Category Archives: Madwort Sax Quartet

Madwort Sax Quartet album available to pre-order

It’s out there! Well, almost. The Madwort Sax Quartet album is available to pre-order from Efpi Records now:

We’re touring to celebrate the release: catch us at Jazz North East, Bridge Hotel, Newcastle (12 February)Plink Plonk, York Tavern, Norwich (1 March); A Little Bit Of Nothing, Derby (2nd March); IKLECTIK, London (5 March) and The Wonder Inn, Manchester (6 March).

Madwort Sax Quartet live album recording

Quick post to report that Madwort Sax Quartet has recorded what will hopefully become a debut album! On 16th April we played a LUME gig at Hundred Years Gallery, and the whole thing was recorded by Alex Bonney. It was a great evening with a lovely crowd (thanks to all who came!), so I look forward to hearing the results. Stay tuned for news of the release plans…

sax quartet at hyg

March/April gigs

It’s been an admin-heavy February, with a lot of preparations for the forthcoming Sloth Racket album release and tour plus some heavy doses of LUME admin too. I’m happy to say though that I’ll be emerging from hibernation in March! A few nice gigs coming up:

On the 15th March Colin Webster and I have been invited to guest with Far Rainbow at Zero Wave Club (The Fiddler’s Elbow, Kentish Town). We’re billed as duelling saxophonists on the FB event…uh oh! This is part of a really nice multi-band bill – check out the flyer below.

zero wave 9 flyer

On 3rd April I’ll be playing trio with Olie Brice and Corey Mwamba, on the other side of the bill from Dave Kane Quartet at one of our LUME Vortex gigs. Looking forward to this, and the more organised among you can buy tickets for it already.

The last gig I want to mention here is a special one. On 16th April Madwort Sax Quartet are recording our debut album live at LUME! This is happening at Hundred Years Gallery, which is a lovely space. It’s going to be ace to finally record an album with the quartet, which has been playing Tom’s music since 2012. Tickets will be on sale for this soon too.

All in all, a nice couple of months – see you out there!

Summer into Autumn

With multiple things to mention on here, I thought it was about time for a proper blog post rather than the usual snatched update. Sitting outside writing this on a warm but grey day, it really feels like we’re at the tipping point between Summer and Winter; a pretty nice place to be. Autumn is my favourite season and at this point in the year there’s always that feeling that we’re on the edge of it, about to dive in, start a new chapter. For me I think this is mainly a hangover from living in academic year mode for possibly too many years; but music seems to be structured the same way, with lots of people about to start their new seasons after taking a Summer break. There might not be much going on now, but things are about to happen….time to get a new pencil case! And so, with that in mind, this post will attempt to tie up the loose ends of my Summer activities and look forward to imminent Autumn ones.

Manchester Jazz Festival

The trip to Manchester with Madwort Sax Quartet (featuring last minute special guest Dee Byrne) was great fun. The gig was sold out – crazy! – and Tom’s music went down really well with the audience. The plan is to get a proper recording done this year, and I think we all felt inspired after the MJF gig to make it happen. Dee did an amazing job stepping in for Chris Williams at the last minute too. David McLenachan took some photos of us that show the gig’s lovely setting in the Portico Library:

MSQ in the portico 2 MSQ in the porticoTom’s blog post about the gig also features some tiny videos of the performance on Vine, taken by MJF.

That evening I was part of another gig at Soup Kitchen, as the UK leg of the Efpi/Onze Heures Onze collaboration. We played a set with all the French and UK musicians together, and then OXYD (Alexandre Herer’s band) played the second set. It was really nice to do the collaborative set live after meeting a couple of times in a rehearsal setting. There are a couple of videos of the set, taken by Jazz North, which I’ll post soon.

I also managed to catch a lot of other music while I was at the festival, with highlights including Rodrigo Constanzo’s DFScore performance, Dave Kane Quartet (with last minute special guest Nick Malcolm), and Craig Scott’s Lobotomy live show. Steve Mead’s programming at MJF is really great. He isn’t afraid to put on some totally out-there music, even in the main festival pavilion, and judging by all the packed-out gigs his audiences are clearly up for hearing it. If you ever want to go on holiday to a jazz festival, I’d say go to Manchester. The entry charges were really low too, so going to multiple performances didn’t break the bank. Inspirational stuff from a programming point of view, I thought.

Ripsaw Catfish ‘Shoaling’ live recordings

In a bid to try and get on top of some stuff I’ve been neglecting, I’ve finally got around to putting the Ripsaw Catfish ‘Shoaling’ recordings up online. This was our collaborative touring project last November/December, where Anton and I played five gigs around the UK with ad-hoc ‘shoals’ of local musicians. We wrote a set of small compositions (fragments really) and sent them around in advance, with the idea being that the shoal music would be ‘informed by, incorporating or ignoring’ these elements. The results were all completely different – obviously! Have a listen:

Ripsaw Catfish hasn’t had a very busy 2015 so far, although we’ve been playing together a lot in other projects, but we have a couple of things coming up in the Autumn: we’re playing in London at the Zero Wave Club on October 20th and in Birmingham at Fizzle on November 3rd. These will be straight-up, non-shoaling, duo gigs.


As well as those Catfish gigs, Word of Moth and Sloth Racket will both re-emerge this Autumn. We’re playing a Word of Moth set at Lancaster Jazz Festival on 20th September as Seth is their artist in residence. Our first Moth festival outing! Before that, we’re appearing at Chris Dowding’s St Paul’s Sessions series in Marylebone on September 4th, sharing the bill with a solo set from the formidable John Butcher! Intense. It will be great to resurrect the Moth; after having a lot of fun doing the first gig in February, Dee and I have been so busy with LUME activities (mainly the tour) that the project has been on the back-burner. I’m writing some new music for it and can’t wait to get stuck in!

Sloth Racket are also out and about in September, playing at Jazz At The Oxford on September 21st. This is the first gig of George Crowley’s ‘Can Of Worms Presents’ series, so we’ll be sharing the bill with them which should be a blast! After that our next outing will be at London Jazz Festival in November, as part of LUME’s plans which haven’t been announced yet….not totally sure why, but I’m sure they will be soon. Anyway, it will be good! Sam Andreae is in Berlin until January, so having two Sloths gigs in that period is amazing.

LUME plans

This is the first Autumn in a while where we won’t be launching into another season of weekly LUME gigs. We decided that the format needed shaking up and streamlining, and that we needed to take an extra-long Summer break, so September and October will be quiet on the LUME front. The ‘LUME Presents’ Vortex residency is starting up again on September 6th, so there will be a couple of gigs happening, but LUME proper will undergo a sort of re-launch in late November. We’ve put in a grant application and plans are underway, but we’re keeping it under our hats for now.  It’s been so nice to take time off and reflect on everything we’ve done in the last two and a bit years, to take stock and then think about what we want to do next. I feel like we’ve been working non-stop for the whole time (and actually, we are working now even though the gigs aren’t running), so this break from the gig routine is very welcome. LUME isn’t dead though….watch this space, all that stuff….we’ll be back!

Manchester Jazz Festival 2015

Next week I’m heading up to Manchester for two very nice gigs, both on the same day as part of the Manchester Jazz Festival. On Wednesday 5th August, Madwort Sax Quartet are playing a sold-out set (!) at 3pm in the Portico Library. That evening, I’m heading to Soup Kitchen to play in the UK leg of the Efpi/Onze Heures Onze collaboration. The French leg happened in May, when I travelled to Paris with a whole bunch of Efpi-affiliated musicians.

Dee Byrne will be standing in for Chris Williams in MSQ, as Chris has broken a bone in his hand. We’re all gutted that Chris won’t be on the gig, but it should be a lot of fun playing with Dee.

I had a great time at MJF last year, so I’m looking forward to this trip very much!

Paris with Efpi and Ripsaw Catfish

I just got back from a great trip to Paris, as part of a collaboration between artists from Efpi Records and Onze Heures Onze Collective. It was organised by Jazz North, and this was the first leg of the exchange. Anton Hunter Trio, Ben Cottrell from Efpi and I travelled down to meet Julien Pontvianne and Alexandre Herer from OHO and play together. We had a nice session playing a combination of improvised music and some composed material that we’d all brought along, and then the following evening Anton’s trio played a set as part of Festival Onze Heures Onze.

It was a really interesting and inspiring few days, and I look forward to the second leg of the trip! This will be in August, when the OHO musicians will travel to the UK to perform with us at the Manchester Jazz Festival (where I will also be playing with Madwort Sax Quartet on the same day).

Onze Heure Onze Efpi photo (Stephanie K)Comedy group shot…(photo by Stephanie Knibbe)

OHOfest flyerThe festival flyer!

While we were in Paris, Anton and I managed to squeeze in a Ripsaw Catfish gig at Plateforme, a fantastic arts space run by another collective. This was made possible by Anton Mobin, who we met earlier this year when we shared the bill with him and Benedict Taylor at a Raw Tonk Records night. We had a great time: the gig was absolutely packed with an enthusiastic listening audience, and we were part of an eclectic programme with Crash Duo (Anton Mobin and Ayato) and Mariachi (aka the solo guitar project of Nina Garcia). Massive thanks to Anton M for making this happen: it was brilliant to be able to take advantage of our time in Paris with an extra date!

crash duo at plateformeCrash Duo…

mariachi at plateformeMariachi…

catfish at plateformeRipsaw Catfish!

This was possibly my first proper gig outside the UK and it was ace. Here’s to more music further afield in the future!

Eb sax quartet for ‘new dark art’

Last week I spent a very enjoyable day playing through Corey Mwamba’s new work ‘new dark art’ as part of a special Eb sax quartet we put together. The lineup was a Madwort/Saxoctopus hybrid: Chris Williams and Tom Ward on altos, with Colin Webster and me on baritones. Corey was documenting the session as it forms part of his MRes in composition, so here’s a video:

We’re looking forward to more activity with this music and the quartet!

Quadraceratops at The Vortex!

Just confirmed: Quad will be playing at The Vortex on 17th September! I’m very excited about this. We’ll be sharing the bill with ReDiviDeR at a gig presented by Match And Fuse.

The Vortex, in Dalston, is my favourite venue in London and I’ve spent a lot of time in the audience checking out amazing gigs, so it will be fantastic to play there with the band. We’ll hopefully give a second airing to the two new tunes we played at LUME a couple of weeks ago. I would write another new one too, but it’s SO SOON! *Runs off to practice.* Here’s ‘Calico’ on its first outing:


If you can make it to the Vortex gig, it would be lovely to see you there…

Addition: I also just found out that Madwort Sax Quartet will be playing at Vortex Downstairs on September 4th! More info about this soon…