Monday, December 28, 2009

And the rest bye bye 2009!

The end of the year has seen me being invited to cover a gig for Steve Williamson in Oxford at the Spin where I appeared with Pat Thomas on piano a wonderful night and the Spin is always one of my favourite places to play so I always look forward to a journey up to Oxford!We had a lovely unexpected review in the Oxford Times which documents the night perfectly.I will put a link to that below:
Did a very productive session with Alexander Hawkins and the sextet for BBC Radio 3 session that should see the light of day next year,we will also do a tour in year to promote the album "No now is so"really looking forward to that as I always enjoy meeting up and playing Alex's music he is one talented guy!
Finished the year on a Beggar & Co gig at the 100 club.I hadn't been in the 100 club since the early 1990s so I had thought it would of changed a bit but instead it was exactly the same decor which really doesnt work now,just looks a bit tacky!Anyway gig was slamming as they always are with Beggar & Co playing a mixture of originals and Jazz funk anthems,One interesting feature of this gig was that The drummer was double booked playing for US Soul Singer Alexander O'Neal at the Docklands O2 centre so we had to wait until he had played there and been driven across town just about getting to the 100 club and sitting in before the audience got to restless,I started off the gig sent out as a peace offereing to play solo vibes for 10 minutes,this is normally not the type of crowd to play free improv to but they listened and were actually responding in the right places.All in all a different end to the year of gigging for me.No Christmas gigs but i intend to rectify that next year by relaunching the Xmas files project i put out in 2002.Been listening to some recordings made of those gigs and would definitely like to do a revisit!
Next year starts with me performing and recording in the Jason Yarde's LSO concert with Acoutastic Bombastic followed by appearing with the London Improvisors Orchestra in the Bimhuis,Nigel Kennedy world tour and recording,Alexander Hawkins tour,Burnout Mama in Helsinki,Byron Wallen's new album release,Curating a new Percussion festival.Maybe a couple of my own recordings might be out after a 15 year break!
Can't wait for 2009 to end they will be a lot of changes for me next year hopefully for the best,so roll on 2010.

Cleveland Watkiss 50th Birthday concert

Cleveland held his 50th birthday concert during the London Jazz festival at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the south bank.An absolutely brilliant night of music where he revisited a lot of the music and experiences he has had during a musical career that has criss-crossed through many genres!
Listening to Cleveland Watkiss in concert the listener quickly understands why he is such a complete musician and performer. The turnout of musicians involved in his 50th Birthday concert was unbelievable plus the many who had made the trip down to the south bank to watch the concert just goes to show how much genuine feeling there is for Cleveland.
I had the honour of being one of the invited musicians to perform on the day. I performed in The Jazz Warriors segment with some of the musicians who have been an integral part of the Warriors story!Adrian Reid-Piano,Jason Yarde-Alto Sax,Brian Edwards-Alto Sax,Gary Crosby-Double Bass,Mark Mondesir-Drums,Byron Wallen-Trumpet to name some of those in attendance.It was very interesting to hear the feedback from some of those who witnessed the return of the original Jazz Warriors sound!Mmm-Anyway watch this space for some exciting news in the new year.Here is a review from Paul Bradshaw Editor of celebrated journal Straight no Chaser magazine:
Cleveland happily shared his birthday honours with be-bop veteran and fellow singer, 82 year old Sheila Jordan and then, after an intermission, proceeded to confound the audience appearing onstage dressed a la 17th Century. It was left to the piano vituoso Julian Joseph to explain that
the attire and the nature of this character resided in Bridgetower - an opera he’d written and in which Cleveland had performed.Aside from the jazz circuit Cleveland has constantly engaged in London’s ever evolving clubland. He was a regular at Talking Loud & Saying Something/ Dingwalls and was a fully fledged member of Goldie’s Metalheadz crew. His Project 23, with Marque Gilmore and DJ La Rouge (guesting on turntables at Cleveland 50!), highlighted his commitment to putting his own stamp on the drum ‘n’ bass scene. It was through the Warriors and through the club, Anohka, that he developed a working relationship with young, master percussionist Talvin Singh. This relationship was beautifully conveyed at the QEH through a trio setting where the singer engaged with Talvin’s rippling tabla riffs and the sublime, pristine
rhythms and melodies of Tunde Jegede’s kora. It was down to the spoken word of Vayu Naydu to lift this trio to brand new heights.Spoken world also found its way into the set via playwright and novelist Bonnie Greer and then it was down to beat boxer Schlomo, who joined Cleveland, trumpeter Byron Wallen and drummer Shaney Forbes, to articulate a whole other approach to rhythm and sound. The impact of these performances along with those of stellar pianists Jason Rebello, Alex Wilson (you are b-a-a-ad!) and Nicky Yeoh (beautiful duets) will resonate with me for time to come.The spirit of exchange is an elemental force in this music and Cleveland Watkiss – Jazzman, Junglist… Outer-nationalist! – reflects his roots 100%. Hackney was in the house at the QEH, Believe! A refusal to be boxed into any one genre underpinned the whole session. As we drew to a close the slightly twisted Cuba-Brasil collision on ‘Torch of Freedom’ had Cleveland
and Heidi Vogel enjoying a freewheeling lyrical exchange over a sweet montuno. It provided the perfect place to call it day and sent us off happy into a windswept November night.
Paul Bradshaw – Straight No Chaser-November 2009

tHE SPonTANeoUS COsMic RAwXtra

19th October 2009 saw the debut concert of my new Ensemble TSCR at new uber venue The Kings Place in londons Kings Cross.TSCR brings together musicians of the calibre of Cleveland Watkiss-Vocals,
Hkb Finn -Spoken Word, Shabaka Hutchens-Clarinets,Rowland Sutherland-Flutes, Brian Edwards - Tenor Sax, Ntshuks Bonga-Alto Sax, Corey Mwamba - Vibraphone, Pat Thomas-Piano, Camelle Hinds-Bass, Otto Fischer-Guitar, and Steve Noble - Drums for its Debut public performance. Using music and soundscapes inspired by Fela Kuti, Sunra,Duke Ellington, John Colrane,Eric Dolphy,George Clinton,Lee Scratch Perry and the Art Ensemble of Chicago as a starting point. This ensemble aims to explore and create its own unique focus on some of the great improvisors from the African diaspora. This concert was also filmed by the Open University and a live multi track audio recording was made as well. A Multi-media installation was kindly provided by brilliant Visual Artists SDNA. I will put up a short taster of the OU film on the net shortly.Here is a link to a review of the debut concert! Scroll down to the 30th October Space is the place entry:

Nigel Kennedy catches a vibe!

10th September saw me appearing with Nigel Kennedy at the Tower of London Festival.I had meet Nigel when I was signed to Blue Note records and we had got on really well.We had spoke about one day working together but Unfortunately a possible earlier chance to perform in his Hendrix Project about 10 years ago didn't work out because of my schedule.We hadn't seen each other since that time so when I bumped into Nigel in the street one day in the summer it turned out that he was about to embark on a project that he thought would be ideal for us to perform together.This turned out to be his Bach/Ellington project for small band and Orchestra.So some rehearsals were hooked up leading to me performing with Nigel's own small ensemble plus the Philharmonic orchestra at the Tower.I had a really good time hanging with his regular Jazz band hailing from Poland who are some excellent musicians and good people. plus English guitarist Doug Boyle. The concert was well received and has now led to a world tour starting early next year. I will be touring in some pretty cool locations and a possible recording is also in the pipeline! Let you know nearer the time where I will be!

Spitalfields festival summer brew 2009

Mark Holub cool drummer from band "Led bib " Who Curates the Succesful Summer stew Festival in Spitalfields had kindly invited me to play in the festival this year.The festival is one that happens each year at the end of the summer break in September.The band was a new line up that I had wanted to play with for a while.Steve Noble on Drums,Ntchuks Bonga on Alto Sax and on bass Camelle hinds the mainstay of grounbreaking 80s Britfunk band "Central Line,Paul Weller and his own solo projects" who I have played with in funk bands like the Beggar & Co band. This was Camelle's first excursion into free improv and he really played some fantastic music as did the other guys.The audience were very appreciative and there has also been some positive write ups about the band.I hope in 2010 to do some more work with this band provisionally called "The Lovely Dubley band". Here is a review from the Londonjazz.Blogspot:
"I arrived just in time for the second band of the day, Orphy Robinson’s quartet. Robinson was playing marimba. He created a set of powerful jazz improvisation with a funk-rock edge. And in the process he created a lot of excitement too. Playing a continuous set without pausing between sections, drummer Steve Noble and bassist Camelle Hinds pushed the band along energetically, working quite a groove behind Robinson and altoist Ntshuks Bonga ’s solos. This was fusion of a kind, but behind the drive it was subtle, engaging music".

Bristol Sax Massive

I have worked on the Andy Sheppard Sax Massive projects for the last couple of years and they have been performed in Norway,Central London and Opened the London Jazz Festival.
These Sax Massives have all been a lot of fun!This Time round it was a massive organised for the re-openning of the Colston Hall venue in Bristol.This meant trips up to Bristol through August into Sptember.
I must say that Bristol delivered well both in organising and in the level of musicianship displayed by Sax players like James Morton and Mobo Award winner Yolanda Brown who also came up to Bristol for each rehearsal.The massive can have up to 200 sax players at one time performing in its ranks.
On the performance day there were also a lot of other large ensembles involved these included Adrian Utley's 'Music for Massed Guitars', The Emerald Ensemble, Richard Barnard, Cirque Bijou, Charles Hazlewood, Sheelanagig plus female Beat Boxer Bella trix.
I had a really enjoyable time in Bristol hung out with some cool musicians that I will stay in touch with in the future!

David Byrne installation

So one of the interesting sessions I had this year was at the Roundhouse in Camden town a huge venue that puts on some varied & interesting programmes of events throughout the year.
I was invited to be a part of the David Byrne (Talking Heads) installation titled "Playing the Building" The public were able to walk around the Roundhouse and interact with the space, primarily through a special organ keyboard that turns pipes into flutes and walls into drums.that had taken over the main space for the summer!
These sessions were really well attended with long queues forming all day in order for people to experience and in the case of some invited musicians to play along with the installation.
This involved an organ rigged up to play everything from the metal beams to water pipes resonating, vibrating, oscillating noise-making with various tensioned wires connected to the Roundhouse building each making a unique sound and ultimately turning the building into a giant instrument!
I was invited to bring along a vibraphone and to introduce a metallic soundscape as an interlude or a duet element into the proceddings followed by me encouraging the people who had come along to experience the installation to join in either with their own instruments or a selection of pitched and unpitched percussive instruments that I brought along for the purpose!It was a great experience and led to some interesting discussions about what is sound? and what is music? I also had someone adamently trying to get us all to play something from the Jimi Henrix catalogue has hendrix had apparently performed there in the Roundhouse in the 1970s. Anyway we finished up with a long queue of people wanting to play my vibraphone after someone had asked to play a couple of notes and that led to loads more curious and eager to have a try. It really was a lot of fun and the totally unexpected and warm feedback from those who attended really rounded up the whole experience on a high note.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nuff tings happened this year

So finally 2009 is coming to an end and 2010 will start! I for one can't wait as I have come stuff coming up that I am really looking forward to! Before that I will do a recap on some of the stuff that I have been up to since I last blogged!
Well I used to ask myself how come I have never done a musical,finally I got the call to be involved in one.But what a mistake that turned out to be.Death by music I'm afraid.Seriously Stabbed in the back by a so called fellow musician!Where do I start?Who cares?It definitely wasnt for me and I finally escaped the second night with another 86 performances to go!
Still I needed to know why I had never been involved in one of these!It's a whole other world to what I am used to dealing with,Politics,loyalties are not the same as in other areas of music.Egos!!!!! Wow! Anyway got out and headed back to London where the first gig I did was an improv one that just brought me right back down to earth and made me really appreciate just how lucky I am to know and work with so many fantastic musicians and people.This was quickly followed by the Beggar & Co funk gig at Summer Soltice that I have written about in an earlier blog!!
Saying all of that, I was asked to appear 3 months later in "Misterioso" A musical about the life of Thelonious Monk Written by celebrated Italian Writter Stefano Benni and adapted and directed by Filomena Campus the Sardinian Director and Musician of note! Awesome music from a band that swung hard,Tony Kofi on Alto,Winston Clifford on Drums,Pat Thomas on Piano and David Leahy on Bass.The whole cast and Crew Delivering a piece of theatre that I could genuinely relate to and pay money to see! Help to Restore some of my faith in the medium called Musical theatre, as I saw first hand that you could combine great Multi-media curtuosy of the best in the business (SDNA), Actors,Musicians,crew and a Director with great ideas to make something that not only told a worthwhile story but moved away from the tired formulaic why of expressing musical theatre that is the norm in the West End of London and Broadway!!Reviews were fantastic and the run at the Riverside theatre in Hammersmith was very successful for Filomena Campus and her team.
Here is a review from Arts Website KultureFlash:
London-based collective Theatralia inject Stefano Benni's play Misterioso with a dose of beatnik heroin. Misterioso explores the relationship of legendary pianist Thelonius Monk with aristocratic arts patron Baroness Rothschild (Pannonica). Jazz aficionados will by thrilled by the ensemble of seasoned musicians, who will transport them to an NYC Jazz club in McCarthy-era America. Tony Kofi blows away the cobwebs with his sax, Orphy Robinson competes with a projection of a '50s cartoon character on vibes, and Pat Thomas' subtle piano invokes the presence of the late Monk, who spent the last seven years of his life in silence. Magical music and audience toe-tapping is given a menacing undertone with Pannonica's tragic anecdote, about a cop hitting Monk's hands with a baton after he asks for refreshment in a whites-only hotel. Misterioso culminates with a projection of Monk rotating like a whirling dervish, a metaphor for
mounting racial tension. Sympathetic direction and uplifting vocals by Filomena Campus, evoke the feel of the Beat Generation's Big Apple Ex-drum and bass MC Cleveland Watkiss brings Monk's narrative to life with his booming voiceover, whilst Thomas is the physical embodiment of the silent Thelonius, chiaroscuro highlighting him like a Zurbaran painting, giving
gravitas to the myth of a musical legend.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Yolanda Charles and Dee C. Lee

Managed to catch a great set of music at the portobello rd gig 'Inn on the Green' last week from a Brilliant new band led by Bassist/vocalist Yolanda Charles and Vocalist Dee C Lee. The band called 'The Deep Mo' laid down some excellent compositions opposite the very promising new artist Lisa-Marie Falloon who had drum supremo Justin Pickett laying down the funk.Other musicians checking the band and venue out were Karl Van Den Bosch and Noel Mckoy.
The Deep Mo are the tightest of bands leaning towards the sound of the great 'Rufus' of Chaka Khan fame. but with a style and fresh sound of their own. Of course having four musicians of the calibre of Robert Mitchell on Keys,Miles Bould on drums and guitarist Scott Firth and Yolanda on Bass in any band you really do know your onto a winner, as they will always deliver music of the highest quality! Material included some taken from a debut EP out now that is an essential for anyone into good soulful sounds! Keep an ear out for any gigs around town, you will not be disapointed!

Louis Moholo Moholo new album launched tonight at the Vortex.

'An open letter to my wife Mpumi' is the title of the new album by Louis Moholo Moholo out on OGUN records.It sees a Sax front line of Ntshuks Bonga and Jason Yarde with John Edwards on Bass and the soulful South African pianist Pule Pheto plus myself on Vibes..Recorded at the later end of 2008 in the Solar powered recording studio at the Hackney Premises.The band play some new compositions by Pule and Jason..Following a couple of shows at the Vortex and an appearance at the EDGE 08 Cecil Taylor day at East london's Rich Mix venue the band had kicked into a new groove of cohesive expressions placed on a bed of funkiness!Not really but something even more interesting was happening resulting in a joyous celebration of the spirit that Louis brings to all musical excursions! Phew! Come along tonight to the Vortex in Dalston to see the band kick ass and present some of the music from the new album!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hugh Hopper's Au revoir

Yesterday was a strange one what with the day ending with the news of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett Majors Checking out as well! However it was also the day when we celebrated the Life of the great Musician Hugh Hopper!
The gathering was held in Teynham an absolutely beautiful idylic spot in Kent!I drove down with Lol Coxhill and Wifey Ulrika quite early in the morning to avoid the London traffic jams at rush hour.It was a really lovely send off with three members of the Delta Saxophone quartet leading Hugh's casket to a clearing in the grounds of the burial site.A simple ceremony was held with some poignant words read out by various members of the family.Guitarist John Etheridge accompanied a song led by Hugh's wife Christine!The proceedings were then brought to a close by the releasing of a White Dove of Peace up into the clear blus sky!We then decamped to Whitstable on the coast meeting up at the Oyster Restaurant which was also the venue for the benefit concert last year!
All in all a lovely day and a perfect send off for Hugh!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Soulstice 3

On Saturday The third Summer Soulstice took place in Barnet!The weather looked a bit dodgy at first and there was a little drizzle at one stage but not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowds that were making there way to the Soulstice!The Jazz Tent was the first port of call where I managed to hear Djs Jester and Jazzy Ruth Fisher of Starpoint Radio who played some cracking tracks by amongst oothers Lou Donaldson,Jimmy McGriff,Brecker Brothers and vibes player David Pike..The main stage was where most of the activities were focused for the day with volunteers maning stalls and all backstaging duties etc!All Djs played a 1 hour set on the main stage or the Jazz tent with some playing on both like the excellent Bob Jones!Sound crew had a nightmare of a time setting up with things running late plus having to work around the Djs and Bands simultaneously but still managed to do an adequate job in the circumstances!Well done to all concerned!!Beggar & Co and the Funk Jazz collective started the set with a version of Ronnie Laws "Always there" with special Guest Glenn Goldsmith and Ray Carless they delivered a set of classic funk moments including a bunch of kool & the gang originals as well as some slamming funk of their own!All in all a fantastic day in Barnet for a good cause with all proceeds going to a cancer charity.Looking forward to next year Summer Soulstice 4 here we come!.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cleveland Watkiss & Antonio Forcioni

Thursday 18th June sees Incredible virtuoso vocalist Cleveland Watkiss and leading Guitarist Antonio Forcioni join forces with Filomena Campus at the Riverside studios in Hammersmith.
The night sees the launch of Filomena's new band with Steve Lodder on Piano,Dudley Phillips Double Bass and Drummer Helder Pack..Be there or be square an action packed night for all concerned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Theatralia Third Interlude

Celebrated Sardinian Theatre Director/Singer Filomena Campus puts together another of her amazing shows this Saturday at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.This new piece "Third Interlude "sees Filomena Campus together with Saxophonist Evan Parker,Pat Thomas,Mark Saunders and John Edwards plus visuals by SDNA.Expect the unexpected as always with Filomena at the helm anything can happen and probably will! Check out the box office for advance tickets. or for futher information you could go to the myspace page on

The Summer Soulstice 2009

This coming Saturday 20th June 2009 sees the annual Soulful alldayer festival the Summer Soulstice held in Barnet since 2007 by the friends of Andy Weekes who had died of Cancer a year earlier..Each year has seen crowds of between 1500-3000 enjoy a day of soulful funky music with Live Bands and Djs.This year sees the festival headlined by eighties iconic Brit Funkers The Beggar & Co formerly known as "Light of the World" with some very Special Guests performing with the band..I will not spoil the surprise by naming here! Here's a link to the Summer Soultstice website with all the relevant info The festival is for a good cause with all proceeds going to local Cancer Charities.This year they aim to raise £7,000+ for the Cherry Lodge Cancer Care..Please come along if you like your music Funky with Fun activities for the kids onsite as well.Its a great day out for all the Family starting from 2pm.This year sees the welcome addition of a Jazz tent..See you there as I will also be appearing with the Beggar & Co band.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Inside British Jazz

Stumbled upon a link for the fantastic book written by Hilary Moore about the history of Black Jazz Musicians in the U.K. A very interesting read indeed if you get a chance have a read even better go buy the book. Here's the link below:

Gary Crosby awarded an O.B.E.

Gary Crosby Stalwart of the Double Bass was awarded a well deserved  O.B.E in the recent Queens Birthday Honours list. A reward for the hard work that Gary has put in with the various bands and solo artist that have come through the ranks of the various ensembles he has led. 
Gary continues to put in time and effort with not only his award winning record Label DUNE that brought musicians like Soweto Kinch, Denys Baptiste, and bands Tomorrows Warriors,Nu Troop, Jazz Jamaica and the Jazz Jamaica All Stars Orchestra to the attention of many audiences around the world. Gary has also invested no little effort in Educating and bringing through young musicians on to the U.K Jazz scene with the recent announcement of an extension to the popular Tomorrows Warriors band with a fully fledged Youth Orchestra arm.

Announcing the launch of The Spontaneous Cosmic RawXtra

Groundbreaking promoters Twisted Lounge have asked me to curate an event for this years Black History month Celebrations. Tickets have now been announced on sale at the The new Uber plush venue The Kings Place situated in London's newly developed Area around Kings Cross station. Monday 26th October 2009 will see the Debut of a new project of mine The Spontaneous Cosmic RawXtra. The RawXtra has within its ranks Musicians Pat Thomas, Steve Williamson, Cleveland Watkiss, Shabaka Hutchins, Ntchuks Bonga, Otto Fischer,Brian Edwards There will be a few very special surprise guests on the night. I will add some info to this blog plus interviews with some of the members of the The Spontaneous Cosmic RawXtra later. Now the way that the Kings Place promotions work is the earlier you buy tickets the less you pay as it gets nearer to the concert the price goes up so please book early for this one.As its gonna be a cracker!Please visit the Kings Place website at
or The myspace site of the RawXtra ---

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hugh Hopper R.I.P.

I just received the sad news that Hugh Hopper Bassist with Soft Maching and fellow Clear Frame band member has died following a long struggle with Leukeamia..Hugh was one of the most fascinating musicians I have been fortunate to meet on the improv circuit through the coming together of the members of the ClearFrame band. Together with Fellow members Lol Coxhill, Charles Haywood we had performed some well received concerts in the U.K and Europe.
One concert recorded by the BBc Radio 3 team has constantly been one of the most requested concerts for repeat broadcasting by listeners to the popular Jazz on 3 programme for the last 4 years.An album was released by Clearframe with the addition of his fellow Soft Machine cohort Robert Wyatt to critical acclaim..
Hugh was a really funny guy always ready to help anyone in difficulties or just to have a kind word or a smile to reassure you that everything wood be ok!On a Clearframe tour of Austria he had us either in stiches by his observations or entralled with stories about his Soft Machine days and his own prolific projects after leaving the iconic band.
The last time I saw Hugh was with his lovely Wife at the benefit concert in Whitstable where many musicians from the Canterbury scene were performing.Hugh was in attendance and in good spirits in fact he ended up staying a lot longer than anyone had anticipated.A week later there was another benefit held in london at the 100 club featuring yet more musicians that Hugh had worked with in the past.
Hugh leaves behind a fantastic catalogue of work and I will always have fond memories of a humble and kind person plus a giant of the Bass guitar.
For a much more in depth look at his career click on this link::
Jazzwise magazine have written an obituary here:

Monday, June 01, 2009

NO NOW IS SO Alexander Hawkins REVIEWS

Reviews for Alexander Hawkins Ensemble's debut album are starting to come in..
To have a read of a couple Here are some links one from London:
and the next from the Downtown music Gallery in New York:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Snowboy launches book

Worth reading for all those who were in the scene or not!
A thouroughly entertaining read about a period in London club life when it was the norm for every club to have a jazz dance hour happening in the middle of a Disco club night,where tracks by Art Blakey & the Jazz messengers would see the dance floor taken over by young people for a frenetic sweaty workout!Ably told by DJ/musician Mark 'Snowboy' Cotsgrove Southend's finest. Who delivers a thorough comprehensive encyclopeadic insight into an area of Britains multi cultural heritage that helped to shape a music scene that evolved from humble beginnings into the Acid Jazz scene that was taken up by dancers worldwide, This book is guaranteed to bring back memories for anyone that went to the clubs wore the clothes and bought the music!Foreword by Straight no chaser magazine/Edge 09 stalwart Paul Bradshaw!

Freedom of the City 2009

I haven't performed for a couple of years at the Freedom of the City festival and I have missed it.The Conway Hall is one of those venues that has an interesting history that encompasses so much of the Improv music history of london That I always feel relaxed as soon as I enter the building.The last time I was there was for an event organised by the Wire Magazine where I performed with John Tchai,Sonny Murray and the Springhill Jack band..the last couple of years I have been busy when the Festival time has come around and haven't been able to be there.
So when I was invited this year by the London Improvisors Orchestra and found that Iwas free for a change I gladly accepted and turned up with my 14 Year old son who was out for the day with me!As always the Orchestra was packed with some of Europes finest players this time a welcome addition was Trumpeter Henry Lowther who was performing a concerto with the Orchestra..
My son throughly enjoyed the 2 hours of music performed which included me filling the Piano chair briefly while Steve Beresford performed a conduction!six memebers of the Orchestra performed conduction these included Guitarist Dave Tucker,Violinist Alison Blount,Bassist Dave Leahy,Bamboo flute/Spoken Word specialist Terry Day..There is a review of the concert at the folowing blog:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Edge 09 forum on Afrobeat with LEMI GHARIOKWU &TONY ALLEN

Afrobeat: A Culture – The Edge09 Forum featuring Lemi Ghariokwu & Tony Allen

Edge09 in conjuction with BASS festival presents AFROBEAT: A CULTURE – a forum for all Afrobeat headz with a stellar panel that includes Lemi Ghariokwu (The Man responsible for Fela’s artwork), Tony Allen (Afrobeat Master drummer), Rich Medina (Jump’n'Funk NYC), Wunmi (Afrobeat Queen), Dele Sosimi (Keys/Egypt80). The discussion will be hosted by Paul Bradshaw (Edge09/Straight No Chaser). Join us and a host of invited guests to assess the global impact of Afrobeat – a culture of creativity and resistance.

Forum – Weds 10th June @ 1pm-2.30pm

Exhibition Art’s Own Kind – 8 June – 6 July 2009

Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

Edge 09 On the way announcing some upcoming events

Last year Paul Bradshaw from Straight no Chaser Jason Jules and myself put together some events That we termed Edge 08 as a fringe to the London Jazz festival.These events included a documentary screning of Four Hands a film about Cecil Taylor. FUTURIZM a night dedicated to new young artist, FREEDOM PRINCIPLE music sessions,A photography exhibition and a sold out Dingwalls session with DJ Giles Peterson..This year EDGE 08 becomes EDGE 09 We will be bigger and better with some thought provoking sessions planned.
To kick off the EDGE 09 Experience we will be announcing various sessions in the coming months with events starting earlier this year than last year..
One of these upcoming events will be a celebration of UK jazz dance.UK Jazz dance is an art that was honed in bedrooms and on the dance floor. Edge 09 will revisit the scene at Cargo with Cuban rumba from Dilanga in the yard and a live twisted jazz set from The Mighty Jeddo in the main arch. DJs Gilles Peterson & Snowboy will set the scene for some fast and furious competition on the dancefloor from the dancers who carry on the legacy of the movement. As well as book signing and record stalls, Dick Jewell's legendary film The Jazz Room will be screened alongside other classic shorts.
This is all in to do with the publication of Mark ‘Snowboy' Cotgrove's book, From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: The History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene, Edge09 + Straight No Chaser has got together with The Barbican to celebrate the unique, underground, UK dance jazz movement which gave us aggressive, innovative and stylish dance crews like IDJ, Jazz Defektors, Brothers In Jazz, Foot Patrol, Floor Technicians and Jazzcotech, along with a host of highly individual dancers.



£10adv, £10 otd



2009 All Party Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The All party Parliamentary Jazz awards is one hell of a title for an awards night,it's also a very different venue to have anything to do with Jazz!!Never having been invited to one before I was intrigued as to what they would be like! So having finally received an invitation after first finding out that I had been nominated in the Jazz Educator category through the internet then having to chase up an invite that eventually just days before the event.I think I kind of knew already that this was just a chance to party in a very different place than normal..
Well I went along with my son on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament for the 2009 Awards. Had some food, drank some wine and then it was over! To be nominated was enough recognition for and some of my students who are out there giving a good account of themselves..I had a good time chatting to fellow musicians and friends and catching up with news and views etc,these kind of affairs are normally places where you bump into people you haven't seen for ages probably because you are all normally out there working rather than talking about it! ..Darren Taylor of Jazz reloaded was a worthwhile winner collecting the Best online publication for Jazz with his online magazine. The Jazz reloaded team who have been doing some fantastic work going out to gigs and not only those they get free tickets for? Darren has around him a really good team who put in a lot of hard work and deserve some exposure!!They themselves are supporting talent and getting some exposure for many new artists who the mainstream press are very slow at getting any handle on normally maybe because they have to pidgeon hole them first!!!Kevein Le gendre was also a popular winner on the night in the best journalist category.Kevin is one of those writers who again gets out and about checking out much of the interesting and not so obvious creative people out there and always comes across with a genuine love of the music and people that he interviews! Which is probably why he tends to get exclusives from so many cutting edge musicians!!He also leads successful writing workshops for young writers each year as part of the London Jazz Festival!Other notable winners on the night were Val Wilmer for services to Jazz,Jazz musician of the year went to Guitarist Phil Robson whose award was collected by Vocalist Christine Tobin.
Anyway that's the awards for this year over with so now back to Music!
Visit this link for the official list of winners!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rehearsals finally get under way on "Once on this Island"

So finally we have arrived at the first week of rehearsals for the long awaited return of the musical "Once on this Island"Written by Stephen Flaherty and Linda Ahrens the writers behind the excellent musicial "Ragtime" "Once on this Island" contains some absolutely cracking songs and arrangements..This version is the first in 15 years in the u.k.Martin Lowe of "Mama Mia and Jerry Springer the Opera fame has been drafted in to work in vocally direct the cast and I will Musically Direct the show!So far we are sailing along and enjoying the incredible vocals from a truly first rate cast led by Sharon D Clarke and Melanie Le Barrie..Martin Lowe is an absolutely fantastic vocal direcor so it's a real pleasure to observe him in full flow..A great learning experience as well for me and I intend to make the most of the next 3 months. I will put up updates as the production gathers momentum leading up to the first night in the Birmingham are websites if you want to get along to one of the shows on the tour.

New Alexander Hawkins Ensemble Cd out now on FMR Records.

The debut Alexander Hawkins Ensemble Cd featuring his new ensemble is released on FMR Records mixed, mastered,packaged and ready to go cased within a lovely cover photograph by his brother with Sleeve notes by Steve Beresford the long awaited release finally hits good stores and Gigs..Titled "No now is so" Check it out it's got some wonderful playing by a stellar cast of players from Alex himself on Piano duties and of course writing some excellent music as well as arranging music by composers like Anthony Braxton etc.The ensemble members are Spanish Drummer Javier Carmona on Drums,Otto Fischer Guitar,Dominic Lash on Double Bass and Hannah Marshall Cello and myself on Steel Pans and percussion duties. Recorded at the end of a critically acclaimed Uk tour last year the album catches the Ensemble at a crucial time in their developement!Anyway check it out and see what you think!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Album now out "BURN OUT MAMA"

Finally the waiting is over the "Burn out Mama" debut cd "OUT OF OFFICE" hits the shops this month!As well as the music created for the mama project An amazing amount of time and effort was put into getting the artwork and info looking good as well.This ably undertaken by Reija Lang who leads the project as well with her vocals.Reija has a design background and has brought that sensibility to this project in a big way achieving a very different look from anything else out on the market with an elaborate pullout CD sleeve that has now attracted attention from some very hip names in the design world. This has led to the Cd being picked up by people outside the normal Jazz Cd buying punter market! The album was Launched at the huge music industry convention in Bremen and the feedback has been remarkable.Fingers crossed that this interest transfers into gigs and sales!Anyway you can now purchase the album on itunes,amazon e.t.c.
Here is the website address for Burn out mama:

Jazz on TV

Here is something that you might want to look out for I have reprinted the info exactly as I got;

Hi Orphy,

Since we love and respect the Orphy Robinson Blog, we wanted to make sure you were aware of the biggest jazz event to hit TV this year. Icons Among Us: Jazz in the present tense has garnered attention from both the New York Times and The Los Angeles Times and we wanted to get you in on this exciting film.

“Icons” includes much well-filmed footage of musicians performing and rehearsing in clubs and studios. They include Terence Blanchard (who also serves the role of wise elder in interviews); Jason Moran; the Bad Plus; and Medeski, Martin and Wood. These purely musical sequences are the major attraction of the program: they indicate what current jazz musicians are actually up to. - NY Times

Icons Among Us: Jazz in the present tense is a documentary film series that captures the metamorphosis of jazz by showcasing the words, music, and spirit of the artists that are paving the way for an unprecedented musical evolution.

The four-part documentary film series examines the world of contemporary jazz looking at today’s brightest talent. Featuring live footage and interviews, the films include many current jazz icons including The Bad Plus, Terence Blanchard, Jason Moran, Ravi Coltrane, the Benevento-Russo Duo, Robert Glasper, Charlie Hunter, Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Medeski Martin and Wood. The films also features these performers’ legendary predecessors and influences including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Wynton Marsalis.

The Documentary Channel will present the film in its entirety Wednesday May 27th and Wednesday June 3rd starting at 8 pm EST. Check out the website for detailed information:

To learn more about the film, view the preview and get access to images and info go here:

Interviews Available With Executive Producer John W. Comerford

John W. Comerford is an award winning writer and producer of independent film and media. He is President of PARADIGM STUDIO, a film and television production company in Seattle and serves on the board of The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). SOMETHING ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIP TO JAZZ & MUSIC (noone cares that he graduated from UC Boulder)

Icons Among Us on Facebook and Myspace

Thank you for your time!

Katie Simons

Surprise Surprise I got nominated!

Received the news out of the blue that I had been nominated for an Education award the other day. A shock as I have been happily working away in so many different categories for years that are not exclusively Jazz orientated whereas this nomination is for recognition by the All party parliamentary Jazz appreciation group! The students on the live Jam course at the Roundhouse venue in Camden are out and out Rock students who have no idea I play Jazz and would probably be very amused to hear about it! Anyway I have now been invited to the awards ceremony on the 20th May to see who picks up the award at the Houses of Parliament.There are some people nominated for recognition for the first time that have been doing some great work like Jason Yarde in the Jazz Musician category and Kevin Le Gendre for a Journalist award as well as Darren Taylor for his fantastic work with his Online news and views website so it should be a great occasion to catch up with the guys as well! Here is the full list of nominees:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Recordings imminent releases

Alexander Hawkins album is now ready and being pressed as we speak.Really looking forward to this release as the band does have a special sound!
Burn out Mama (Out of Office) The same for this album we should have copies in the next couple of weeks.The Art work looks amazing!
Grewtronic Recently heard the mixes for The grewtronic album and they were definitly on point.Expecting to receive Cds soon.

Rowland Sutherlands Creative Force Gig

12 March 2009
19:30 - 22:30
Charlie Wrights International
45 Pitfield Street, Hoxton, N1 6DA
London, United Kingdom

Led by the dynamic flautist Rowland Sutherland, featuring award winning vibest Orphy Robinson and a special lineup.The finest blend of jazz with reggae, dub, funk, African and Brazilian grooves within colourful originals, making Creative Force an experience not to be missed!

Rowland Sutherland - Flutes
Orphy Robinson - Vibes/Keyboards
Fayyaz Virji - Trombone
Phil Dawson - Guitar
Simon Thorpe - Bass
Rod Youngs - Drums

Followed by jam session.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ok Here we go again February update

Been quiet on the Blog front for a few weeks as I have had my head down making decisions and trying to earn a crust!Filled in for 3 weeks for a friend at a local school music department which as turned out to be a real pleasure meeting and working with quite a few promising young musicians in the process. Actually found some checking out youtube for videos of musicians like Victor Wooton,Bernard Pirdie and other equally great musicians.Which was a real departure from the regular Pop chart X factor fodder I encounter in most schools!
Had the finished mastered copies of two of the six albums that are coming out this year that I have been lucky to play on.The first from the Grutronics stable lead by Pianist Steven Grew and the second from the debut album of Burn out Mama "Out of the Office" we are now waiting for the packaged Cds to arrive.
At the moment I'm reading a script and going through the music of a Musical Directed by the fantastic Theatre director Susan McKenna of Hackney Empire pantomime fame which every year is the leading panto in London.I will be the Music Director for the return of a broadway musical "Once on this Island" from May through to August.A bit of stability for a while will not do any harm!
This month sees the return to London of ace Pianist Keyboardist Joe Bashorun from living for seven years in Canada.He has now added the Drums to his Cv and judging by the videos I have seen on the net he will be quiet a welcome addition to the drum community here.Joe was in my band Annavas and wrote some of the music on both albums I recorded for Blue Note records.
It Will be great hooking up again to work on some material and blog will contain some news on Edge 09.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 here at last

Well its been a curiously strange year for me as I tried to limit myself to less projects than normal in order to just take some time out and decide what next? Some pretty big decisions have now been made and hopefully will turn out for the best..
The Edge Fringe Festival was a real highlight with plenty of potential for the New Year! Watch this space for some exciting news in the New Year regarding some more Fringe events!!!
There are 3 new Records coming out he early part of the year that I have played on these are the
Alexander Hawkins band...The Burn Out Mama...Louis Moholo Moholo Band.
Beggar & Co will also have a new release for the middle of the year.
I have also been sifting through some recordings held in the vaults that might be put out in the New Year also with a possible new solo album in the pipeline..
Here's to a great 2009 for all!

Jazz Alive End of Year

So finally 2008 has finished and we are heading into a hopefully better time than the one just finished..December saw the finish of the Jazz Alive project with the students performing to an audience of their peers plus some celeb Jazz performers turned up to show their support.
Courtney Pine kindly dropped in and presented some Arts Awards plus Mercury nominated pianist Zoe Rahman also presented some awards to all those students who took part in the course..
Darren Taylor Bassist and one of the hardest working and supportive musicians on the scene was also in the audience and giving words of encouragement to a willing and quite a bright bunch who
I hope will go on to better things in the future..
Positives for the year are moments like conducting the 100 strong Saxophone Massive in Norway at the Stavangar festival in May..Met some fantastic people and had a great time.
The first Blanche Neville concert with the young people with hearing difficulties wow didn't they give a good show plus the poet Baden who stood in at the last minute for a yet again missing poet who shall remain nameless!
Beggar and Co at the Jazz Cafe,Louis Moholo Moholo at the Vortex.Alexander Hawkins at the Vortex.Tony Bevan Bruise at the Voretx where all highlights for me..
The Roundhouse Live Jam and Junior Jam students gave their end of term concerts to a full house of eager friends and Families..
The N.L.O project with Sound came to an end and was really well received resulting in an offer to come back and continue the good work that has been started.
International Fluatist Keith Waithes who had been working on a 3 month project in my regular school brought his project to a successful conclusion!
The only downer for the year was probably the "Rich Mix" Debacle during the festival but hey they had pretty low standards to maintain and they sure struggled to even reach those!!