I’ve just returned from snowy Worcestershire after five days of recording with the incredibly talented Steve Aston. He normally plays rhythm guitar in with various other gypsy jazz or ‘jazz manouche’ musicians, but his original compositions break away from that style. They are almost all waltzes, many of them very slow and weighty but interspersed with volatile bursts of energy. They’re very interesting harmonically, with a definite influence from Steve’s love of the two Ericks – Sartie and Dolphy. It was great to play with the exceptional violinist Matt Holborn and guitarist Andy Morris of The Downing Street Years (catch them live if you ever get the chance), and to meet so many members of the European gypsy jazz fraternity, everyone a ridiculous virtuoso. Check out Remi Harris and Bar Zalel here. Bar produced the album and Remi was kind enough to host us in his beautiful house.
I’ve decided to do regular updates on this site detailing my musical activities to try to drum up some more interest in my work. As tends to happen, I’ll probably just do a flurry of blog posts over the next couple of days then relapse into e-obscurity.
Last Saturday I played at King’s Place with both Sons of Noel and Adrian and Woodpecker Wooliams. I prefer the excitement of sweaty rock clubs to concert venues, but it was refreshing to play with a nice PA and great engineers and it was a good opportunity for the live debut of my new flugelhorn (the best Christmas present ever) as well as my Yamaha CS-5. I can’t get enough of analogue synths recently. I also just got a Kenton Pro Midi to CV convertor so I can send note information to them and I’ve been having far too much fun with that.
Over the next few days I went up to Ben Hampson‘s somewhat al fresco mix room. It’s a little bit like sitting in a Scandinavian sauna crammed full of gear in the Sussex countryside. We finished off the upcoming Eyes & No Eyes album mixes, which I can’t wait to send off to mastering. It’s the fourth album we’ve worked on together after Alessi’s Ark‘s Time Travel (of which we only did about half), Sons of Noel and Adrian‘s Knots and Woodpecker Wooliams‘s The Bird School of Being Human. Final touches to the E&NE album included sending a few things through my eccentric, temperamental old Italian tape echo – the loveable Melos. It won’t give you an echo that’s in time and it skips and warbles all the time but it adds so much character.
After that Ben and I spent two days back at Brighton Electric recording overdubs for Rachael Dadd‘s new album. We were mostly just adding finishing touches after recording live takes in Brighton Acoustic then assembling a studio in Rachael’s house in Bristol to record the bulk of it.
Rachael plays a lot of prepared piano on the album, and so we’ve experimented with preparing other instruments to create unique and evocative sounds. This included threading wool through a harp’s strings, and creating a colourful desert guitar sound using tin foil at the bridge then doubling certain notes that jump out using the clarinets.
It’s been an eventful week; on top of all that I’ve managed to record some horn and synth parts for Peggy Sue‘s third LP, some overdubs for the debut album from The Mariner’s Children (also a Hampson/Hamblett production), do some “pre-production” and write some parts for Emma Gatrill‘s second album (and record her playing some vibraphone parts for Fear of Men), as well as rehearsing with Steve Aston ahead of our recording trip to The Hatch Studio in Worcestershire. More on that soon.