I'm currently trying to rest up after lugging the vibes up and down the country on a flimsy trolley. One of the things I forgot to tell you—quite possibly from a month-and-a-half ago—is that when I was heading to the Barbican to do a gig with Arun, my trolley broke after stepping out of Moorgate station.
The vibraphone was fine—very sturdy!—but I ended up having to find a hardware store near the Barbican at near on half-past five [and as luck would have it there was one!] and bought an over-priced [but let's face it—I bought it in London], flimsy thing that will have to do until I buy the trolley of my dreams. It's become twisted under the weight that the bloke in the shop said it would easily carry, and I suspect it will die very soon after tomorrow. So let me write its obituary now.
Recently, the trolley [a Draper] carted me to Liverpool, which I have visited a few times but not over the last four years; and having a gig there enabled me to visit an old friend the day before. There's always interesting things happening in the city and I had always loved the architecture of the place and its independent spirit: however it currently seems to be owned almost entirely by Tesco [really. It's like Liverpool's caught some kind of Tesco virus].
Luckily the Bold Street area still retains its character with the fantastic News From Nowhere, one of my favourite bookshops in the country, as well as the vast array of gift and clothing shops. A disappointing trip to the Slavery Museum [I was told that it had been changed a lot since last time. I found it far too small: too much art and technology and not enough information or connection to Liverpool's history. It just wasn't very coherent] was balanced out by a lovely excursion in the Bluecoat and a stroll around the Tate. And Sefton Park is gorgeous—one of those sumptuous rambling English parks with small spaces and large open fields.
In that short list of great spaces of Liverpool, I'm adding the Parr Street Studios. I was told its history—but I've slept since then. I can remember that it was a recording studio, and the owners were really creative in not fighting against the layout of the space, but working with it; the old control booth is the bar and the studio space is the area where you play, thus suiting those who just want to drink and those who want to listen. Genius.
And the playing itself: alto sax player and flautist [and what a flautist! Great floating tone, and superb facility on the instrument] Geni Lamb, who set up the nights, is doing a great job of supporting Liverpool's obvious musical talent. She and the excellent house group [Tony Ormesher—who has that Jim Hall thing I love so much but just don't really hear from many people—on guitar, John McCormick on bass and Danny Ward on drums] are really on it and sound great as a band. After hearing them, I wrote a short song for them and they ate it up! Here's the song, entitled Aigburth:
e, a b;
e, a b;
e, f a b c:
e, a b;
e, a b;
e, f a b c:
What was great was that the band were totally open and really worked through the song. We created some fantastic textures and the audience seemed to like it!
After the gig there's a jam session. This was chock-full of talented people [Jeff Lewis on trombone, vocalists Carl, and David Knopov, and LOTS of other people], with a special mention for a young bassist that people need to watch out for, Aaron Schofield. He had me gassed out on Cherokee [on which it has to be said, I also had a Senior Moment—these things happen]! It was his first go on a double bass and he sounded like he was born with it!
A long, enjoyable conversation to the small hours and a sympathetic bar staff made this a good night for both audience and participant. I'm hoping to be back...
And because that was so long, I'm going to talk about what I got up to yesterday in a separate post... probably on Saturday. As a abstract:
Alexander Hawkins Ensemble—OMG!