12.7.16

Sports

Last night my daughter got me talking about my attitude to sports at school. I boiled it down to the fact that I enjoyed playing cricket but in the last two years of secondary school we could only pay football or rugby. I was always picked last for teams and felt humiliated by this (it is a stupid system) so decided to fight back.
Firstly I just did annoying things like passing the ball to the opposing team, then I started avoiding all contact. Once this left me the only non-muddy person on the pitch. The teacher insisted I take a shower like everyone else. I went home.
In my last year at school I avoided every single sports lesson and spent my time either in the library or the music room. I should have done that a lot earlier.
When I left school I was awarded a middling grade for basketball.

Today my daughter won two prizes for her school sports day. My son, the slowest, yet most determined person in a race, kept going even though someone else had won and the adults were wandering across the track. He won an award for good sportsmanship.

I have a lot to learn form my children.

[music related stuff coming soon]

6.7.16

Still here

I don't think I've ever left a gap this long on the blog. I'm still here, just ridiculously busy. Lots of self-indulgent articles coming soon.

18.5.16

Gig

After years of getting the band’s sound together and finding a line-up that worked, New Accelerator finally had its first gig last weekend.

It didn’t help that I contracted bronchitis but everything else fell into place with an almost frightening ease. We were the guests of Jim Spinner’s band and some sharing of musicians went on through the night. We got there keyboard guy, Rob, to play on one song and Jim himself to play guitar on another track. They got our fabulous guitarist Richard to solo on their cover of Purple Rain.

We played a set of originals, aside from one cover and the highlight for me was playing my Touch Guitar. I’ve noodled about on it in a loopy, bleeping and droning way for years but never played it as a full and instrument before. It was a hugely enjoyable experience and I have to credit Markus Reuter for his instruction and ideas. Mind you, there’s nothing like a gig to show you what you need to improve on. My technique and the gaps between songs would be top of the list there.


The reaction to our set was very positive and we’re all looking forward to the next gig. Whenever that is.

16.5.16

Security Project

I have an odd relationship with covers bands. I’ve been in a few and mostly enjoyed the response of an audience that are getting something familiar. However, a covers band that doesn’t either do something original with the songs, or play with feeling, is a lost cause.
So, imagine my surprise when one of the most original and interesting musicians on the planet joined a covers band. Trey Gunn, touch guitarist, ex-King Crimson, member of so many fascinating and genre defying bands that I love (KTU, for example) was the person in question. The band, Security Project, play the early solo music of Peter Gabriel. I listened to them and didn’t like it. The singer sounded so much like Gabriel that it felt, at first, like an impression.

But, having followed Trey’s work for so long and trusting his instinct I went back and listened with fresh ears. Then I got it. Brian Cummins, the singer, did sound like Gabriel but he also had his own style. The band, who are impeccable musicians, did something similar. Honouring the originals but bringing a freshness to the arrangements that allowed me to enjoy these versions and drive me back to Peter Gabriel’s for comparison. This whole experience was based on the two teaser tracks from Security Project’s Live 1 album. When the full album came out it stayed on heavy rotation.


Even if you have no connection with the original albums and don’t know a Warr Guitar from a tennis racquet, I’d recommend a listen.

10.4.16

The Good News

It’s been a great year for music already. Nik Bartsch’s Mobile, Esperanza Spalding and Avishai Cohen have all made amazing albums which stretch genre labels and show that the only way to make great art is to acknowledge the past but not copy it.


And there’s more great stuff coming. Tuner’s FACE can’t be far off and a trio album with Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison is arriving in May.

It’s good to be 52 and seriously excited about album releases.

8.4.16

The Bad News

My mum’s dementia has taken another turn for the worse. After she spent a short period in respite care so I could recover from the pneumonia, she’s home but not really sure where ‘home is. She knows she is in her house but doesn’t completely recognise it. Sometimes she asks if she can sleep in her bed, as if it’s not hers. Sometimes she talks about going home to her family home where she (mostly) grew up. Sometimes she acts as if her house is mine.

Yesterday she forgot I had got married and, on finding out I was, became deeply upset that she hadn’t come to the ceremony. She had come, of course, but it took hours to convince her that she hadn’t let me down.


It’s beginning to feel like my mum is being slowly and inexorably erased in front of my eyes.

18.3.16

Continuum

I've been a huge fan of Nik Bärtsch and his band Ronin since Sid Smith put me on to them years ago. I came in a bit late, with their last studio album but quickly worked through the whole discography and caught a live show in London that became a 'top five gig' instantly. I loved the space and the funkiness. The music surprises and the bigger than the sum of its parts nature of the band.

What I never did, for some strange reason, was listen to his other, acoustic, band, Mobile. Actually there was avery good reason. There was no bass player and an important part of my love of Ronin's music was how the bass worked within it. I'm a bassist. What can you expect but bigoted rejection of what looked like an otherwise great band.

But... Mobile (still without a bass player but with occasional strings) have a new album, Continuum, out. It's on ECM and it's astonishing.

I have just listen through once and, though it's obviously too soon to pin my feelings down, I'm reaching for words like: mysterious, funky, beguiling, surprising, cinematic, lush, eerie and pretty much perfect.

If you like Nik's music. Buy it. If you have open ears. Buy it. If you're not sure, buy it. I am now going to listen again.