Wednesday 25 November 2015

The Uncommon Orchestra - " A bigger show"

 I've just received my copy of Mike Westbrook's Uncommon Orchestra's new album "A bigger show live". It was recorded at the Barnfield Theatre in my home town of Exeter on 30th July 2015, and in order to fund it Mike Westbrook asked individuals and organisations to become patrons to allow the work to be recorded. The resultant double CD was recorded 'live' by Miles Ashton and Jon Hiseman, and is a pretty faithful version of the events of that night (or so I'm told!).
  Thankfully there is audience noise, but (also) thankfully it's devoid of the kind of whooping and hollerin' that seems to mar so many U.S. based live recordings. It must have been a fairly difficult event to engineer given the size of the venue and the fact that 22 piece jazz orchestras tend to take up an enormous amount of space and require careful balancing of the disparate instruments. The result is out there, and if you weren't one of the patrons I'm sure that if you get in touch with Mike at he'd be more than willing to sell you a copy. I'm pleased that The Edge of Jazz is a patron, and if the opportunity arises again to sponsor another 'live' album by one of our local bands the show would be happy to oblige. Indeed at the time of writing we're just setting up a series of sessions for broadcasting on Phonic.FM which we hope will capture some more of the local jazz musicians, or some of the transitory talent that floats through Exeter from time to time - this in conjunction with our friends at Sound Gallery Studios just down the corridor from us in the bowels of the Exeter Phoenix.
 Finally, I thought it was going to be a fairly easy task to choose the Top 10 albums of the year, but at the time of writing material that is begging for inclusion continues to flow in. I've already said that the show of the year for me was Partikel at St Lawrence's Chapel in Ashburton, and that against the background of the plethora of talent that was at The Love Supreme Festival, and my carefully chosen gigs from the London Jazz Festival. Strange it should have been in my own backyard!
 Next time the album list, and if you're wondering to whom it matters, the answer is "Me"!

Thursday 12 November 2015

Mid November already!

I love it that 20 miles from where I live in the centre of Exeter there are the stirrings of what could be a really exciting arts development. Ashburton is currently home to one of the most diverse musical "scenes" that you could wish to find. It already has a very small, but beautifully formed venue in St Laurence Chapel, and there a mighty attractive set of smaller events (often on a Sunday afternoon) at the lovely Royal Oak pub. However, tentative plans are afoot to buy and covert the wonderful Methodist Church that sits on the main road through the town. At the moment the plans are embryonic, but developing, and the Congregation are keen that the building should continue to be a community asset.
It really is worth putting "Ashburton live" into a search engine and finding out more (they also tweet @ashburtonlive). I think it would be really exciting if it gets funding and gets off the ground. As an aside the best gig (bar none) that I've been to this year was the Partikel gig at the Chapel.
There have been a plethora of new albums in the last month, and finding time to fit them all into the show has, at times, been problematic. I'll write a little more about some of them ahead of the annual task of trying to build a top 10 albums of the year. I'm pleased to say that I think the majority will be either British of European in origin, which either says something about the relative paucity of new U.S. Jazz musicians, which I think is unlikely- I think it must be that the major labels are abandoning anybody that doesn't fit the cloning instincts of their accountants!