Y'know, I'm actually puzzling over what to call this one. The only constant theme is gigs, but that's a BORING title. So the above is what we're going with. Anyway, the last four weeks were quite significant for me: a few personal changes, and directing myself to a state of calm; the two gigs marked off a nine-year cycle; and I tried doing new things that worked, which is always good.
So, the gigs. The first was with Robert Mitchell's group Panacea again, this time with Barak Schmool on soprano saxophone mainly, and Tom Mason on bass [Robin Mullarkey played last time]. It marked to the day first time I played with Robert, on the day J-Life officially started. I arrived early, as per: the traffic around London holding the others. The Rainbow in Birmingham looked like one of those Victorian pubs that the second city used to have all over the place until they left them to rot and build new, clone-like things [although there is one near the Drum which is lovely and served nice Thai food the last time I went there]. It had a really warm, friendly atmosphere.
Because of some kind of inspection we weren't to be playing outside [which was news to me anyway] but inside, in the small place. The sound man asked if I wanted to go on the stage. I glazed over. This set the tone for the sound for the rest of the night.
It was great to see Tony Dudley–Evans again, who I knew from when I ran Birmingham University Jazz Society [long nights drinking coffee, crashing on mates' floors after seeing gigs then going to a lecture on group theory or the fate of excited states the next day... ah, how I miss it]. He's always been really supportive and as I set up and waited we chatted about old and new times.
Robert and the others arrived later; the journey had been long and hot. They set up. The sound man started talking to them. They glazed over [I did warn you]. Despite the sound and the heat, we still did a good set—I was there as a "special guest" again, but I did more songs this time, including a lovely slow ballad by Robert called Quantum. The audience were well into it and maybe there will be more...
After that it was a week of preparing the lap-top for the gig with the great Orphy Robinson. I first met Orphy nine years ago too, in that week. I trotted down with the dulcimer on the Thursday, and hung out for the evening, then we went to the gig the next day.
Getting into the Whitechapel was a pain—but the space was really nice. Didn't actually get to look around the gallery itself though... Because of constantly changing start times, I got a bit restless—no one ever blames the venue if a gig starts late—but we started, and it was fab. We've got a really good working relationship—in a sense it's an easy gig to do as I feel really supported musically and there's always great communication; I'm glad I chose not to do it on my own. The place was packed out; Janelle [from the Symbiosis Ensemble] had a brought a posse down, with Deborah Jordan and Cleveland Watkiss also coming down to support. I took five CDs of the electroacoustic stuff I've done, and I sold two! As I've never tried selling anything at a gig before I was really pleased.
A few days later, Orphy and I sat and recorded some stuff; and for the first time I used the lap-top to generate sounds and loop bits of sound. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it worked! So I think I might be trying to incorporate that in future...