I thought it would be nice to post up some Sloth Racket tracks, as this band is my main focus at the moment. The album is being mixed next week (woop!) and the plan is that it will be released in May, but in the mean time here we are at LUME, Long White Cloud earlier this year…
The last few weeks have been pretty packed for me, with some really nice gigs around the place. Ripsaw Catfish returned to Birmingham and played at a lovely and busy Fizzle night (good work Andrew Woodhead!), I played a trio set with Seth Bennett and Andrew Lisle for the first time, and LUME took over the Barbican freestage for an afternoon as part of London Jazz Festival. Sloth Racket appeared at the LUME LJF gig, fresh from the excellent Limefield Studio in Manchester where we recorded our first album – the takes of which I’m listening through now…plus I went to Leeds and Sheffield, depping on bari with Beats & Pieces Big Band. It’s all been a bit mad!
December is looking a bit more chilled out at the moment, which is really nice. Our new tiny LUME label, Luminous, is releasing its first album (‘Interference Patterns’ by Deemer) on 7th December, and we’re launching it on the 6th at the Vortex. We’ll also be running another dice-and-hat gig at Hundred Years Gallery on the 17th. Before that, Ripsaw Catfish continue our accidental ‘city a month’ series by playing at Safehouse in Brighton on the 16th. I’m working on lots of plans for 2016 over the next few weeks too, so watch this space for (hopefully more frequent) updates.
Peter Woodman took some great photos of our LUME afternoon at the Barbican: here’s one of Sloth Racket, complete with Dee standing on the (awesome) LUME merch stall, and Gina Southgate painting us as we play…
Quick post with a couple of bits of news…
Ripsaw Catfish is heading to Birmingham this week! We’re playing at Fizzle on Tuesday 3rd November (tomorrow!), in a double bill with a quartet comprising Trish Clowes, Percy Pursglove, Oli Brice and Mark Sanders. Should be a really nice evening – head down if you’re in the area!
Also, Sloth Racket is going into the studio next week. Woop! We’re heading to Limefield Studio in Manchester to record what will hopefully be our first release. After that we head back down to London to play a set on the Barbican freestage on Saturday 14th November, as part of the LUME programme at LJF. We’re working on lots of Sloth activity for 2016 too….more on that to follow…
I’m not quite sure where this month has gone, but my ‘late September’ gigs are this weekend! On Sunday 20th September, I’m heading up to Lancaster Jazz Festival with Word Of Moth, playing in the Hall at 3.45pm. I’m looking forward to checking out the festival. Then on Monday 21st, I’ll be back in London to play at Jazz At The Oxford with Sloth Racket. This will be a lot of fun – were sharing the bill with Oxford organiser George Crowley’s band Can Of Worms, as the first gig in his ‘Can Of Worms Presents’ series. See you there!
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:
Tom’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.
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!
We had a great time this week playing the first two Sloth Racket gigs. The Gateshead gig went really well and it was fantastic to play at the Sage. What a brilliant venue! Huge thanks to Jazz North East for putting us on as part of their excellent ‘Women Make Music’ series. Rachel Musson, Hannah Marshall and Julie Kjaer played an inspirational set on the other side of the bill too, plus earlier in the day I co-ran a free improvisation workshop with Rachel, which was good fun and something I’d definitely like to do more of in the future.
Tom Ward took this shot of our set…
Last night we played the London ‘leg’ at LUME. It was a lovely night! Very nice crowd and great to play the music out again. Another Ward’s-eye view of the gig (Seth is almost totally hidden though!):
Quick post about my next upcoming project. On Sunday 12th April I’ll be taking Sloth Racket, a brand new band featuring some of my favourite musicians (and favourite people!) to Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Anton Hunter, Sam Andreae, Seth Bennett and Johnny Hunter will be joining me to play some new music that I’ve put together especially for the gig; with a heavy emphasis on improvisation, of course.
We’re sharing the bill with the excellent trio of Rachel Musson, Julie Kjaer and Hannah Marshall, so it promises to be a great evening all round. Tickets are available from the festival website. Our gig is part of Jazz North East’s ‘Women Make Music’ series, supported by PRSF.
It wouldn’t be a new band without a gig at LUME, so we’ll be heading to Long White Cloud on Thursday 16th April for the London leg. Hope to see you there or at Gateshead!
In lieu of a band photo, here’s my sketch of a sloth making a racket.