Sorry, you’ve um you’re cutting out. I can’t hear you very well yeah. You were teaching. You helped me before um. That was the intention, but actually no uh.
I didn’t have a lesson in the end, so i’ve been uh. I’Ve just been working on promotion, really fun stuff trying to uh. Well, i’ve missed the deadline today, but i’m putting out a mailing list. You know i’ve got a mailing list, i’m putting out a the 2020 update 2021 update yeah, getting it together. Um yeah, you wrote me uh, i remember now you know what you’re talking about like here, where for a newsletter right, yes, yeah right, so just working on that you know looking back at 2021, putting together all my thoughts for the new year, you know um, so Yeah, that’s what i’ve been doing today or drinking or what’s in for the new year um, i’m sorry, i’m starting you’re cutting out a little bit.
I don’t know why, but well, there’s quite a distance between the two of us but uh. Let’S, let’s hope this sticks with us, you know i was. I was saying like what did you like some people? They tried to do things better next year and uh. I always choke that i will start smoking and start drinking um.
I don’t know i i think i completely forgot about new year’s resolutions. I guess because i didn’t really have a party or anything any celebration of the new year. Um, i’m just uh carrying on as always really just um yeah i’ve got. I’Ve got big intentions for things. I you know projects that i plan to do.
I guess so. That’S um! So that’s a good thing. Yeah just watched your uh one-man one-man orchestra before oh yeah, wonderful yeah, you actually own that base accent problem. Yes, no.
I have everything you can. If i go out the picture you can see uh can you get in the picture? You can see my collection of instruments there. Well, not the whole, but just all the i’ve got the the soprano alto c melody: tenor, baritone and bass. Sax phones and e flat b, flat um and g clarinets and a bass clarinet.
So we’ve got quite a big collection of instruments and um, and the thing that you saw was the uh yeah. It was a little thing i did for my mother’s 70th birthday um. Just you know: it’s been before this lockdown happened. I had this big intention of um making some one-man recordings, because i have a full orchestra available to me. You know um and yeah.
I’Ve been working on some original music in this. In this vein, the last year um nothing’s finished yet, but i’m um yeah, that’s quite an exciting thing, having time to to sort of figure out what my sound is um of my own music, i’ve been doing lots of improvisation, uh recordings and then turning these piano. Improvisations into uh, multi-tracked orchestras, you know um kind of inspired by those old saxophone orchestras from the 1920s like the six brown brothers – and you know i sometimes think of moon dogs, orchestras that he had. You know you’ve heard of moon dog right. No, the uh, the um american composer, who wrote um.
He wrote some pieces for saxophone orchestra anyway, you know so so thinking about that sound. But i’m aware that we’re here to talk about clarinets, not uh, not saxophones, absolutely right, absolutely right so which instrument uh! You started with of that whole bunch of i started the i started on a clarinet at the age of seven um, a plastic clarinet, a c clarinet. You know these clarinets are made entirely out of plastic um and i was playing that i don’t know when i switched. You know to b flat, but that was the beginning and then, when i was nine, i started the piano when i was 12.
I started saxophone and it was when i was 12 that i started learning jazz and when i was 13 i decided i’m going to be a jazz musician for life. I decided this was my thing um and really i for a long time. I thought the saxophone was the jazz instrument and the clarinet was the classical instrument. I did uh classical clarinet at school. You know i did all the grades i played in the county, youth orchestra, um and i played saxophone.
I i did it for um. You know this saxophone, i played just jazz on it. You know um, and i went to music college to study in london at the guildhall for four years and it wasn’t until the third year of music college that we started looking at some 1920s jazz. And it was at this point that i got very excited about. The clarinet again and started practicing um practicing.
Well, i had you know i had to bring the clarinet up to the point of the saxophone playing and then i guess at some point: well, the clarinet’s more demanding than the saxophone. So it’s always been the one. Since, then that. I’Ve practiced a lot more um so you played strictly classical music until that. Point, on!
The clarinet i guess so i. Actually i. Remember struggling when i picked it. Up again to you know um yeah it, wasn’t a prime, instrument of mine! I i i guess um yeah, it’s just.
I got very obsessed with sydney bechet for a while, so and at the time at music college. I i had just clarinet alto saxophone and baritone saxophone, so um yeah – i i guess i don’t know how that’s connected but yeah i started playing jazz. You know i started working on a sort of sydney bachelor like style and then after a while i found that was quite intense, so i got kind of into lester young for a bit. I’M a big fan of lester young’s clarinet playing sure which is not talked about enough. Actually, i’m just aware of that of his playing in the uh count.
Basie big band, like i hadn’t, had an album come come and uh, but maybe you can tell us some recordings where you listen to to him playing the clarinet um. Well, i can’t think of an example of him playing clarinet on um. On account basically record, i mean i mostly listen to his work with um billy holliday and i’m just struggling to remember which tracks it is. I think it um, i think he plays on i’ve, got a date with a dream. Okay.
Yes, that’s a really beautiful solo. I’Ve got a date with a dream which is one of her 1930s recordings. I know that he played a metal clarinet um and i heard that he stopped playing when he he he somehow um. I don’t know if he lost that instrument, but because he couldn’t find another instrument with the same sound he just sort of gave up on the clarinet at some point in his career. But i think the thing is that stan’s stands out.
So those are my two favorite jazz musicians of all time: sydney, bechet and lester young, and i think both of them. You know it doesn’t really matter whether they’re playing saxophone or clarinet, because they just sound like them. You know like there’s no clarinet player in the world that sounds like bechet on the clarinet he’s got a very unusual sound and the same with lester young. They, i think their sense of self and their sense of sound transcends their instruments, and so those have they’ve always been basically the most important replays for me in jazz, there’s, no one else who for me comes close to them. Did you i do some research about their playing about their upcoming about or how did you approach um those guys for for your own advantage?
Um, i don’t know i i when i when i was at music college and i first kind of got into sydney better. I was it was, i guess it was a. It was a time when you know i guess there wasn’t the same things. There are today with youtube and everything. I just remember going to the college library and listening to the getting cds out and they had they had.
You know listening booths with headphones and you could just you know, pick cds out of the thing and just sit and listen to stuff and that it was yeah. That’S kind of what blew my mind. I remember suffering at music college a lot because i couldn’t get on with modern jazz. I found it very hard to connect to the sound of the way people played. I found it very sort of you know the word cerebral comes into mind.
It’S it’s not uh and i was always trying to find something. I don’t know i i always loved to play music for people to dance to you know, and i was outside of the jazz world. I was very into things like um. You know like afrobeat, like fella, cootie and stuff like that and african music and things like that um. I know i’m digressing from your question, but i i you know.
I just remember this thing of being into lots of different things and it was uh discovering 1920s jazz. That made me realize. Well it just felt like it had all my favorite things in it. You know it has you know it’s music for dancing too. It has beautiful classical harmony and it has um, improvisation and so yeah.
I mean anyway, so sydney beshte. I guess that’s it. I listened to loads of records of his and at some point i read his autobiography um and i also read another one of his books. Not so a biography of his called the wizard of jazz recently, but i guess yeah, mostly it’s just sort of listening and imitating you know to get into sydney better. You have to spend a lot of work on your vibrato, so i remember walking down the street um just seeing how fast i could possibly move my lips, so you know it’s kind of.
Can i get it faster? Can i you know, can i hold a strong, embouchure and wobble my jaw like? How is this possible? How does he make this sound? That was something that was very exciting for me, um and then i remember hearing a recording of myself with far too much vibrato and far too much.
It sounded very exaggerated and silly. So i kind of you know i i felt like i needed to do something different to find my own sound. I guess, and i and i think for me it always comes back to those two players because lester you know, then having a period with lester young. I ended up that’s when i first got my first vintage saxophone. I struggled for ages to make the sound i wanted on saxophone.
So clarinet became my primary thing and then i went out and i found out how to get an old 1930s con saxophone and got into lester young um, because i now had the instrument that was quite close to the one that he played um. But i guess that’s the thing like yes, you know it’s funny. I keep talking about the saxophone, but i think um. I don’t really see these instruments as necessarily being completely separate from one another. You know um they sort of influence one another um and i guess that’s the thing the planet’s always been more demanding in terms of you know, there’s there’s more notes, there’s more fingerings.
You have to know that. I think, since that time i i’ve always spent much more time practicing the clarinet than i have the saxophone um yeah. But you know – and i i see those two guys as as like yeah, you know the sun and the moon, the best shades like the sun, because it’s like blazing hot, fast, vibrato, very rich, very, very uh. You know so he has this sort of fiery. Angry.
Sound and lester young is mellow and um. To be honest, i mean you could say i could spend more time with other great jazz clarinetists, but i kind of don’t feel like i need anybody else to teach me about jazz really. So i just listened. Listen to those two guys. Did you transcribe gripe at one point, or was it just absorbing the records and play along well, i am well actually yeah.
I i’ve done a fair amount of transcribing. You know it’s interesting when you start teaching, you know you get other people to transcribe, so then you feel well. I ought to transcribe the thing. I’Ve got them to transcribe. So recently i transcribed the famous lester young solo on ladybe good for something i feel i should have done a long time ago.
Um and um should i count it off right now? No, no! No! No! I haven’t done it on the clarinet um, but uh yeah.
I i’ve done transcribing over the years. You know i had to do a music college um. I got very, very excited about um. You know cindy bechet’s uh pieces as well, so both of those guys i’ve got sometimes i’ve just copied their sound and their phrases, and sometimes i’ve um transcribed the whole thing recently, because i entered this uh jazz competition, this jazz clarinet competition um. I don’t know if you heard, but i just came second yeah want to mention that i came across your name through that thing, so maybe you can tell us a bit about what happens well, just with regards to transcribing, i mean i don’t think it came out In my playing, but i um, i suddenly thought you know what uh, if i want to get.
If i want to win a jazz competition, i should probably spend a bit more time with charlie parker, because because i’ve spent so much time on the old guys that i i you know, i realized actually that charlie parker is very much within my sort of sensibilities. As well so i transcribed a little bit of i’ve been working on um, his recording of cherokee from 1942, but trying to play it on clarinet. I thought like if i’m gon na you know really you know, but yeah so in the competition. I i practiced a lot and i and i i don’t think any charlie parker came out of my plane because i think in like three weeks: you’re not gon na, but i thought well, that’s a good sort of focus. I i played quite a bit of bach as well um solo bach, you know to sort of gear up and i basically did the same exercises every day, which have always been my main exercises.
Um there’s a few things that i always do, but it was nice to actually really you know practice all day, long for like a good two-week period and then yeah i mean it was interesting because i had to play some modern music, which is not something i’m Used to doing i’m so much used to playing the old style of music from the 20s and 30s that it was interesting to suddenly have to play the altered scale again, and you know to navigate these these tunes that were written by victor coynes um. I had to sort of so you guys just you guys had to record playing their compositions and send it in and they chose what they liked. Yeah yeah. So i had to pick from a list of things and they were all modern, modern compositions by members of the panel um. So i picked two by victor goins and one by one by eric seddon, the other judge, one of the other judges um and yeah.
So i memorized the tunes and i did my best to internalize the harmony. I don’t think i completely nailed the harmony there’s a few mistakes on the submission, but it was one of these things. I i decided to put my eggs in one basket as it were. I booked a recording session um with some. You know the only day that i could get my favorite musicians to play and it was two days before the submission.
So whatever happened on that day had to be what i submitted. You know um. I think if i was to do it again, i would have, i would have done it all at home and i would have had hours and hours and hours to find the perfect tape. I wasn’t, you know overly happy with what came out, but i guess i guess that’s the thing. It’S you know um.
We can we’re never going to be playing our best. You know and that’s what drives us so well. At least it led to an interview. So far, yes, definitely um. I hope i haven’t um rambled too much into into many different directions.
No, it’s interesting. Just keep going. I mean it’s it’s. We can really just follow. Follow your thoughts or, for example, you mentioned like there are things there are things that you’re practicing on a daily basis.
Maybe you can share with our audience some things that you’re working on, for example? Well, i mean if you want yes well, one of the things that i’m completely obsessed with is the melody to stardust, which i was very proud of myself on the other day, because i managed to play it in all 12 keys in two different registers and in Two of the keys in three different registers, so i did it in six 26 different positions. I can now play the melody to stardust um, and i think this is my favorite practice. Actually, you know when you just just when you learn a melody to take that melody and take it throughout your instrument. You know, find the lowest part of the tune.
You know, what’s the lowest note and then pick the key accordingly and go up in semitones until you get to the highest thing, and currently i i work all the way up to the top um a top b flat. You know so so i you know so i was, i don’t think i can perform stardust in in e major up to top b flat right now, but yeah. We don’t have the time for the 26 keys uh, but uh uh yeah. That’S that’s! That’S the interesting thing about the clarinet: isn’t it because you know you can say: okay well, there’s 12 different keys, but the clarinet doesn’t work like that.
You know so and at least in the first register i like to think of it as being in 19. Different keys because there are 19 different semitones before you start your fingerings again. So if you learn you know what i mean, if you learn a pattern, you have to do it 19 times before the fingerings. Are the same so and then, of course, the top is different again so yeah i am so transposition, in other words, is one of the focus focuses that you have to be free to to play a melody in different keys like you’re, totally yeah. You know whatever.
So my obsession is it’s about playing the melody, how i play it. So if i’m and i can pick you could just pick a random key, if you want, i mean it doesn’t really matter, but um yeah well, any keys springs to mind yeah. Well, let me let me smell the air. Well just go ahead, and we i mean it really doesn’t matter i mean so so so, basically, what i’m obsessed with is is portamento. Portamento is my is my main one of my main parts of my practice, which i think is kind of a lost art, and it’s also something you know it’s something, that’s very, very key to classical violin and well classical string playing.
You know the violins and cellos and and and also a key part classical singing, and it was a very big part of jazz, but it’s kind of a skill that people don’t spend much time with. You know people’s people bend with their lips and they do glissandos with their finger, but i’m not talking just about cassandra’s. I’M saying i want to be able to bend between any note freely, so [, Music ]. I practice like this. You know i try and find you know um.
I try and find solutions to how to get my fingers to link notes together. Basically, so that’s why i find it. You know, i don’t just play the melody. I i work on the intonation. I work on the vibrato i work on making it sing like a voice.
You know um and i think portamento is one of the most exciting parts of that. Basically, if that makes sense, i think you’ve cut out. Are you still there hello, hello, yeah, i’m at the internet. The internet was gone, but i listened carefully. Sorry, i’m still here.
I said: oh okay, cool um, so yeah. So that was so that’s what i’m kind of thinking about. Um, i’ve even been working on the idea of glissandoing over the break as well so trying to do the impossible, which is uh. It’S probably not going to be easy to demonstrate right now, because it’s kind of impossible, but there it was. That was a very crude example, but i went from a from a.
I can actually go from an open g to a c over the break, um um, but you know so that’s the beginning of how it starts with the portamento and it sounds crude and a mess. And then you try and refine it. You know, and i like stardust as a melody, because it contains lots of very beautiful phrases. You know you know, you know that’s an extreme example. It starts like that, and i try and control it, and you know i’m very inspired by like uh the theremin as well.
I think that’s a great instrument because it has no uh. It has absolute freedom in this respect, who’s doing that, like you um who plays like that in the sorry, i can’t i’m i’m losing you for some reason. Your sound is not working hello. I’M here yeah um! Well!
Well, i didn’t understand the last sentence because the internet is going in and out yeah um. Can you um? Okay? So i’m talking about um, you know i’m practicing portamento all the time. That’S like a big part of my work, um and i’m very inspired by theremin, for example, because thoramine does look, that’s what it is and uh.
I was very very taken with a particular recording of um of the swan by uh by this famous theremin player. From from the uh from the 20s, well, i think the recordings later than that, like 60s or something called clara rockmore, you know the swan by samsung, so i said to myself: well i will i’ll practice this this style. You know it sounds ridiculous by itself, but it becomes part of my playing you know so you know, oh goodness, you see if it doesn’t work, it’s a disaster. If i’m not warmed up – and i don’t think i can do it on the clarinet very well, but you know this sort of thing, but then you know if i take it into like um, if i’m just playing like normally it just happens. Sometimes, oh anyway.
Sorry, i’m struggling to demonstrate these things right now, but this is what i’m practicing. Yes, it’s great to hear what you’re talking about yeah um, i’m also very influenced by ottoman music, so turkish clarinet style. I listen a lot to this music as well, so they also use um these techniques um in their music as well, and sometimes i play that style. You know when i’m practicing as well, um so yeah, so that’s it. I take tunes around all 12 keys.
I try and get them in different registers. Yeah um i um and i use you know i use the same pattern. I always use this sound this one [ Music ]. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this pattern before i’ve heard, but i’m not sure where i heard it well. I was, i was given lessons by a saxophone player in london called john tucson when i was at music college and he and yeah um told me to practice that and it’s become center central to all my practice.
So i do that in all different positions. I do it in the in the major key. I do it in the minor key and i do it in another mode as well, so in this mode, [, Music, ] and then i you know what i often do is i get my metronome and i put it on an uneven surface so that it swings Slightly right, so we have a nice groove, which is what i call a neutral feel it’s not it’s not triplet swing, and it’s not straight. No. Can you hear that yeah?
I can hear it so i play it. You know [ Music, ]. You know trying to that was probably put it slightly smaller swung than i want. I try and find the perfect angle. You know my my piano over here is not it’s not on a flat surface, so it’s quite nice and i think about this sort of micro.
Groove and then i do it different rhythms um, you know like oh then, and then like [, Music, ] and then finally and um, and i do it all throughout the whole instrument. Interesting, that’s that’s the metronome laying on the side or what no it’s. If you take a metronome yeah and you okay, just give it away okay, it’s hard to demonstrate exactly, but if it’s, if it’s flat, it will be even, but if you put it slightly to the side, you can get a little swing yeah and that’s it. If you have one of those metronomes, but these guys most guys have the other one, but the point is: is that when you play you know jazz phrasing and you want to play swing, you want to play it with a nice light. Feel you know it’s not.
You know i don’t want to be playing like you know, so it’s a nice. It’S a nice way to sort of find this neutral swing, which i think is something i’ve always very much admired about. Lester young, you know um. I can’t i’m struggling to actually play for you right now, but i don’t know if that’s what we’re supposed to be doing so um, it’s all right, yeah um! I totally get the point what you’re talking about like to to to place the notes?
Well, what’s i mean you’re looking for what fits your style of playing, what you like and admiring others and in yourself? So that’s why you place the notes behind the bar or ahead of the bar. I get it. That’S not the thing. This is not about um playing behind the b as such.
This is about ratios. So, for me, swing has two elements right, it’s well. So it is about what you said, but there’s two elements. One element is ratio, so you know the more i tilt the metronome. The bigger the difference because it becomes between the two beat lengths right.
So i mean i don’t know it doesn’t work very well on the hand you see, i normally do it um. So that’s quite a high ratio now they’re more even so. There we go now. The ratios got bigger again and you know i think people when they when they learn classical music and they learn about jazz. They think the ratio is two to one.
You know triplets, but i i like to find something you know. Maybe it’s more like three to two. You know, or maybe it’s more like you know, 3.6 to two point. Whatever it’s it’s a it’s a microrhythmic thing, it’s just fine, but it’s, but it’s a scientific thing too.
At the same time, and and the great thing is you know sometimes what i do is i just i have coins and i just stick them underneath one of the legs to change the swing of. What’S going on. Of course, you know you have to put the metronome right down to its lowest point and so that’s the fastest. You can use this metronome for it’s the tempo. I just showed you so so that’s um yeah.
So i use that as a kind of it’s been a nice thing for me, because i feel that it’s very difficult in these times to get away from looking at a screen all the time you know, so i don’t actually own an electronic metronome. I can stick it on my phone or stick it on the computer, but it means invariably i’m looking at a screen, so it’s nice to get away from electric electricity. When i practice you know it doesn’t blew up and i and it’s very very, very hard to find a flat surface in my house. So where are you living man? I i live in london in an old, victorian house.
You know so i guess it was built. 150 years ago – and it’s just not flat and um, and so if i do want to use the metronome in the conventional way, it’s it takes a long time of adjusting to find that to find that equal spot. So if i want to practice, you know other things i find i i use a drumbeat actually on my computer, hey and then i can record myself playing and listen back to what i did um. So i do you know i use technology as well um but yeah. So but that’s the thing.
The main. The main elements of practice for me are just it’s getting my fingers to move in rhythm um. You know being able to play melodies in any key and then obviously range. I do the i do the. What do you call it um?
I do extended arpeggios. You know [ Music ], my goodness, i’m not warmed up today. I’Ve got a terrible, read. I’M sorry! Um this um, this exercise, which you know if i’d done my long notes and warmed up, because i didn’t warm up before our interview i didn’t know i was gon na – be playing uh.
It’S it’s really just those things and then yes, then, after all that becomes we get into the world of improvisation practice, which i guess is probably the most interesting thing of all um. You know so i develop my sound. I develop like making my instruments speak and i think about all that and then i i play games. I use restrictive exercises to work around the chord sequences um. So i mean you know like i don’t know if you know what i’m talking about, but um, something that i’ve grown to call the suspended.
Note technique told me um, which is maybe not the right name, but i i i’m you know, i’m teaching this in my workshops that i do i’m doing a weekly zoom workshop and using these these you know teaching these exercises. I believe this is how you improvise. You have to create parameters, so if i look at the tune, all of me, which i think is the best tune to teach improvisation on um for me – is – i am i’ll, take one you know. So if i play all of me in the key of c i’ll, take one note, um and i’ll feature in every bar, so i’ll do a whole chorus of all of me with c, as the most important note so do in the scale, then then i’ll do Another chorus, you know then i’ll i’ll see if i can be fluent making that note the most important note and then i’ll go up the scale. So i’ll do the second degree.
You know re, so you know. So if i just do a little bit of the song, you know in this key if i make c the most important note in every bar, so you know i start with the route then i do the second degree yeah you know, then i just go up The [ Music ] scale, [ Music, ], [, Music, ] yeah, and you just keep going, but obviously so. Every time i learn, i work on a song. I play this game up the the scale and sometimes, if i’m in a very extreme mood, i do it in all 12 semitones and i’ll start on the lowest note of the clarinet. So if i’m playing all of me and c, i start by featuring the low e and then you know, and the game is, i have to make a good solo.
But this is the most important note in every bar of the whole chord sequence. Yeah, that’s powerful exercise and it’s the, and this is the only way for me to feel free. You know, i don’t i don’t think about licks. I just think about um yeah. I just think about composing really, but but being able to do it in the moment.
Um, you know it’s very difficult at the bottom of the clarinet, because there’s some notes that just won’t work. So you you you, you know if we start, if we’re in all of me and c, you know you’re you’re, going in with every note like you’re playing with, like the all of me with the f, that’s the most important thing, yeah i’ll start with all of My with e is the most important right. Oh sorry, sorry! Yes, this is interesting, so you so basically on every song that i practice when i practice the chord sequence. I go up the scale.
I definitely use all seven notes of the major scale. Okay, regardless of what the chords are um and then sometimes, if i’m being more extreme i’ll use all 12 notes, that’s what i was asking for. So if we’re doing all the means in c, the f is no problem for me. You know people think about. Oh, you know you can’t play an f.
You know this is the worst note on a c major chord, but it’s fine, there’s no problem, yeah sure it depends how you play it. Yeah well, yeah. So actually, but actually i was talking about your f – not the piano f, oh yeah, yeah, yeah yeah. That’S not that’s the problem! [ Music!
]! Oh me! Hopefully you could still follow the chord sequence there. It could sound like a load of rubbish, but you know anyway, a lot of creative ideas and keep it fresh and with yeah well exercise. It’S like.
I think it’s interesting for people to uh to realize that, like it doesn’t matter what kind of style or what what you’re doing you can be very specific about it and have certain like exercises that can help to set you free at the end. When you just make music for for people who are dancing, for example – oh yeah, it’s very simple um. You know this is a great exercise because it means i can decide what what note i want to play. I don’t have to worry about the chords and if i hit a note that i wasn’t meaning to play, i know how to get out of it. I know how to fix it and every mistake becomes a positive thing that you can enjoy.
You know the only times you make you know. Sometimes we make you know the worst mistakes that i think you can make are when you, you know when you stop, when you start trying to um, you stop just feeling the music and you start uh, trying to think about what scale you know. So what chord you should be playing right now and blah blah. Sometimes when i’m playing um my mind says, play this arpeggio and i play like a whole arpeggio in the completely the wrong key. You know um a wrong note, isn’t a problem but a wrong arpeggio.
A wrong phrase: it doesn’t fit. It’S definitely something you can’t fix, there’s definitely wrong things in jazz. You know. I don’t believe this idea that there are no wrong notes, but i mean in terms of individual notes. Yes, any note you can make it work and do beautiful things with it um.
I guess i’m waiting for yeah. I was ready for it again, but um yeah, it’s all good. I i have. I wonder if the connection is, if it’s, if it’s my side, i could plug in uh ethernet. No, nothing to do with you.
It’S sometimes it’s the software. Sometimes it’s the whatever it is um. Okay, it’s it’s not up close yeah. You have perfect uh. I see the strong internet sign coming to you, uh, maybe okay, let’s reach a bit like now.
We we got to know like what’s going on inside uh inside your brain or your practice between. Maybe you can tell us a bit about your uh like uh. I read that you have certain like kind of music series like life like steady, gigs or something what’s going on there or how did you develop that kind of audience or where do you like to play and for dance? Well, i mean, i suppose, the practical side of making music outside. Well, i mean at the moment with the lockdown.
I don’t have any gigs at all um and i’m just doing all my work on live streams, but in the past i was playing um for in small clubs for people to dance. I ran a night in london for 10 years, um called the cakewalk, and that was all for dancing too, and it was all focused on old style, jazz from the 20s and 30s um. So and quite a lot of the time, i’ve you know tried to keep it and try to connect together all the people from the scene who love this music. So i don’t i haven’t just said: okay, i’ve got a weekly gig, i’m just going to have my band. I’Ve tried to include you know, all the you know: lots of different people from the scene and and i’ve got a chance to play with quite a few people and um.
So i had a at one point when i was going really well. I had a residency every every wednesday in one place and then with different bands and then every thursday um with my band and then a saturday night in a bigger place. Also and all these places people could dance and people like to dance, but you know i i don’t like to play. Cheesy swing, music either. I i don’t want to play music that some people, some swing dancers, only want to hear this sort of count.
Basie stuff. You know with the riffs and the kind of simple stuff like that. I’Ve always liked to play a variety of things. I mean um. I like playing ragtime a lot ragtime tunes um as well as as well as late stuff, um generally pre-war kind of things, but yeah i um.
I got together a lot of rags with this particular band. I had called the cable street ragband which no longer exists, but we played you know. We played some scott joplin, of course, but we also played some other things by wc, handy and general morton. Do you play the piano there or the clarinet or a wolf? Oh totally clarinet i mean well, i played a front line with two clarinet players and um.
At one point i lived above this venue so i had. I could have all my instruments with me. So i’d have like alto. I play a lot of alto saxophone. Imitating the style of a trumpet player playing the lead in the band um and then on.
Some numbers me and the other guy would play two clarinets together, so double clarinet uh and sometimes he would play bass clarinet and i would play clarinet. Sometimes i’d play clarinet. He played tennis, but we just mix up all the different things, but we, you know we had someone playing piano at the time in that band um, but yeah i’ve. I very much like leading a band in that sort of old style where we all play collectively together um, but it’s very hard to find musicians that you really click. Click with.
I had a very positive experience playing in new orleans a few times with a band called tuba skinny, which you may have heard of um. There’S lots of recordings of us playing together and i had two three month periods with them and i made an album. I made an album with them a couple of years ago, where i played mostly alto saxophone, and you know the big part of that is to is to to play collectively. So you know we have some arranged bits, but the the beautiful part is this new orleans counterpoint where we all play at the same time, um and yeah in my own band in london. I i ended up doing that a lot just with one other musician, because you know i happen to find a very special connection with the way we the two of us play together.
His name is: will scott and uh he’s now moved to cyprus, so we can’t play together anymore, but we had a very um strong understanding. You know there’s a sort of magic that happens when you can improvise with someone at the same time, and so we had all that going on, but we were always kind of conscious of the dance floor. So i guess the thing that’s slightly different with the older jazz is to try and keep the songs not too long. You know so that you know so. You change developing this developing this way to lead a band where you can keep the arrangement very tight, um using hand, gestures to kind of cool breaks, and you know this idea that it shouldn’t be that you know, i think some people for some people, a jazz Band should be an absolute um, it’s completely equal, everybody gets the same.
You know we start with the head and then everybody gets a solo and everyone solos. You know two or three choruses and including the bass player and the drummer, and you go around like that. But i think i was quite interested in the idea of kind of coming up with a piece of music. So not everybody gets a solo on each time and sometimes we do sort of rhythmic breaks. Sometimes i’ll call it that, like we’ll just you know, tell certain parts of the band to cut out and we’ll just have like a moment of just guitar and clarinet or um.
You know we. We tried lots of different things live with arrangement. You know um rhythmic breaks, riffs, um, uh, all sorts of things, and it was. It was a nice thing and it’s a nice thing to do it on a regular basis with um with an audience who like to dance but not exclusively um yeah. So so that’s kind of the the sort of style of band leading i’m used to and and i kind of have run jam sessions in a similar sort of way.
I mean that’s. A difficult challenge is to run a jam session where you’re still keeping the dance floor happy i mean some dancers, don’t mind the odd song which goes on for for hours and hours, but but generally you try and you know so. You’Ve got to kind of weigh up this balance was kind of making sure that everyone gets a go, but also, but also keeping the music sort of tight. I guess um so yeah, that’s, i guess that’s been mostly what i’ve been doing. Um i’d like to play more sort of listening gigs in a way um.
I kind of have recorded some stuff, which is more like me, playing ballads and things and um kind of you know it’s an interesting time for reflection right now. There are no gigs at all um. You know i’ve got nothing in the book, so i guess when i come out of this, i’m hoping to put some things in place. You know yeah last last but not least, can you tell a bit what what attracts you? Uh to play for and like for for dancers uh compared to just play for people that are lined up on chairs on chairs just to listen.
Is there something you’re finding satisfying more in one or another or in a different way, in that kind of style of music that you’re focusing on i mean i just yeah, it’s funny, you know i, i guess i don’t really connect to the music. That’S kind of i don’t connect to the modern jazz so well um, for the reason that it i don’t feel it makes me want to dance. So i i kind of feel it’s like a thing that it really amazes me when i hear you know my favorite stuff to listen to is um is the 1930s billie holiday stuff with teddy wilson and lester young. I’M sure you know it um the real famous recordings. You know when she was younger and her voice was clearer and that music is incredibly soulful and beautiful, but you can also dance to it.
I think i think music doesn’t have to you know. Sometimes i think people kind of see it’s like there’s, dance, music and then there’s sort of serious music, but the music, that’s really blown my mind is – is music that you can dance to that’s, also very deep and soulful and meaningful at the same time. Um and that’s what i was seeking to do, you know i guess, but i mean: do you get some like feedback when people are dancing you, you got the impression well, i must be playing pretty well, otherwise they would not dance or has it to do with Something else it’s just like to be in the service of like music and serve to dance, but people can listen and sit down if they want. I mean just basic. What basically draws you to to this uh um your opinion, basically or feeling it’s uh.
I don’t know exactly what it is um. I guess i like the clarity of like a strong rhythm. I i find it’s nice to um. I think you do play differently when you see people moving to to be and you you adjust your style accordingly. Um yeah probably i mean you know, i think these sort of things we talk about like swinging stuff.
I think they couldn’t develop without a dance floor. I think sort of i kind of feel that i think jazz kind of lost its way a little bit. For me, when it abandoned the dance floor, i feel um. You know it’s like. I think about that charlie parker, recording of him in the 1940s in 1942, where he’s got rhythm, guitar accompaniment and i feel like this – is kind of perfect music and it’s interesting um.
It’S interesting how okay for me, it’s like whether rhythm guitar leaves the music something changes and it ceases to have that function anymore. I’Ve always i guess i, like the simplicity of the sort of driving beat, and i love sort of thinking about the african side of the music, i’m very interested. I don’t just listen to jazz music. I listen to music from all around the world. I’Ve spent some time playing with african musicians as well.
I’Ve played an afrobeat sort of bands and things – and i don’t see jazz, is any different and i and i like to when i listen to the really old style of playing. I i hear caribbean music in there i hear um. I hear the african rhythm actually much stronger, actually in in the really old stuff. You know you listen to really old, 20s music um there’s something earthier about it. I guess um.
So i guess yeah i mean it’s just it’s not that i don’t love other music too. I i listen to classical music as well, so i love there’s all sorts of music. That’S beautiful! I think that that you don’t have to dance to, but i guess in terms of jazz, i see it as kind of like the kind of jazz i play. I feel like it needs the dance floor.
You know i mean i, i have lovely gigs playing it without the dance floor too, of course, but um yeah. I don’t know if that’s answered your question. No, it does definitely yeah yeah. Well, thanks for sharing all your thoughts and uh the way you practice now, we can apply it to ourselves and uh see if we have that uneven surface for our metronome and uh was was interesting to to to see your way of of dealing with uh staying In shape what to practice uh what to think about or not to do what it’s quite a process? Yeah, i’m just sorry that i couldn’t quite demonstrate.
My uh, i feel, like i didn’t, do my portamento justice today, but anyway, you’ll probably hear it in my playing. No, no, i heard uh what you’re you were explaining and playing. So it was beautiful. It’S always nice when people play something it’s it’s kind of refreshing between just just talking about it. So uh it got through.
Don’T worry, yeah yeah! Well, we didn’t get to talk about the blues either so yeah, that’s it yeah in the next episode. We’Ll do that for sure, because we talked about micro rhythm, but you’ve also got to talk about micro tones as well, but anyway, right right, yeah yeah, but anyway. Yes, i guess it’s time to um yeah yeah, it’s okay, it’s enough to digest for the moment and uh who knows uh where this will lead, but uh well, yeah! Please, please tell everyone to subscribe to my youtube channel.
If they, you know, that’s i’m hoping to get more more followers, so that would really help yeah. I i posted your website, but i’ve yeah people will find you for sure yeah. I need to make sure there’s a link to my youtube from there, but anyway, thank you very much. Yeah thanks. You was nice to chat with you.