Entries for Jun 2012
Just heard from Bearwood Jazz that Andy Hamilton passed away yesterday.
I first met Andy Hamilton when I used to do the door for Alan Cross at the Bear, whilst I was at university. Years later, I attended the jams at the Drum, and actually played with the group on a good number of occasions.
The surreal thing is that—foolishly—I always felt that he'd basically keep going, and had no real concept of his passing—the last time I heard him [by which point Sam Brown had passed away] he was playing better and stronger than ever, and that whole band [John Hoo, Mr Evans et al.]—were really supportive and encouraging of the whole Birmingham scene. A foundation of British jazz has been lost.
For me, one of the interesting things about working with people that write/play very sophisticated music is hearing the linkages and connections that new music has with older 20th Century music. I'm thinking about my experiences with people like Robert Mitchell, Alex Hawkins, Nick Malcolm, et al., who use a language that's thoroughly informed by music of the last two hundred years or so.
Immersing oneself into that sound world—checking out the whole spectrum of jazz, Webern, Ravel, Bartok, Stravinsky, Ligeti, Arnold, Weir, and so on—is as an essential part of knowing how to play these songs as it is to be able to read them [which, in my case, is not all that essential at all since I cannot read music notation].
I think I'm thinking about this because I'm going to take the time out today to practise reading music. It's something I've struggled with... well, for ever. The thing is, my ears are quite good, so I've always relied on my ears to deal with what's coming. But that really won't last: the music of now is getting harder to anticipate—sometimes, the only way to GET something is to read it. So here we are.
On with life, and living. Still pursuing reading music practice; and a small bit of composing. A reflective day.
I think the effects of loss in a small community [for that is how I see it] are so clearly articulated in the jazz/improv. scene I'm in. We're all connected; sometimes very loosely if at all [I only met Tony Marsh once, I think], other times stronger [as in the case with Andy Hamilton]. It's not like they're blood-linked family, but there's a real sense of loss.
Just read some sad news about the trumpeter Abram Wilson passing away either early this morning or last night. I don't know the circumstances. I wasn't a fan of what he did—and in fact, we didn't necessarily get on when we first met—but he was really doing things in terms of spreading the music he loved out there. I know there are people out there inspired by the work he did in education: and that's no bad thing. He'll be sorely missed.
Seems like everyone's going.
Got some tunes of pianist Adam Fairhall's to work through—trio rehearsal next week, with Rob Turner on drums.
Adam's tunes are lovely—fragments and snippets of melody, riffs. The first rehearsal was a blast! Lots of space to move...
The meeting's tomorrow. Here's the blurb:
Experts with significant experience of the cultural sector and organisational development have been appointed to consult with and support arts and culture organisations in Derby to explore a number of key aims such as:
- Articulating a vision for future sustainability for the arts sector in Derby
- Explore future models of working together in the city and identify the potential opportunities
- Ensure a quality arts offer for the people of Derby
I would like to invite you to a meeting with Graham Devlin to take part in the consultation process for the Cultural Vision for Derby; the purpose of the meeting is for attendees to be consulted on their thoughts for the future vision of Derby.
Now, I am definitely going to this. I'm pretty certain I know who else has been invited. But if you were not and have a stake in the arts in Derby, please let me know what you think. I haven't been on top of e-mails, so sorry for the short notice.
This morning: looking at the musify editor again—and if you're a musician and haven't seen it, please give it a go!—and doing some more work on the Derby Jazz commission, which if you were on my mailing list, you'd know a bit about!
I'm also doing some more back-end work on the site so I can share quicker and more efficiently to Facebook and Twitter [and thus not have to visit them as often]. Strangely, doing the hook-up to Facebook has been simple: there's still a lot I don't know about JSON object parsing for Twitter...
The idea behind all the coding is that I [once again] start to rein in the number of sites I post to; and feel less fragmented. Some of this has come from the fact that I write FAR TOO MANY WORDS for Twitter; whilst for Facebook, I hardly update that at all, except for gigs. When I have conversations on Facebook, it's normally with one or two people and they tend to be short—I have better conversations on Twitter [possibly because the word limit is closer tied to a conversational format]. But honestly, I'm not really a fan of Twitter because of the way the specifics of using it diminish meaning and context within a conversation. Although I may not get many comments on my site, I still feel that I'm better able to get my point across and have the flexibility to do so in statements of varying length.
I had very little idea that the Rambles section of the site had got so big—but it has; so it now has a search function. Didn't take long to do.
Just received some very saddening news about the fantastic singer/songwriter and good friend Lorraine Ayensu, who died on Friday after a long battle with cancer.
Lorraine's optimism and love of music and people was infectious and inspiring; we met at the Freeness launch and remained good friends since. Timing, distance etc. meant we didn't meet frequently; but her passing is weighing heavy on me. She'll be deeply missed.
Had a great time in Liverpool and the Parrjazz Session: some fantastic playing, particularly from a young guitarist named Alex... one to check! But I came back exhausted. Still, made it out to the private view of artist Sarah Key, whose work really drew me in.
Today has been a day of laptop system maintenance: an ill-judged update of Arch Linux totally hashed up everything on Wednesday, and so I spent a fair amount of time finding and solving the problem. But all is well now; and a new update of Musescore is getting a road-test.
I've signed to a NEW RECORD LABEL! It's one of the fastest growing labels in the world and has a huge range of music. If you'd also like to get signed, head to Any And All Records—a revolution in music!
It's Andy Hamilton's funeral today. There's a celebration of his life later today at Birmingham Town Hall.
Feel funny about funerals and wakes—always have. Was planning on going, but slight feelings of dread. Saddened.
Summer reading time! Going light at the moment—nothing too long, and some re-reads. I'm about to spend some time with the following books:
- The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
- The Hundred–Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
- The Vinland Sagas translated by Magnus Magnusson
- Elementary Training by Paul Hindemith [re-read]
- The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch [re-read]
How about you?
I'm running out of free downloads for the podcasts [and I really must think of a different name for them] if you download and pay one sovereign pound or more, there's a little bonus track... Hope you like!
I've updated the links page, weeding some dead links: and given my other projects their own category called my other things. As long as I don't stretch myself too thin, there will only be five things in it. But you never know... but this note is for those who are looking for cognizance or One Note Sunday.
I've... um... created a petition.
Please have a read of it, and—if you agree with it—sign it.
I feel I should point out that although it's very unlikely that I will be asked to play, it's the principle of an organisation planning a multi-million pound cultural event and NOT factoring in the arts on the expenditure sheet. Mind-boggling.
Three days ago it was at zero—but now it's at about 450 signatures. Please read it and sign if you agree—many thanks to those supporting it thus far!