Good evening! Welcome to my web site, where you can find out about my music, and listen to some of it, as well as my various other ventures over the years.
19 October 2023
Oh dear - it’s been six months since I wrote anything here! For most of that time not a lot happened, apart from steady preparations for the recording of Perfect Stranger’s debut album at AIR Studios, no less, on 9 and 10 October 2023. One aspect of the preparations was the creation of a ‘shadow band’ of deps in case anyone had to drop out of the sessions at short notice. Mercifully, no-one did and the two days of sessions went brilliantly, but we now have a full set of deps for the future. But you can catch up on the gory details here.
Previously on Latest News... (April 2023)
Perfect Stranger finally has its own web site! I made the decision to abandon my old habits of hand-coding sites such as the one you’re looking at now, and use an online site builder. I chose Bandzoogle, which is aimed at, yes, bands, and I have to say I have no regrets whatsoever. It all felt a bit awkward and restrictive at first, but that was just the unfamiliar working environment. Once I got the hang of it I found I could do most things, bending it to my will as needed. Above all, their support team is superb - so helpful and friendly without being patronising. Highly recommended.
Perfect Stranger played its sixth gig in February, a hastily arranged addition to the monthly Jazz In The Round series at The Cockpit in Marylebone, London. The show was opened for us by a wonderful short solo sax set from the great Chris Biscoe, one of the original members of Perfect Stranger. We played to an audience over twice the size of any previous ones, and they were most appreciative. Before that, at Trevor Taylor’s kind invitation, we returned to Southend on 11 February, to play our fifth gig at the Jazz Centre UK. This followed on from Karamel in March 2022, Colchester Arts Centre in July, Southend’s Jazz 825 series in October and our EFG London Jazz Festival debut in November back at Karamel, who must have thought we were OK the first time.
I’ll keep the Perfect Stranger page here for the time being, where there’s just a little more historical detail than on the band’s new About page, but I may not be updating it quite as consistently as the new site!
There are Perfect Stranger videos up and published on YouTube and Facebook. The first lot are four short films: one is a ‘taster’ with just extracts of the band playing, and the other three make up a mini-documentary including some of me talking about the project. Since then we’ve added some from that EFG London Jazz Festival gig. Full details and links here.
The band now consists of these excellent people: Adam Bishop and Mick Foster (saxes, clarinets, flutes), Shanti Jayasinha (trumpet and flugelhorn), Tom Green (trombone), Alcyona Mick (keyboards), Rob Millett (vibes and percussion), Eddy White (guitar), Paul Michael (bass guitar), Jonas Golland (drums) — along with various deps who have done sterling work for us at gigs — with me conducting (mostly, with the odd bit of fretless bass) — and they’re fantastic! There’s still the challenge of finding times when suitable combinations of these good people are available to rehearse, but I’m less concerned about that as we’re actively seeking further gigs and try to rehearse as close as possible to each one. We’re now pretty comfortable with the music, so plans are afoot to make an album titled Unfinished Business, because that’s exactly what it is. Watch this space! Or more appropriately, this space!
We played two gigs in June: Intox Extravaganza’s summer all-dayer at AMP Studios in New Cross, and at the Birds Nest. We’ve since been back to Biddle Bros., and the next gig on the slate is at the Brunswick in Hove.
The ‘live’ videos of four of our songs have been well received and appreciated. These were not in front of an audience, hence my scare-quotes, but we did play and record in real time — it was all done in our sometime drummer Jonas Golland’s bedroom! It was good fun, if a little tricky to negotiate the stands for three mics, three cameras and three lights in a very confined space — but we managed. They’re all on YouTube: Therapy Session, The Magic Tellingbone, Happy Family and Evening Call.
We seem to be pretty much settled on the splendid Arnold Lane as our drummer these days — it’s good to have this stability, and he’s a great player.
- I was delighted to report that, having first discovered that the recording of my Concerto for Trumpet and Brass Band (Richard Marshall, Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Elgar Howarth) was still available after all, then found it no longer was... now it is again... or it was... Amazon says, ‘Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.’ Bugger it!
- I added a couple of little solo guitar pieces to the site. One is a rediscovered ditty called Face. The other, perhaps my oddest piece, is Lullaby.
- What I now regard as my definitive Trumpet Concerto (originally for trumpet and brass band) is complete and here for you to read about and enjoy. As a slightly unusual feature, I treated myself to a bass guitar and drumkit in the orchestra. I’ve had some favourable comments about it, especially about the slow movement, which is a sort of lament for Duke Ellington.
- Someone downloaded my ancient After Dark modules! (click on ‘Antediluvian Screen Savers’) I emailed him to ask if he'd send me a couple of screeen videos of them in action — or at least static screenshots — but have had no answer so far.
- My new(ish) MIDI recording of Cog-Dance is now complete and live on the usual platforms. I’ve updated the blurb on the page for good measure.
- My MIDI mix of Double Entendre, using the much better brass and piano sounds now at my disposal, is done. Although these sounds are far superior to those I used before, I had to make a few compromises due to the lack of some of the proper brass band instruments, mainly the horns in the middle (tenor, baritone, euphonium), but it seems to have worked out well — it’s certainly a vast improvement on the previous recording, so I’ve added it to YouTube and SoundCloud. Full technical details are available on the Double Entendre page.
- I’ve revisited 60 Minims and made a new realisation of it (the original audio being lost).
- The final movement (but first to be composed) of my new chamber orchestra work Hall of Mirrors is now complete, along with my usual MIDI recording.
- I redid my page on The Europeans, complete with some of the music (by no means all of the pieces) for your listening and dining pleasure. Apart from Psychoyogi it was my main musical activity for a while, until I got back down to Hall of Mirrors (see above).
- There’s a new(ish) page on the site, for the benefit of composers struggling to keep track of their harp pedal settings. Very niche, I know, but it could well be handy for some folks. And yes, I’m well aware that it doesn’t work too well on various types of touch-screen and mobile device, but I’m afraid I can’t dedicate the rest of my life to catering for whatever kind of hybrid device the industry thinks up next! I found this page immensely useful while working on the harp part of Hall of Mirrors.
- Original The Bebop Variations for brass trio recorded with MIDI — listen here.
- New scores of the original Trumpet Concerto and — possibly my strangest work — in heaven... to replace old handwritten versions. PDF extracts available to download.
- Original 1974 recording of Formative Years now available for listening to here, on YouTube and on SoundCloud. Real human musicians! Some of them now jazz luminaries.
Apart from all that, naturally, this web site: explore my works, find out about Perfect Stranger, read my biography, keep track of your harp pedal settings, and see what’s on the various other pages. You can also get in touch with me via the Contact form. And for those with a taste for historical technical curiosities, there’s even a page about my NotaFile document — and the document itself.
As well as listening to my MIDI recordings on this site, you can visit my channels on YouTube and SoundCloud to hear the same MIDI realizations of a number of my works, and see the same YouTube videos as you can see here, to get a glimpse of the scores (in most cases). These pieces are available:
- Concerto for trumpet and orchestra
- Face for solo guitar
- Cog-Dance for divided orchestra
- Hall of Mirrors V
- Double entendre for piano and stereophonic brass band
- The Bossa Nova Variations
- Return of the Son of the Bebop Variations
- Variations on a Theme of George Harrison
- Music for an Imaginary Ballet
- Formative Years (from Life & Times) — this one with Real Live Musicians!
- Five Pieces for Saxophone Quartet
- ...and a little musical joke called Porterstraum
Also on the Listen page is my standard disclaimer about MIDI recordings, and a note about browser compatibility with the players for YouTube, SoundCloud and plain MP3s embedded in these pages.
And in case anyone’s wondering, what I’m actually looking at in that photo is not the score of Return of the Son of the Bebop Variations, but a large owl perched on my wrist.