I have no idea where this year is going but it's nearly time for the Gateshead International Jazz Festival again. This year I have the privilege of playing two sets at the festival. On the friday (15th) I will be playing a 10pm set with The Strictly Smokin' Big Band and on the Saturday afternoon with the Northern Monkey Brass Band. We can now announce that this set will be recorded for the new BBC Radio 3 Jazz show. Hope to see some of you there for another great festival!
As is the case with bands that are full of busy musicians it is a nightmare to organise being in the same room at the same time! Fortunately none of us had anything better to do on sunday between 7pm and 1.30am so we managed to get a rehearsal together for our upcoming gig at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival next weekend. Fate was on our side as our studio of choice was available so we managed to record or session and will hopefully be giving you a taster of what to expect from this new band over the next week or so.
It is with great pleasure I can inform you that the 'Northern Monkey Brass Band' have been asked to open next years GIJF at The Sage Gateshead. I know it's a way off yet and you're busy thinking about what to buy granny for Christmas but pencil in 18.30 Friday 4th April 2014.
Sunday 20th October saw the latest monthly residency of the Strictly Smokin' Big Band at Newcastle's premier Funk, Soul and Jazz venue Hoochie Coochie.
Yet again we had a packed audience in for a late afternoon pint and to enjoy some free live entertainment. This month we decided to up our game and after the two sets from the big band we had a small band jam session, which was great fun! It made me wonder what it must have been like for the working big bands of yesteryear where residencies were common place at hotels, bars and nightclubs across the land. It really is a shame those days are gone. There is always a fear amongst jazz musicians, promoters and venue owners that audiences thirst for quality live music is dying out, but when you play regular gigs like these it's hard to accept that that is true. Is not that the market is undersaturated with cheap quality live gigs rather than too many musicians looking to earn a living? Isn't it rather that the general public these days just aren't exposed to enough live music to fully appreciate it? Then when a quality act does come around the high door prices drive away all but the hardcore followers of that artist. Whilst I'm not suggesting that as musicians we take every gig for free as I know this is our profession and we have studied long and hard to achieve what we have today but how about every so often we do a gig for beer money just for the sake of doing what we love - making music with others and entertaining a crowd.
After many years being intrigued by the strange device that is the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) I finally have one in my possession. After a week of playing it, I think I'm starting to get the hang of the slightly different finger technique, nine octaves and the mindset required to make it sound half decent! I think it might be a while longer before I feel ready to subject anyone to hearing me play it but until then here is someone that can!
Michael Brecker - In A Sentimental Mood EWI
Don't forget that tomorrow is gig night for The Strictly Smokin' Big Band. Continuing their residency @The Punchbowl, Jesmond 7-9pm. This month even offers you a 3 course meal deal from Santana's CLICK HERE