It's been a hectic couple of months with lots loads of teaching, rehearsals, a few gigs and a trip on the ferry across the North Sea. All of which has left little time to focus on writting for the new band but now with the Easter holidays upon us I hope to put this right!
The band is going well - we have a couple of tunes finished, a couple in development and last night I think I had a revelation on how to re-write one of them that has been bothering me for a while! The only thing we don't have yet is a name. Which leads me to this post. Why is it so hard to come up with a decent name for an originals instrumental jazz group that doesn't include my name? All though it's a tried and tested method (leaders name + number of people in the band) or if you're feeling really hip you could just use the initials of this result (JTQ) it's a bit 'hey I wonder what standards these cats are gona play' if you know what I mean. The other option is to go down the 'named after the first thing you see' route. Although this instantly offers up hundreds of ideas (unless you are sat in an empty room by yourself) it can also lead to many hours debating wether or not you can sell a band called 'bookcase' or put the name 'curtain rail' on a poster. This is probably why we musicians are best left writing the tunes and marketing people still have a job!
So unless inspiration hits me look out for some new tunes coming out under the name JTG or Draining Board?!!
So after a few months of hard thinking I have come to a decision. It is now time to hand over the baton of lead alto seat with The Strictly Smokin' Big Band and take on the challenges of the tenor chair.
I have learnt a lot over the last five years or so playing lead but have always felt that playing tenor is when I enjoy jazz the most and it's my horn of choice with any other projects I work on. Like anything that you do for a long period of time you can become complacent and coast through gigs without full engaging with the music which, I'm afraid to say, is how I've felt playing lead for the past year or so. Hopefully this switch will be like joining the band all over again and at the same time help me get my tenor playing up to scratch for an exciting new project I'm working on and hope to start gigging in the not to distant future!
The first rehearsal in my new seat is this thursday, so check back on friday to see if I made the right decision?!
So after 8 years or so of hard work I have decided to cut my trusty Yamaha 62 tenor's hours and send him part time. Joining the party is the beautiful P.Mauriat 66RXUL 'Influence'. I have previously never had a chance to play on these horns but have been following the buzz about them on various saxophone websites for a while, so taking the xmas down time I thought it time to get my hands on one. Wow - what can I say - everything just feels in exactly the right place when you need it and with its added weight gives it a solid and commanding sound. The nice added touch of solid metal key touches really make you feel like you're 'playing' the horn. I'm totally back to the enjoyment of playing sax at the moment, which is great because I have a new band to write tunes for and am taking a side step in my big band (from lead alto to tenor) so that I can really get to grips with this new sax.
It may just be the new romance of a new horn or it may be the real deal. I'll keep you posted and let you know if it's lasts!
If you haven't heard the name 'Snarky Puppy' in the last few months then it's time you caught up! They're the kind of band that both reaffirms your love for music and at the same time makes you question if there are enough hours left in your lifetime to get that good! Funk/Jazz/World whatever - it's all there and done to perfection. I think a video would better explain.........
I was lucky enough to catch their gig in Manchester last weekend and it blew my mind. The two hour set flew by and never dropped a beat. I can't put my finger on it but for me it just works?!
We were also treated to a set from 'MAZ'. Seen playing the trumpet in the video above he has taken the role of vocalist on some of his own tunes, backed of course by a variety of the Snarky Puppy crew. A definite new addition to the ipod - http://mazjazz.bandcamp.com/album/maz
As a saxophonist I've always thought it was strange that whenever I start to write a tune I head straight for the piano. I have tried in the past to stick to the horn and create a melody but it is normally the chords and groove that give me an idea where the song is heading. This is all well and good you might think but then when I do come to play the tune on the sax it can sometimes feel clunky to play or just doesn't sound right as a saxophone melody. Easy solution - transpose the key - but then this too can sound odd and believe it or not, not every song sounds good in every key.
I guess in my head I always imagined that all the great sax player/composers sat down with their horn, blasted out some amazingly melodic line and then filled the rest in around that, selecting the most suitable chords that go with whatever exotic scales/modes they have been practising for weeks on end. So when I stumbled across this interview with Joshua Redman (whilst trapped in an endless loop of youtube videos) it cheered me up to find out that some of the great front line players also have the same problem as me.
When I first set this website up I had to decide what elements to include that people might be interested in. I am primarily a musician so I didn't want to waste hours of time sat in front of a computer creating stuff that nobody would look at, instead I should be practising?! Anyway, scroll forward a year and I'm looking for new ways to update the site again so I thought I might start a blog. I'm not quite sure yet what I'll blog about or if anybody will be interested in my ramblings but I guess we'll find out soon enough!
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
After a hectic couple of weeks playing some cool shows and attending some funky gigs its back to normal (ish). I can also announce that The Northern Monkey Brass Band are confirmed for our debut at this years Green Festival June 3rd.
A great weekend at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival this weekend playing with the Strictly Smokin' Big Band. Our next public performance is our monthly residency at the Punch Bowl, Jesmond.http://pic.twitter.com/Fy9ZjKRo
Just a reminder that Jamie's next live show is with RJ Thompson for his EP Launch at the Cluny2 in Newcastle. It's looking like it's going to be a great show with some great musicians. For more info check out his website rjthompson.co.uk