Much more about the Sloth Racket Shapeshifters tour coming soon, but for starters here’s a lovely new video by Agata Urbaniak, taken at the Brighton gig at Safehouse…
Sloth Racket has a new video! Our good friend Ben Owen has made this great short film of us playing at a LUME gig at The Vortex in May this year. The piece we play is called ‘Shapeshifters’ and will appear on our second album, coming out in Summer 2017.
More videos of the band can be found on the Sloth Racket page. Also this month, some new nice words about the band have appeared online; from Dave Sumner on his latest Bird Is The Worm ‘This Is Jazz Today’ dispatch, and from Stewart Smith in his 2016 jazz/improv roundup on The Quietus. Thanks both!
Anton Hunter has posted a video of the LUMEkestra playing his composition ‘LUME Kestrel’. The gig was at IKLECTIK or 14th November, as part of our special LUME triple bill show for the London Jazz Festival. As well as Anton’s piece we played compositions by Paulo Duarte, Tom Ward, Martin Pyne and Dave Kane. It was a lot of fun, and the ensemble will definitely appear again in 2017: its mission is to create a space for the composers around LUME to experiment with writing for large groups.
I was quite pleased with my flyer for this gig too:
A lovely video by Ben Owen has appeared, of the Cubitt Gallery‘s 2016 Arts Picnic on Islington Green. I played a set of quartet free improvisation with Tom Ward, Olie Brice and Andrew Lisle while all sorts of painting and dancing was going on. It was a lot of fun!
Anton Hunter has recently posted a video online from our Article XI gig at the Vortex in 2014! Check it out below. It will be great to play with this band again at LUME Festival in June….
We’re running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the first ever LUME Festival, happening this June at IKLECTIK ARTLAB. Check out the video below and head over to the project page to support…
I’ve had a bunch of video footage from Sloth Racket gigs (thanks Anton!) kicking around for a while, but haven’t had a chance to do anything with it. Now, finally, I’ve posted the first video up online, from our gig at LUME (when we were still at Long White Cloud) in April.
Also hidden in the depths of my computer was this cool poster from our gig at the Kazimier Garden in Liverpool in July. It was a great gig with a lovely crowd, and we were really well looked after by Joel the organiser and DJ. I don’t know who designed the poster, but I love this frog!
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!
Last week I went to the Freedom Loft Sessions at the Vortex – a free improv jam organised by a team of musicians including Orphy Robinson, Tori Handsley and Cleveland Watkiss. It was a lot of fun! I didn’t realise at the time, but they were filming all the sets, so here’s a video of the ad-hoc group I played with…
It was Seb Silas on tenor, Nikos Ziarkas on guitar, Winston Blissett on bass, Julie Kjaer on alto sax, Tom Ward on bass clarinet, and me on baritone sax.
Great night – I’ll definitely be going back!