Just a reminder that we’ll be featured on BBC Jazz on 3 TOMORROW (Monday 27th) from 11pm – there’ll be tracks recorded live at our RNCM gig a couple of weeks ago as well as a quick delve into my iPod shuffle with Jez Nelson… Anything could come up, you’ll have to tune in to find out what did! If you miss the live broadcast it’ll be available on the iPlayer for 7 days.
There will also be a couple of tracks from Big Ideas played on Helen Mayhew‘s Jazz FM show later this afternoon from 1pm along with a short chat with me about the band and the new album – again this will be available on demand via the link above should you miss the live broadcast.
Finally we were all really pleased to read some really amazing reviews of the Big Ideas launch show at Ronnie Scott’s earlier in the week – thanks once again to everyone for selling out the place and making it such a special night! Check out the Serious blog for a full roundup of everything. Below is a picture of Nick who was already pretty excited about the evening’s gig even before our soundcheck! (picture taken by Owen Bryce)
I know its been a couple of weeks since the gig so this is a massively delayed post (I’ve been moving house, its been a nightmare…) but still wanted to write something because it was such a great night! We had loads of fun playing, the Kairos 4tet were awesome too, and everyone we met was lovely – except the trigger happy Soho traffic wardens, but thats another story…
Picture above by Sam Healey
There were a few really nice reviews that I thought I’d share too – I’ve taken out some quotes below and there’s a link to the full article as well:
Beats & Pieces reminded us that jazz can be pleasingly vulgar… few bands play work of this complexity with such passionate conviction. Movers and shakers such as [Colin] Towns, Matthew Herbert, Darcy James Argue and [Ben] Cottrell demonstrate that large ensembles remain a vital force in contemporary jazz.
John L Walters, The Guardian
Beats & Pieces dazzled with a glorious, full-bloodied set demonstrating all that’s good about big band jazz. The big band tradition is alive and well and living in Manchester.
Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise
Anton Hunter’s overdrive-guitar gave the rhythm section grunge and the soloists, notably altoist Sam Healey, trumpeter Nick Walters and adventurous pianist Patrick Hurley, brimmed with the fearlessness of youth
Jack Massarik, London Evening Standard
Thanks again to everyone at Ronnie’s for having us and to everyone in the audience (many travelling a fair few miles!) for being amazing… If you missed out this time, we’re back in town in November at Kings Place during the London Jazz Festival, tickets available NOW! See you then…
We’re really pleased to have been nominated for the 2011 London Jazz Award as one of the outstanding gigs in the capital over the past year! There’s some stiff competition in the shortlist – Gwilym Simcock, Soweto Kinch, Jason Yarde & Peter King to name but four – so we need your help…
The next stage of the shortlisting process ranks audience appreciation by looking at facebook and twitter ‘likes’, and they’ll be looking at the Guardian review by John Fordham of our gig at Ronnie Scott’s in January for this. So we need YOU – please go to the review here, click on the facebook ‘share’ button and the tweet button, and then go about the rest your day in the knowledge that you’ve done us a massive favour and enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with that!
Also if reading the review of our January gig at Ronnie’s makes you want to see us there again in the near future, you’re very much in luck – we’re back there on 3rd August in a double bill with the amazing Kairos 4tet during Ronnie’s Brit Jazz Fest. See you there!
Thanks so much to everybody who was at Ronnie Scott’s on Wednesday, we had a great time and can only hope that you enjoyed the set as much as we did! There’s some photos below and a copy of a review from today’s Times – you can also find it online here (behind the paywall though…)
UPDATE 2: So was The Guardian’s John Fordham – his review is online here or see below…
There’s an interesting piece on the Guardian website today by renowned American classical music critic Alex Ross – I’ve had his highly recommended book, The Rest is Noise, for ages and tried to get into reading it a few times but always got distracted, should really get back on it… In this article, he’s talking about the etiquette for applause and audience response in the classical concert hall, and it got me thinking about the similarities and differences between classical and jazz audiences.
Ross briefly mentions jazz audiences in his article (“in jazz clubs… people applaud after each solo, as well as at the end of each number”), which obviously simplifies things a lot but I suppose is safe enough to be taken as a general rule. Sometimes, however, clapping by default after a solo is totally inappropriate. I was at a gig recently by a trio that was almost contemporary classical rather than jazz – even though the trio were world class musicians in their own right there was unfortunately not many in the audience (those that were there weren’t even there specifically for the gig as the concert was one small part of a larger event), the music was pretty quiet throughout, and the whole affair was quite intimate. After every single solo though, no matter what the wider musical context, the person next to me (not with me! Just happened to be sat next to me) decided to clap as loud and as forcefully as possible in order to rally the rest of the audience into joining them. As I say the gig was really intimate, the solos were thoughtful, melodic and reflective rather than animated, loud and technical, and having all the musician’s hard work in building up an atmosphere rudely cancelled out by this person’s instant rapturous applause really started to piss me off – I think the musicians were also not impressed as they seemed to be a bit awkward in acknowledging the rather muted, sheep-like applause…
The point of Ross’ article was that people should be allowed to respond to music whenever and however they feel most appropriate rather than having to follow in some sort of etiquette. In the same way that refraining from applause after a massive final cadence in the first movement of a Beethoven symphony feels strange, for example, surely being made to feel duty-bound to applaud after the quietest and most reflective improvised solo in a jazz gig is also inappropriate? Ross quotes the pianist Emanuel Ax, who I think sums it up perfectly – “I think that if there were no ‘rules’ about when to applaud, we in the audience would have the right response almost always.”
Take a look at this article from today’s Guardian – basically some guy in the audience at a jazz festival in Spain called the police to complain that a gig by a saxophone player called Larry Ochs wasn’t jazzy enough… And the police agreed! Check out the band’s music below.
This got me thinking about how difficult it is to classify contemporary music nowadays, as musicians bring together influences that are so wide ranging – from classical to rock to world and everything in between. I remember reading articles about the Portico Quartet recently, for example, where the authors and even the quartet themselves were bemoaning the fact that their records were classified as either ‘jazz’ or ‘world’ whereas in reality its somewhere in between.
When I’ve been promoting the Beats & Pieces Big Band, I sometimes find it difficult to describe exactly what the music is – I’d say its definitely jazz (but even then, what is jazz?! A whole other can of worms…) but in places its also rock, electronica, minimalist classical etc etc… And I also play many free improv gigs, at the Noise Upstairs or with Token Otter for instance; how would that music be classified?
To be honest I’m not really sure what the point I’m trying to make is, so I’m not too sure what I’m trying to say – just thought it was an amusing article that also raises lots of questions. So go on, discuss!
(Also for the record, I’d disagree with the Spanish Police and say Larry Ochs’ music was close enough to jazz. Kinda reminds me of Tom Arthurs’ Centripede group, based on this clip at least…)
UPDATE: I read this post by Kit Downes where he talks about the word ‘jazz’ as being a creative process rather than an end product… Kinda answers some of the questions I was posing above, and its a great read in itself.