Here’s a full length video of my quartet’s set at last year’s Manchester Jazz Festival courtesy of Jazz North and the Northern Line scheme.
Ben Watte (tenor sax), Graham South (trumpet) and Stewart Wilson (double bass).
I wrote this post a month ago but never published it, so here it is…
I have lots of exciting things lined up for this year. First off, my trio with Adam Fairhall and Seth Bennett (Fragments) have been signed to the Northern Contemporary record label. We are also going away for a residential at the end of January for intense rehearsals, workshopping new ideas, getting drunk and playing Micro Machines on the Megadrive.
In February, my quartet will be embarking on a short week long tour of the UK. We will be debuting a whole load of new material which explores some very different areas. You can see us at Jazz at the Oxford (London), Jazz at the Spotted Dog (Birmingham), Matt & Phred’s (Manchester), the Caledonia (Liverpool), and Number 39 (Darwen) – check my calendar for details.
Towards the end of last year, we recorded a new album with Nat Birchall. The line-up being Nat (saxes), Adam Fairhall (piano), Mick Bardon (double bass), Andy Hay (drums) and myself – two drummers! It felt like a really special session and a track from it has already been played on Jamie Cullum’s BBC Radio 2 show. We have a couple of exciting gigs in the diary too, one of which being a support slot for the Roy Hargrove Quintet.
Cath Roberts’s group, Sloth Racket, will be very active this year. We recorded her album in November so that should be out soon. We are taking it on tour in May (and potentially October too); check her website for details.
I’m also excited about a new duo with Mark Hanslip (tenor sax), playing tunes and, of course, Free Improv; Adam Fairhall has started an organ trio with me and Dave Birchall (guitar), which will be the first time I’ve played properly with Dave and I’ve always enjoyed his playing so I’m looking forward to that; I have a really nice trio called In & Out Trio with Paul Baxter (double bass) and Stuart MacDonald (tenor sax) who will be touring in June, playing Jazz standards in a fashion more akin to the second Miles Davis Quintet; and also, I will be visiting France to play the Nantes Jazz festival, and a few other shows, in May with Misha Gray’s Prehistoric Jazz Quintet.
It’s going to be a good year!
Last week was the first ever Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival organised by a great team of people led by Daniel Spicer. It was an incredible line-up of musicians over two days, focusing on the more progressive Jazz. Both days sold out. It was a really special event to be a part of; performing with Corey Mwamba and Dave Kane in their trio, Yana, and just being surrounded by incredible musicians all day. It was a bit intimidating arriving at the venue and running into brilliant drummers around every corner!
There was a great atmosphere and amazing music; I’m really looking forward to it again next year!
In other news, the monthly large ensemble residency at the Wonder Inn, the Manchester Jazz Collective, have just been into the studio to record. It was a good session and I hope it’ll be available for people to listen to soon. I’ve also been in the studio recording for Tom Thorp’s group, Mercury. I enjoy playing music that’s very different to what I usually do, especially when it’s with lovely people! Here’s a video of one of the tracks.
Last week, Jazz North sent the Anton Hunter Trio to Paris along with Ben Cottrell and Cath Roberts for a cross-channel collaboration between Efpi Records and Onze Heures Onze. We spent the first day with Julien Pontvianne and Alexandre Herer from OHO, improvising and playing around with various compositions that each of us brought along. On the second day, I played at le Studio de l’Hermitage with Anton’s trio alongside three incredible musicians, Jozef Dumoulin (solo Rhodes and effects) and Donkey Monkey (Eve Risser and Yuko Oshima).
We were looked after so well whilst we were over there and everyone we met was really friendly and helpful. I’m really looking forward to OHO’s visit to the UK this August where we’ll play together again at this year’s Manchester Jazz Festival.
Also, the two weeks before we went to France, I enjoyed playing a run of gigs around the North of England with the incredibly talented Paris-based guitarist/composer, and genuinely lovely person, Hugo Corbin. It’s always great fun playing in his group, he writes good (and challenging…) music and is a great improviser too, I can’t wait to do it again in the future!
We recorded an album with the Dub Jazz Soundsystem almost two years ago and I’ve just heard it for the first time. It sounds great! Gripper Newby and Rob Dunphy from Sonic Zoo Industries have done an amazing job with it.
Have a listen!
During the second half the 2014, I did a lot of recording with various different groups and around Christmas, my inbox was flooded with various mixes of several of the projects. It looks like it’s going to be an exciting year with many different albums all due to be released at some point.
The Spirit Farm (Slam) – Adam Fairhall (piano), Christophe de Bezenac (tenor sax), Corey Mwamba (vibes), Anton Hunter (guitar), Dave Kane (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums)
Article XI (Efpi Records) – Anton Hunter (guitar), Graham South and Nick Walters (trumpet), Richard Foote and Seth Bennett (trombone), Mette Rasmussen (alto sax), Sam Andreae (tenor sax), Cath Roberts (baritone sax), Eero Tikkanen (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums)
Johnny Hunter Quartet ‘WHILE WE STILL CAN’ (Efpi Records)- Graham South (trumpet), Ben Watte (tenor sax), Stewart Wilson (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums)
Engine Room Favourites ‘BAD TIDINGS FROM SLACKWATER DRAG’ (Discus) – Martin Archer (sopranino, alto & baritone sax, bass recorder), Mick Beck (tenor sax & bassoon), Laura Cole (piano), Corey Mwamba (vibes), Graham Clark (violin), Seth Bennett (bass), Peter Fairclough, Walt Shaw, Johnny Hunter, Steve Dinsdale (percussion) – http://discus-music.co.uk/dis50cd.htm
Nat Birchall Quintet (Jazzman Records) – Nat Birchall (tenor & soprano sax), Adam Fairhall (piano), Tim Fairhall (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums), Christian Weaver (percussion) with guest John Ellis (Hammond organ)
Fragments – Adam Fairhall (piano), Seth Bennett (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums)
Marley Chingus/Misha Gray Quintet – Bob Whittaker (tenor sax), Misha Gray (piano), Hugo Harrison (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums), Nick Walters (trumpet), Kyran Matthews (tenor sax)
Angie King – Angie King (vocals) with John King (guitar) and Matt Owens (double bass)
Martin Archer ‘GO HEAVY’ (Discus) – percussion quartet, string quartet, vocal quartet, with Philip Thomas (piano) and Simon Fell (double bass)
Also, there are plans for recording the next Skamel album, ‘C’EST UN SAFARI’, and I have the next three Johnny Hunter Quartet albums planned out which we have already started work on. As well as these, I am going to be focussing on Fragments, with Adam Fairhall and Sethh Bennett, and a new trio with Sam Andreae and Dave Kane. It’s going to be a good year!
My tour with the quartet went well this month! We had a great time playing and hanging out together, and it was really nice to get to many different cities to play for loads of lovely people who’d never heard us before. We were promoting the upcoming release of our new album “While We Still Can”.
In the middle of the tour I had two days of recording with Nat Birchall for his new album, and an afternoon demo-ing some tunes for Kyran Matthews Quartet, with Paul Baxter and David Austin Grey. I’ve heard them both, and they’re sounding great! I’m excited to see what happens with them.
Just after the quartet tour finished, I was down in London to play a lovely gig at Jazz in the Round, the Cockpit, with Nat’s Quintet. There was also a quality set from Leafcutter John and another from Andreas Schaerer! Whilst I was in London, I also managed to get to see some of Jazz festival; a double bill of Charles Lloyd (with Eric Harland!), and Dave Douglas/Joe Lovano group (with Joey Baron! And Linda Oh!).
I spent so long organising the tour and getting my new quartet album finished, and it has gotten close to Christmas, that it now feels like I’m done for the year, although I’ve still got some nice gigs coming up (with Engine Room Favourites on 27 Nov, Mark Hanslip on 30 Nov, and Fragments on 18 Dec) and I’ll be recording with Fragments, Marley Chingus and Misha Gray’s quintet in December, so still lots going on.
November tour dates! Generously supported by Jazz Services!
|Nov 06||LUME, London – 8pm||£5|
|Nov 09||Hillary Step, Manchester – 8.30pm||FREE|
|Nov 15||Zeffirellis, Ambleside – 8.30pm||FREE|
|Nov 16||Seven Jazz, Leeds – 1pm||£7/5|
|Nov 16||Splinter Jazz, Newcastle – 7.30pm||£6|
|Nov 18||Spotted Dog, Birmingham – 9pm||FREE|
|Nov 19||Lescar, Sheffield – 8.30pm||£5|
|Nov 20||Matt & Phred’s, Manchester – 9pm||FREE|
|Nov 21||Caledonia, Liverpool – 9pm||FREE|
I am touring with my quartet again in November and I am very happy that Jazz Services are able to help me with it! For those of you who don’t know, Jazz Services is an invaluable charitable support organisation for Jazz music, promoting its growth and development and offering services on touring, recording, information, international support, education and communications, publishing and promotion; they do so much for the UK Jazz scene by helping musicians, promoters and audiences across the country. Unfortunately, they have recently found out that they will not be receiving any more funding from Arts Council England after March 2015. This is devastating news for the Jazz community as the comparatively tiny amount of money made such a huge difference for many musicians and promoters who are trying to keep music live. Please sign the petition here, and there is also a Facebook group that you should “like”.
The Jazz Festival started a few days ago and it’s already been great! I’m really disappointed to have missed loads of great stuff, but it’s bound to happen when there’s so much happening. Here’s just a few of the groups that caught my eye but there is so much more: Pigfoot (Sat 19), Adam Fairhall’s Imaginary Delta (Tue 22) and his solo performance (Mon 21), the Dead Hedge Trio (Tue 22), The Great Mountain (Wed 23), Jonathan Silk’s Big Band (Wed 23), Silence Blossoms (Wed 23), and of course, Beats & Pieces (Fri 25). Check the listings on the website (http://www.manchesterjazz.com).
With regards my own gigs, I was very happy that my Quartet was chosen to play for the BBC Introducing Showcase at the Band on the Wall on Friday 18th along with the Moss Project, Brassy B and the Peter Edwards Trio. The whole concert will be broadcast on Monday 28 July on Jazz on 3, BBC Radio 3, at 11pm.
I’m also excited to be playing in my brother’s MJF Originals commission (6pm on Thursday 24 July at the Central Library), the Nat Birchall quintet (7.30pm on Wednesday 23 July at Band on the Wall), and Engine Room Favourites (5pm on Thursday 24 July at teh Festival Pavillion).
See you there at the Festival Square!