Saturday, November 11, 2006
200 saxophones done.
Wow!! finally finished the Sax Massive project last night.What a Gas!!
The day started with a shortened version of the piece played by Andy Sheppard and 12 Saxophone players including Tony Kofi and James Morton.This was a sort of mini fanfare for the official speeches etc from london Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Hackney Mayor.There was also a peaceful demonstration by local Anarchist during the speeches.Compere for the day was Adisa the Poet Laureate for Hackney who delivered a sterling Job as he always does.I was then given the nod and we launched into the piece it went really well and audience response was great.This was a great way to set us up ready for the main event.In the square and in the Vortex there were lots of creative activity from latin musicians,African Dance ensembles,Capoeira and family entertainers of all descriptions.Vocalist Christine Tobin was roaming and interviewing people in the square plus Andy and Myself for BBC Radio 3.
Meanwhile the 200 Saxophonist were also arriving,certainly not exclusive to london they were arriving from all over the country.I know of Some that had come down from Bristol plus I had also been introduced to a couple from Aberdeen who had made the trip down for the occasion.We did a sort of pep talk to fill in the last few details and then everyone set off for their start positions inside and outside of the square.
I had originally been installed on the roof of the Vortex but I really didn't feel comfortable at all up there,plus the centre of attention would of shifted from the saxes and the great lighting that had been designed around them. So I moved position to the centre of the square on a sort of makeshift podium that was surrounded by the 5000 people who had now gathered in the square.The police and stewards moved into place around the podium just in case and wags in the crowd had decided to do there own impromptu conducting while I was directing the piece.The piece starts with a three pronged call and response from Andy,Tony and James with an ambient soundtrack underneath.The moody lighting provided by the lovely Jo adding to an atmosphere of anticipation.It then moves into some chords played by the sax players placed outside the square.This is then picked up Sax players coming out of concealed places i.e in this case coming out of offices and two lenghty balconies.
There follows sections played by the two groups alternatively Group 1 being those on the ground and group 2 those on Balconies etc. finally the players outside the square walk in playing a motif that is picked up by all saxes with the added bonus of Tony Kofi and James Morton soloing and swapping riffs over the top.
Then we go into the main body of the piece which is really full on with a mammoth Soprano solo from Andy Sheppard played over a some sustained cued chords from all 200 saxes the piece finally ends in a free blowout from all 200 saxes soloing that had the crowd screaming in excitement.This is followed by conducted stabs from Andy and Myself ending on a cadenza from Andy.The crowd really dug the piece and were really enthusiastic to all its shifts and moods.Clapping wildly for a few minutes as the the Saxes took an extended Bow.Visually it was a stunner.Congrats to all involved it did take some carefull organising.The day passed off peacefully and the Rain even let us finish before the skies opened up fortunately we could go off into the Vortex to catch the Robert Mitchell/Omar Ouente Concert with Deborah Jordan guesting on Vocals.
This was absolute magic as you would expect from such fantastic musicians.
This was my first time experiencing the wonderful voice and musiciality of Deborah and I am really looking forward to working together next year on something.
I then had to make my way to the Pizza Express in Dean Street for the Live BBC Radio 3 broadcast I arrived to see The Randy Weston trio tearing up a storm followed by Mike Westbrook's Village Band and Gwilim Simcock anew pianist receiving a lot of attention.The night ended with Evan Parker/Roy Campbell/Henry Grimes band which held the audience rivited to their seats with some wonderful interplay and musical conversations.
All in all a busy day now followed by an intense script reading morning for me to learn the script for tonight's MISTERIOSO show adapted by Filomena Campus Written by The Italian Political Satirist Stefano Beni and featuring musicians Pat Thomas,
Rowland Sutherland and Dudley Phillips that has been running for last two days at the Camden Peoples Theatre with Drama/Visuals and the music of Thelonious monk. The first two nights also had Cleveland Watkiss acting and Vocalising with the text. Tonight I am playing in the place of Cleveland.His text has been recorded and will still feature around the Actors.Should be great fun. Tomorrow nights show will be filmed by Italian TV Broadcaster RAI for transmission at a later date.