Human Equivalent will be making a couple of hits in October, at LIC Bar and Somethin’ Jazz Club – our next album will be out in the not-too-distant future, so keep those eyes peeled; The WIG has returned from a months’ tour in Japan this past summer, we’ve had another release with Greece’s USessions Records in July and we have another coming out next month (September) with San Francisco-based record label LTHM.
Work with The WIG is taking off and I’ve had the pleasure of performing alongside him at his most recent NYC-based shows, on saxophone and EWI. As we work on our material over the next couple of months, we’re aiming to have a live show up and running with all original material: it shouldn’t be too long now…
That’s all for this round! Look out for the next New update soon – it may not be another eight months for it to come around… 😉