The RAC Club Epsom was a lovely place to play my last gig of 2015 on New Years Eve. It was a wonderful setting and we had some great musicians to play in the New Year. The venue had been decorated in the style of a casino, and roulette and card tables had been provided to give it an exciting atmosphere. Although we were playing predominately jazz swing music we decided to liven things up towards the end of the evening, and we played a range of different dance styles. A fabulous event from start to finish, I always enjoy playing on new years eve as it means I start the new year on a musical high.
Thoroughly enjoyed playing at my first local gig in my hometown of Budleigh Salterton in Devon earlier today. I was delighted to perform at the renowned Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival with the fantastic Chris Gradwell on Sax and Clarinet. Chris and I have known each other for years and worked on various things up in London over the years. We’ve both worked with the London Symphony Orchestra and various West End Shows. So when I relocated to East Devon with my family earlier this year it was the obvious thing to hook up with Chris who lives down this way.
The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival is a fabulous event in East Devon, boasting top authors, with many events and readings not to mention book launches and book signings. We were invited to perform in the Marquee on the Green, and entertained a couple of hundred people over the course of our set. Typically this type of event we would be playing background music, and so we were absolutely delighted to receive much applause throughout our set.
There is one more day of the festival remaining, so get yourselves along tomorrow if you are able. We have already been rebooked for next year though, so if you don’t make it along tomorrow then put it in your diary for 2016.
For any of my local pupils who enjoy ragtime and blues guitar ‘My Black Hat’ are playing at the Salterton Arms in Budleigh Salterton this Sunday 21st and every third Sunday of the month from 8.00 to 11.00. The guitarist, Ian Gardner plays one of the nicest guitars I’ve heard in a long while, it’s a Sigma 28VS which sounds as good as any Martin I’ve ever heard. Get along if you fancy an evening listening to some quality guitar playing.
It was lovely to hear some of my old musician friends performing at the Budleigh Salterton Jazz Festival recently. Mark Nightingale (Trombone), Martin Shaw (Trumpet) and Alan Barns (Saxophone) made up the front line supported by the Craig Milverton Trio and special guest singer Tina May, what a tremendous sound they made together. And a special thank you to Tony Dealler (organiser of the festival) who managed to find me a ticket at the last minute from this sell out concert. To hear so many great jazz musicians on stage together is truly amazing, everything they played seemed effortless.
Mark Nightingale, Martin Shaw and I go back a long way, we all started playing together many years ago in NYJO (National Jazz Youth Orchestra) when we were just starting out in the music business. As a spin off of NYJO Mark Nightingale formed his own band called Bone Structure, which consisted of five trombones and a rhythm section together with a singer. I was delighted to be asked by Mark to join the band. Bone Structure performed regular gigs all over London and became a well respected and high profile band particularly amongst trombone players. We recorded an album in 1989 on Humphrey Littleton’s record label (Calligraph Records) joined by Lorraine Craig on vocals. It was a great play for all the band members as we had some fantastic arrangements (many of theses arrangements written by Mark himself).
Listen to a sample track from the album below:
It was great to have the front line of trumpet and sax on this gig, usually the line-up is rhythm section and singers but the brass really adds to the energy of the band. When I started playing in function bands back in the mid eighties most of the bands had at least four brass players as well as 4 singers and rhythm section. Due to economics and synthesisers bands have become much smaller as they are able produce a big sound using keyboards.
Having worked with Des O’Connor all over the Uk and abroad it was great to be asked to play in his band recently on a couple of theatre concerts in my home county of Essex.
The first half of the show comprises of Des telling a few jokes with some light piano accompaniment from Ray Monk. The second half features the band playing a mixture of jazz and light pop songs. Des is now in his early eighties but still manages to capture the audience and make them laugh. It never ceases to impress me how one man can go on stage by himself and entertain all those people for more than two hours.
A recent gig on HMS President on the Thames was very enjoyable particularly as the singer in the band was the amazing Jacquie Hicks who is featured on two of our Music For Baby early years CD’s (Jazz Nursery Rhymes and Baby Sings Christmas). Swing music was the flavour of music for this event and not only did we received great feedback from the guests, over £4000 was raised for charity.
It was great to perform at the Concord Club, Heathrow playing strict dance music for dance enthusiasts. When I began my career many years ago as a professional guitarist I regularly played at these style of events. One in particular was the Café de Paris in Leicester Square which held regular tea dances in the afternoons together with featured dance nights like Jump and Jive and swing events. I learned a lot of what I know today playing at these type of gigs. Recently there has been a bit of a revival of this sort of music, thanks to Strictly Come Dancing on the TV which features a couple of colleagues of mine Trevor Barry and Paul Dunn in the house band.
I always enjoy playing guitar at Wimbledon and I’ve been doing so for about the last ten years. We play Brazilian style music with a slightly unusual line up of trombone, saxophone, guitar, double bass and drums. The audience who are predictably tennis enthusiasts are able to enjoy listening to the band while they sup their champagne and eat their strawberries and cream in the Tea Garden. It’s an outdoor concert so it is rather weather dependant but as yet I’ve not played there when the weather has been too awful. One of the perks of the gig is that we get the opportunity to watch some of the tennis matches. It is often the case as a working musician you get to go and see amazing places through your work and this is one of the events I particularly enjoy.