Saturday, 10 May 2014

Solo Album 2: Blog #3 (Sax and Drums and Rock 'n' Roll)

So, the next solo record is rocketing along... Although I should be clear here, I'm not looking to put it out until next year, but the instrumental tracking phase is well underway and at this rate I can see the main production being completed this year. New compositions are still emerging, and though I'm at a point where there's a healthy album's worth I've no desire to stem the flow just yet, so we'll see where it goes in the coming weeks. It would be nice to have some 'spare' material that I can potentially use for any single / EP releases, but the album is my focus right now.

Aside from adding a couple of new tunes to the roster since my last blog there's been more in the way of recording over the past week or so: Having already included flautist Vivien Goodwin-Darke in the proceedings I'm delighted to add fellow Billy Bottle & The Multiple member Roz Harding to the line-up of core musicians. Roz is a phenomenal alto saxophonist whose outstanding jazz trio WAVE (also featuring Mike Outram and Jim Bashford) has become a live favourite of mine :-) She's also a member of the esteemed Mike Westbrook Big Band, and if there's any justice in this world is surely heading for great things music career-wise... Since working on the 'Unrecorded Beam' record Roz and I have discovered a succession of shared musical passions and eccentricities, so it was only fitting that I should invite her to play on this record ;-) Moreover her approach to the instrument changed my perception of it considerably - for the better! To my delight she was enthusiastic about joining the party, and so earlier this week we spent more than six hours recording a combination of written parts that I had prepared in advance and blistering improvisations! Speaking of Viv, she and husband Tim kindly facilitated the session at their beautiful and relaxed Dawlish guesthouse Coombe Brook, (which I'd recommend to anyone - particularly musicians / artists - visiting the area) :-)

Here's a snap from the session...

Inviting brilliant players is one thing, but it's especially gratifying (for me, but also them) when they understand what I'm doing musically and are enthusiastic about their role. This is happening a fair bit with the current album I'm pleased to say, which maybe indicates that I'm doing something worthwhile ;-) I'm certainly feeling fired-up by the material and the process of dressing the songs, so for me at least it's a thrill!

[UPDATE: Roz has written about this session in her latest blog, which you can find HERE ...]

I made mention of a "second drummer" on the album in a previous blog, but I'm now happy to announce (even though I let slip on Facebook the other day) that it's Pat Mastelotto of King Crimson / Mr. Mister / Stick Men (and a thousand other great bands) notoriety :-) I've gotten to know Pat over the past few years and have mastered several of his releases as well as assisting with post-production on various Crimson ProjeKCt and Stick Men albums, but this marks the first occasion where he'll be playing on my compositions. It's terrific to have him onboard, and in fact he's already completed his parts for two of the pieces... He'll appear on at least four songs, including a drum-duet with Troy on one!

Here are a couple of snaps of Pat's main kit setup for these recordings (at 'Mastelotto Central', Austin, Texas):

Incidentally I first saw Pat play in 1993 with Sylvian & Fripp at The Royal Albert Hall, London... A very special gig for me, and one that doesn't feel like 21 years ago - Crikey!

Another person joining the ranks for this project is my friend Fabio Trentini who has just recorded some funky-ass rhythm guitar for a couple of songs. He's such a professional - I gave a clear brief and got exactly what I'd hoped for within a couple of hours ;-) After working with Fabs in a number of capacities it's great to finally get him on one of my recordings, (it nearly happened a couple of years back but that's another story), and at the same time I've just completed my contributions for his next Moonbound album: As mentioned recently Lisa is singing backing vocals and harmonies on several tracks, and I've created the arrangements (as well as recording and editing the performances) for these parts. They sound great and Fabio is currently mixing the record.

In a few days I'll be heading out to Berlin to hang with my pal, Unsung Productions partner, and frequent collaborator Markus Reuter. I'm looking forward to exploring Berlin and meeting up with friends, though part of my time there will be spent working on the album: Markus and I plan to devote a few days to recording his U8 (Touch Guitar) contributions which will be a combination of parts that I've written, improvisations, ambient soundscapes, and anything we devise together during the sessions... I guess I'll write about that next time ;-) In the mean time I have a ton of recordings from the recent sessions to sift through and edit, so I'll call it a day for this blog.

More soon - and now that I'm getting into the habit of regular updates I guess I really do mean that!


PS - Kudos to my friend Simon Northcott for this blog title which I stole from his comment on my recent Facebook post ;-)

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