I've been nominated for a BBC Jazz Award! It's for the Innovation category, and it's a great honour to be selected for it, especially since the list itself has other good people [Fraud, Evan Parker and the Basquiat Strings]. Voting has closed, now so it's just waiting. Many thanks if you voted AT ALL, and extra thanks if you voted for me!
Well it's been a bit of a hurtle through the months hasn't it? It's quite sunny now, as spring tries to settle down and gently turn to summer. I had a good run of things to do in April, like a fab gig in Oxford with Orphy—and a chance to see Fraud, a band I've been meaning to catch for a while. James Allsopp and I sat in on the Heliocentrics for their first BBC session, and he ended up doing the tour, so it was good to find out how that went and generally catch up.
The space was a Wesleyian church [it has be said that the way it was laid out didn't look like one though, so I'm not sure of the date of it] and had a good acoustic. Fraud were really good live, with James tearing it up on tenor. Our set was a great contrast to theirs and complemented it well, Orphy opting not to bring the soprano and trumpet and instead focussing on our percussion. A good night for all who came—including one of the Mailing List recipients [although I really ought to get moving on writing another one]! I think the gig was recorded too, so with any luck there'll be something for you to listen to...
I was back in Oxford on St George's Day to visit a day centre and a school. I used to do work like this in Derby when I was starting out, so it was a joy to be tested on things like "Do you know any Jim Reeves?" [I did] and "What was the first song you ever played?" [Funny Face by the Gershwins] but almost bottled when asked to sing, having to go for if you're happy and you know it [and of course, everyone joined in]. For the first few minutes I thought I was dying in front of my audience, but by the end they showed much warmth and appreciation.
Then there was the return to the old school. I hadven't been back to Repton since I left: I developed a keen aversion to the place while I was there. But the art teacher Jeremy Bournon is a jazz fan, and a chance happening over Christmas in HMV turned into the only way I was possibly going to be heading back there. It was a solo set, where I spoke to B Block [that's secondary Year 3 or 9, depending on how old you are] about vibraphones, xylophones, improvising, live looping and responding to external sources. They listened carefully and attentively for a good hour or so, having not heard anything like that before: and comments back showed that it was a good experience for them. If only the money was there to get more musicians out to more schools, eh?