Category Archives: Word Of Moth

Trip report: Word Of Moth at Jazzwerkstatt Festival, CH

I’m just back from a fantastic trip to Bern, Switzerland, playing at Jazzwerkstatt‘s tenth anniversary festival with Word Of Moth. Dee and I were invited by Marc Stucki and Benedikt Reising, the artistic directors at Jazzwerkstatt, to bring a LUME ensemble to the festival and collaborate with some Swiss musicians. Two sax players who have spent the last decade building up the festival into its current five-night form, Marc and Benedikt share a lot of common ground with us, so it was a great to chance to get an insight into the Swiss take on artist-led endeavours like our own. They both appeared several times across the programme as players, popping up in horn sections of various different ensembles and as part of established collaborations. It was clear that Jazzwerkstatt inhabits the same territory that LUME aims to; creating self-produced gigs and festivals that allow the artistic directors to develop their own work within the context of a wider community of artists and collaborators.

The festival venue was Turnhalle, the converted gymnasium of an old school building that is now inhabited by a truly amazing cross-arts space called PROGR. The building houses artists’ studios, venue spaces of different sizes, two cafe/bar/restaurant options and a new ‘living room’ open for use for small events and meetups. It was immediately evident upon walking through the school gates that this is a place with a strong artistic community around it.

In discussion on email with Marc and Benedikt before the festival, we decided to expand the usual Word Of Moth lineup of me, Dee, Seth Bennett and Johnny Hunter to include Oli Kuster (keys), Simon Petermann (trombone) and Lukas Thöni (trumpet). LUME suggested the instrumentation, Jazzwerkstatt picked the players, and the rehearsals were booked in. Rather than writing new music for the collaboration, we arrived in Bern armed only with the existing quartet repertoire and a plan to arrange new versions of the music through rehearsal with the Swiss musicians. This approach felt slightly risky, but it was closest to the spirit of how Word Of Moth usually works (simple frameworks for pieces, that we flesh out into arrangements together). We had spent the past couple of weeks working intensively as a quartet for the recording of our first album and two UK performances, so the band felt in good shape as we set out. Oli, Simon and Lukas turned out to be a great fit, and over the course of two rehearsals at PROGR we assemble a set of music for the gig.

The technical team working on the festival were a total joy to work with, and the gig had possibly the best live sound on stage I’ve experienced. They also used a very pleasing 3D stage plan (see above) to discuss how we wanted to set up. As our second rehearsal was a public one taking place on the stage, we worked on the music as the team simultaneously set up the microphones and monitors, and by the end of the afternoon everyone was ready for the gig. I liked this approach as it meant we had quite a long period to acclimatise ourselves on stage, which I think meant I felt more comfortable in the space when it came to the performance.

Photo from the Jazzwerkstatt Instagram, credit coming soon

Our set was on the festival’s opening night, and we played to a packed house of enthusiastic listeners. After months of discussion and preparation, the gig felt like it was over in about two seconds (as these sort of things usually do); but the unanimous feeling after the show was that it had gone really well. Thanks to Jazzwerkstatt’s very generous hospitality we were able to stay on for the rest of the festival, and conversations with our three Swiss bandmates during that time revealed that everyone was keen to play together again in the future. We left Bern having made many new connections, heard all sorts of new music, and encountered a new city and its artists. Thinking back over the trip as I write this I’m left with a feeling of optimism; that exciting taste of a new creative thing emerging and looking around for where to go next. We have already started talking about how to make a UK return leg happen, so I have a feeling that the next LUME/Jazzwerkstatt encounter will be making itself known before too long…

Word Of Moth action in February

Word Of Moth (complete with new drummer Johnny Hunter) has lots of stuff planned for this year, starting with a flurry of activity in February. We’re appearing at the first LUME Lab gig on 8th February at IKLECTIK, presenting new music that we’ve been working on. Then we’re heading into the studio to record an album, before heading to Wolverhampton on 17th February to play at Jazz At The Arena. After that, we’re off to Bern, Switzerland to play for Jazzwerkstatt at their tenth anniversary festival! It’s all happening….

Wire review for LUME Festival

LUME Festival has a review in this month’s Wire magazine, courtesy of Daniel Spicer. He really sums up the weird post-Brexit mood on the day (two days after the EU referendum result) and has some pretty glowing things to say about the music, including Word Of Moth and Article XI. Although it was only in June, the festival feels like a long time ago now. Roll on the next one!

(Click on the image to enlarge).



Word Of Moth outing and Seth/Lisle/Cath trio set

I have a couple of nice gigs coming up this week. First of all, Word Of Moth is reappearing on Friday 30th October at I’klectik Artlab near Waterloo. Olie Brice has invited us to share the bill with his quartet, and we’ll have special guest James Opstad on bass. This will be my first time playing at I’klectik, so I’m looking forward to checking out the space…

The second gig is our next LUME night at the Vortex, on Sunday 1st November. I’m playing a trio set with Seth Bennett and Andrew Lisle. This has never happened before! Pretty excited about it. Also on the bill is a duo of Tom Taylor and Rob Luft, who I haven’t heard play together, so it will be cool to hear them. If you’re free, come along and join us for a night of improvised music. Here’s the poster (in its two forms!)…


Moths at Lancaster and Sloths at the Oxford

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!

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!

Live At LUME album and LUME is 2 birthday gig…

Quick post about an exciting week coming up. Firstly, we’re releasing a compilation album called ‘Live At LUME’ to raise money for future LUME activities. All the tracks are recordings made at LUME gigs and donated by the artists. Alex Bonney also donated his time to tidy up and master the album – so although they’re bootlegs, they sound really great! Have a listen below and grab your copy from the Bandcamp page. It was another great excuse for me to do some linocut printmaking too – so there’s a handmade CD edition…

Also happening this week is LUME’s 2nd birthday party/gig! We’re decamping to Hundred Years Gallery on Thursday 9th July for a night of improvised music with a difference. See the (also handmade and involving linocut printmaking) flyer below…


Word Of Moth

After nearly two years of running LUME, Dee Byrne and I have decided that it’s time to collaborate on a musical project. We have taken the liberty of booking ourselves in for a gig at Long White Cloud on Thursday 12th February, roped in a couple of our favourite musicians, and named the project Word Of Moth – after a silly misreading while filling in a form (because, you know, we mainly do admin when we’re together).

Seth Bennett, who I first worked with in Anton Hunter’s Article 11 band last year, has agreed to be on bass. He’s great to play with! On drums will be Tom Greenhalgh, who I’ve heard in various different bands including the excellent Vole, but haven’t played with before. I’m very much looking forward to it.

Dee and I will both be bringing some compositions, and there will be lots of space for group improvisation too. If you’re free, come down and hear the results…