The excellent waterintobeer have invited us back for a third series of BRÅK improv gigs in the shop. I’m looking forward to playing duos with Dee Byrne, Rachel Musson and Alex Ward this time around, and Colin and Tom also have a great selection of guests lined up. Join us in Brockley for more evenings of beer and music…In other BRÅK news, I’ve just seen some great photos by Arek Golosz taken at our September and October gigs last year. You can check out the full selection on the gallery page of our new BRÅK website, but here are a couple of my sets with Tullis Rennie and Kim Macari:
Reviews of the Favourite Animals album have been appearing since its release in December. Have a listen as you peruse what the critics had to say below…
In the March issue of the Wire magazine was a half-page triple review from Stewart Smith of the Favourite Animals and Article XI albums, plus Sloth Racket’s live album ‘See The Looks On The Faces’. Favourite Animals are described as as ‘lurching between riff and abstraction’, ‘maintain[ing] an elegant balance between emergent melody and the wilder activity at its fringes’…
Also in print was a great Jazzwise review from Thomas Rees, who writes that the ‘gritty and anarchic’ Favourite Animals album ‘confirms Roberts’ talent as a composer and Luminous as a label to watch’.
Excitingly, Dave Sumner at Bandcamp Daily (also of Bird Is The Worm) included Favourite Animals in his list of ‘The Best Jazz On Bandcamp: January 2018’. ‘On first listen,’ he writes, Favourite Animals sounds like it may be broken,’ but he then goes on to describe ‘startling moments of altered perspective’ in an enthusiastic mini-review complete with Bandcamp embed.
Steve Day published an extremely detailed writeup on Sandy Brown Jazz, describing the album as ‘a brilliantly conceived big band construct’ and ‘radical contemporary music which is absolutely on the money’. ‘Favourite Animals are making a ‘mindset’ change not just a musical one,’ he writes to close the review.
Sammy Stein on Something Else Reviews also has good things to say about the album: ‘Everyone creates, is supported and leads at different times… [and] there is also a sense of one-ness and understanding which only happens when musicians are completely intuitive of each other.’
Lee Rice-Epstein posted a lovely four star review of the album on the Free Jazz Collective blog (‘bursts out of the speakers’!).
On The Quietus, Stewart Smith included the Favourite Animals and Article XI albums in his Complete Communion Jazz Roundup: UK Special: ‘Roberts and Hunter show new possibilities for the leftfield big band by combining sophisticated ensemble writing with state of the art extended techniques from the wilder shores of free improvisation.’
One of the first reviews that came in was from Gert Derkx on Op Duvel (in Dutch). A bit of online auto-translation help for my almost non-existent Dutch suggests that he counts Favourite Animals, among a number of current bands, as proof that exciting improvised music can be made by large lineups!
Ian Mann at The Jazz Mann came to the Birmingham gig of our Favourite Animals/Article XI tour in December, and reported back with a great review of both bands on his blog. ‘The music of Favourite Animals is consistently mutating, never remaining in one place for long and taking great delight in stylistic and dynamic contrasts,’ he writes of our set, going on to describe the gig as ‘an absorbing and intriguing evening of uncompromising music making at the interface where the composed and the spontaneous conjoin to rewarding effect.’
The Newcastle gig was also reviewed: Steve H on Bebop Spoken Here describes the Favourite Animals set as ‘very cinematic’ and the gig as a ‘brilliant doubleheader’.
Compiling this post prompts me once again to thank the 90 truly amazing people who backed my crowdfunding campaign to make the Favourite Animals album last year. Without you, the music wouldn’t have made it out there and into the ears of music lovers and critics! Thank you!!
Favourite Animals live photo by Oliver Dover.
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…Update: now with rehearsal video….
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…