This month I’m part of Seth Bennett’s ‘What Love’ project; three gigs for a brand new group, interpreting/responding to the music of Charles Mingus. Also playing in the ensemble will be Kim Macari (trumpet), Ollie Dover (alto saxophone and bass clarinet), George Murray (trombone), Adam Fairhall (piano), Johnny Hunter (drums) and of course Seth on bass. Each member of the band will bring an arrangement of a Mingus composition (or their own Mingus-inspired new composition). It should be good fun! You can catch us in Sheffield, Cambridge and Manchester. See the flyer below for dates and venues…
After a great first batch of gigs this Autumn, BRÅK is back in early 2018 for a second series of improvised music nights at waterintobeer in Brockley. Colin Webster, Tom Ward and I are inviting a new set of duo partners for triple bills and tasty beers. I’m focussing on string players, playing sets with Benedict Taylor, Hannah Marshall and Seth Bennett. All the info is on Colin’s poster below…hope to see you there!
It’s almost out there! Today I shipped out albums to all the crowdfunder backers, and pre-orders are up on the Bandcamp site. The release date is 4th December, so if you order a copy between now and then, it should drop onto your doormat on the day. Even though we only recorded this in August, I feel like I’ve been working on it for a really long time, so it’s good to get it over the line. The first track is streaming online now:
Next up, it’s all hands on deck as we finish the last of the logistics ready for the double bill Article XI/Favourite Animals UK tour. Here’s the flyer again – come out and see us if we’re in your town…
A Sloth Racket live album ‘See The Looks On The Faces’ is coming out this month on the excellent Tombed Visions label. David McLean, who runs the label, approached me earlier this year and we came up with a plan to record the summer tour with a view to putting something together. The resulting album features music from our gigs in Cambridge (at Listen!) and Norwich (at Plink Plonk), expertly captured by our own Anton Hunter, who brought his recording set up on tour. David was keen to present two versions of a composition, and so ‘Edges’ appears twice on the album – but in very different forms…
To support the release we’re playing in Manchester, Canterbury and London. Come along – and grab yourself one of the limited edition Tombed Visions cassettes while you’re at it! Check out the poster below for all the info.
Favourite Animals is heading out this December on a double bill tour with Anton Hunter’s Article XI. The two ensembles share several members, so we thought it would be fun to take them out together! We have four dates around the Midlands and the North, with both bands releasing albums around the same time. The tour is supported by Arts Council England and The Fenton Arts Trust.
I’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo today for the upcoming Favourite Animals album. It will run until 4th October. From the campaign text:
This August I gathered my ten piece ensemble Favourite Animals to record a studio album at City, University of London. Thanks to our trombone player Tullis Rennie who lectures there, we had access to the world class facilities over three days. With Alex Bonney engineering, we recorded loads of music. Now I need YOUR help to get it out there! I’m fundraising to cover the musicians and engineers’ fees, mixing, mastering and CD production, ready for release this December when the band goes on tour.
You can check out the video below and support the campaign here. Help me make it happen!
A new thing for the Autumn: BRÅK. With Colin Webster and Tom Ward, I’ll be co-hosting this new night of improv triple bills at the excellent beer shop waterintobeer in Brockley (our local!). We were invited to put on some music at the shop earlier this year as part of the Brockley Max festival, and after that initial gig went really well we’ve been asked back for more. Each date will see the three of us play with different duo partners. Check out Colin’s poster below for the lineup. The name is pronounced ‘brock’ (geddit?) and apparently means ‘noise’ in Norwegian and ‘fight’ (!) in Swedish…
A cluster of new releases have appeared over the past month or so, while this blog has been concentrating on Sloth Racket activities, so here they are in one post.
First up, I’m really pleased to have collobarated with Tullis Rennie on Blurts/Growls, an album compiled from our live trombone/baritone sax improvisations at Cafe Oto Project Space and Free Range in Canterbury late last year. We spent some time together cutting up the music into shortish tracks, making it more of a ‘studio’ type project, although it’s assembled from live recordings. The album came out on Luminous as half of a special LUME Festival double release, and Tullis was even cool with me doing some white goods themed cover art…
The other half of the festival release was the third volume of the Live At LUME fundraiser album series. This edition is a selection of live recordings from the LUME Lab gigs we put on at IKLECTIK in the first half of this year, with tracks from ensembles led by Julie Kjær, Craig Scott and Anton Hunter. All proceeds from sales of these albums go towards future LUME activities: it makes a big difference for us that there’s a small stream of extra income we can use to supplement any project funding we’re able to secure. Have a listen to the ace new music by Julie, Craig and Anton below.
Finally, Tullis and I appear again on Noon: 22nd Century, a new cassette from the Zero Wave label. The album is two live sets by Far Rainbow with guests: one one side Colin Webster and me, and Tullis and me on the other (me me me!). The set with Tullis is from the same Free Range gig that we took some of the Blurts/Growls material from, so there’s a nice connection between the two albums. The tape has super cool artwork by Emily Mary Barnett (who plays drums in Far Rainbow).
Reviews of the new Sloth Racket album have been emerging since it came out in June, so this is a round-up of what people have been writing about our second release.
In printed words, we had a good reception from Daniel Spicer in Jazzwise:
Also in print was this nice review from Stewart Smith in The Wire magazine:
The blogosphere was also into the album. From the UK we had very positive (and extensive!) writeups:
Dalston Sound: ‘For all the restraint on display this is meaty, powerful music, thoughtful and multi-dimensional with no lacunae and no navel-gazing. And Roberts’s authorial stamp is strong, so Sloth Racket are shaping up as one of the most distinctive groups to emerge from the current UK Jazz/improv nexus.’
The Jazz Mann: ‘This is a group that is willing to stretch itself and take musical risks. Many of the musicians have previously played together in other line ups and this is reflected by a shared sense of adventure and a cohesive and collective group dynamic.’
Sandy Brown Jazz: ‘Sloth Racket’s second album Shapeshifters is well worth enquiry. It literally sharpens up on the creative edge of improvisation.’
Big thanks to all the reviewers for their support of the record!