Sax Appeal

 

 I had great fun playing with Sax Appeal this week as well as mixing my new album with Luc Saint-Martin. Luc is the sound engineer at Pizza Express on Dean Street. He recorded my concert in April but I haven't had a chance to mix the album until now (August). I enjoyed cycling down into central London for a couple of days to mix the album with Luc. It was also a massive learning curve for me to work with such an experienced engineer during a mix. I normally mix on my own and have often thought that I am ok at it. I now realize this may not be the case. Anyway I'm really happy with the results of the gig and mix so I intend to try and get on with the artwork and get the album ready for my gig at the Forge on Friday 26th October.

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Proved wrong.

 

   The above video is me performing with Wang Chang on a track called 'Dance Hall Days', the solo is a bit high and screechy for my liking but it's the only footage I have of the gig.  Jack and Nick are fab guys who have written some great tunes, for more info on Wang Chung click here.

           So on my 19th June blog (below) I wrote about how I was not looking forward to the Olympics and how I thought it was going to be a nightmare when it came to getting around London. Post Olympics I have to say I was happily proved wrong. London Transport were excellent with their information, sending out emails every day informing everyone of where to avoid etc. One of my main problems with hosting the games was that the money could be better spent on going towards the athletes. I am pleased to say that our athletes performed brilliantly and they do now have a 50 metre pool plus  much needed training facilities. Do I think in 5 years time the Olympic park will have turned in another dome, maybe but again I hope I'm proved wrong. Do I like LOWCOG and the way they decided to use musicians to play in the park without paying them or letting them promote their products? Of course not. However well done to the UK and well done to the amazingly hard working athletes who train so hard everyday.

Pickin' up many pieces...

      

          So I'm backstage at a festival wandering around killing time when I see Freddy V who I had seen  and heard play with The Average White Band last year.  I loved his use of space, time and his tone so I bought his cd which I enjoyed. I went over and introduced myself and told him I thought he and the band sounded great then carried on killing time (an unpleasant but major past time for a musician on a gig!)

  An hour later my MD came over to me and asked if I would like to play with AWB on Pick Up The PIeces!
 The next thing I know Freddy V is asking me if I know the tune to which I reply no! Over all the years of playing I have never had to play it and therefore had never learnt it.(This is not ok, as a sax player you should learn certain well known fab tunes, this is one of them) Freddy kindly didn't make a big deal about it and proceeded to teach me the tune. Anyways as you can see it went well even if I was a little embarrased about not knowing the tune. It was fantastic to be asked and to be able to play with people I really do admire. These guys have been around the world a few times and some!

Rob Hughes Quartet live @ Lower Ground Bar and Berlin

I had a good night at the Lower Ground Bar in West Hampstead. This bar is a basement bar which is labyrinth like once your in. The night featured the amazing talents of Roger Beaujolais on Vibraphone, rhythm section features Peter Ibbetson on drums and Henrick Jensen on Double bass. Below is on of Roger's tunes called Oregano.

     After the gig I went out to Berlin to play for Holly Johnson. It was hot and very humid! Since we are having such a miserable summer I actually enjoyed being hot! The concert went well and was well attended. I play Keyboards, Sax and Flute on this gig which is fun. I got to check out Roger Hodgson (ex Super-tramp) and his band. I loved the music and the way he featured his band. His sax player Aaron MacDonald was fantastic to watch as he played all saxes (well) and also played really good keyboards, melodica and had a great voice! Very talented guy. For me I love watching gigs that are real. What I mean by that is, what is played on the stage is then heard out front by the audience. A classic example of the opposite of this is the Beyonce concert. It looks fab but doesn't sound real. The problem being is that the performers are all talented but the producers don't want a 'real' sound so they mix the live brass in with recorded brass. The same happens to some of the other instruments which gives a very 'safe' over produced sound. Some people like this but it's not for me.

                         I am booked up to mix the tracks for my next album in August and ready to release the album at the Forge on October 26th so book your tickets now. The picture below is from the gig with Holly

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Update

     

         19th June 2012

  I've recently been busy rehearsing with Holly Johnson. The video above shows a concert we recently played (I'm hidden away to the right on keys and sax). Holly Johnson was in a group called 'Frankie Goes To Hollywood' which had success in the 80's. I've enjoyed playing his material especially the above tune.

           I thought I’d add a blog as I’m finding this year very difficult.  Like the wars we managed to find are way into over the last 10 years, who really wants the Olympics? If it passes of without incident I will be very surprised. I know London will not cope with the amount of people. At present I avoid using the tube as much as possible and now ride my bike into town if I don’t need to carry my sax. It’s just you can’t trust public transport plus it’s not a pleasant experience. So add a few more million people and surprise surprise it’s going to unbearable. I have always enjoyed watching the Olympics from afar (on TV) happy in the knowledge that it’s not happening here and we are not the country that has spent millions on a firework display. Another (selfish) point is not a single musician I know has been booked as a result of this 2 week event. In fact I've heard from the MU that 'LOCOG' (this is the management group behind the olympics) are asking musicians to perform for free!  I hoped having this event happen in my country would generate work for people so that they could feel better about the past 5 years of huge council tax bills!

           I would be more than happy to have spent all the money we have spent on the infrastructure on our athletes and up and coming athletes and not on buildings that will soon become another Millenium dome. So please feel free to disagree and in a way I hope I’m proved wrong but common sense tells me for Londoners it’s going to be grim and for anyone watching on TV it will be glossed over and made to look like a success.

    Anyway I know this is probably not a poplular view but it's easy to go along with the majority and pretend but I cannot in this case.

My next gig!

26th june poster

    Here's another tune from my last concert at Pizza Express.

Live recording of my next album at Pizza Express on Monday 30th April.

I enjoyed an amazing night at Pizza Express on Monday. Recently I have been enjoying listening to a sax player called Bob Reynolds . He plays alongside John Mayer and is an artist in his own right. He has released albums which I think are very interesting. One of these is a live album which reminded me of how much I prefer live recordings. I wanted to record the night at Pizza Express as my next album. The problem with this idea is simple, if you don't play very well then the recording will be pointless and expensive. Over the last few years as well as writing and recording on the London Experiment, I have been writing tunes which were designed to be duos however since rehearsing for the recording myself and the musicians in the band have added to the arrangements of which I am really pleased. The night produced some of the best compositions and performances I have ever worked on (In my opinion) The composition below is called 'Living The Dream' which is actually an old tune which is on my first album 'Butterfly'

            Here's a review wriiten by Stephen Graham from Jazzwise;

Joined by surprise guest singer Randolph Matthews, sounding uncannily like Bobby McFerrin in the vocals department, saxophonist/flautist Rob Hughes recorded his latest album with his quintet live at Pizza Express Jazz Club last night in front of a mellow audience made up of what sounded like a fairly large contingent of smartphone-wielding Italians.

Hughes – last heard by Jazzwise in Camden at the Blues Kitchen in US blues guitarist Matt Backer’s band last December – has a pretty robust sound on the tenor saxophone, imbued with a Dan-like horn section swagger but last night it was his flute playing that had an additional edge, which slightly recalled the great Hubert Laws. His brief, tip-top duo vocals with Matthews later on also showed an extra element to Hughes’ range as the band backed the pair. But the tricksy lines of his self-penned song ‘I’m not being funny but’ or his unusual tribute to Stan Getz, whose music the “head of hairdressing” at the Kidderminster college where Hughes studied rock and jazz introduced him to – he told the momentarily mystified audience – more than indicated the saxophonist’s mettle and improvising flair.

With acid jazz era favourite Roger Beaujolais on the vibraphone tucked in behind him, Rick Laughlin from The London Experiment on piano and pitch bending keys to his side, plus the slightly more reticent bass of big Dane Henrik Jensen and soul/funk drummer Francesco Mendolia, Matthews was the big surprise of the evening, and he and Hughes will reconvene later in the year for a duo gig at Kings Place. With great dexterity and skill in finding his vocalese direction within the wash of pedal generated saxophone polyphonics triggered by Hughes the McFerrin-esque and his Bona-like effects were nonetheless coming from a creative space, even if the tunes took a while to get going. Hughes and Matthews excelled on a new arrangement of ‘Living The Dream’, featured on Hughes’ 2006 album Butterfly, and Beaujolais was able to stretch out more and more as the gig went on, adding a new dimension to the fast unfolding sound.

Stephen Graham


 

        The above tune features a fantastic vocalist I have known for a while now Randolph Matthews. We are playing a duo gig together on Sunday 16th September 2012 at the fantastic new concert venue Kings Place in Kings Cross. I happy to tell you the event is free!

South Africa

 

I flew out to Durban in South Africa in Feb to play for several different artists. It was fun but also lots of hard work as we had 3 days to rehearse with 9 artists! We then flew the next day and sound checked for 4 hours which was testing!. Luckily the weather was fab and on the first day it was very windy which kept me relatively cool. The next day was the gig which was hot with no wind! However the stage seemed to avoid direct sunlight throughout the day so that really helped. I placed a camera on the stage just as an experiment and above is what came out. I don't know if it's interesting or not but I thought you could let me know..in a nice way!

           Anyway the concert went well with over 20,000 people attending also I managed to make it into the sea the next day which was so warm I loved it! You have to keep your wits about you in South Africa but without a doubt it's a beautiful country which I think is starting to move in the right direction.

Sri Lanka

 

I woke up last Monday morning after a big gig the night before thinking 'lie in'... oh yes. Then the phone rang...'Could you fly out to Sri Lanka tonight to play for Billy Ocean'. Result no lie in. In fact a lie seems to be a thing of the past I need to come to terms with. So I packed went to Heathrow, flew for 12 hours traveled to the venue in Columbo and played a gig with Billy (who is a very cool guy x 100!) We then went to the Hotel, ate a meal, slept then flew home the next day. I have to confess I was a little grouchy on the return flight. There is only so much flyinging I can take, I think it's a combination of not being on the ground plus being forced to be in a small tube with lots of people for hours on end.

                      Above you can see a video montage of the gig, I'm not sure about the TV companys sound my sax sounds like a chainsaw however it was a fab gig played to over 5000 people. Ok bedtime, no lie in expected.

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