Afternoon/Evening drum fans!
May has been a busy and rocking month in drum land. On the jazz front there was lots of good fun. Firstly I enjoyed playing drums for Stephen Duffy, the host of BBC Scotland’s Jazz House Programme. Stephen is a fantastic singer and has a lovely take on some standards which we played in Whighams Wine Cellar, in Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to working with him for his Glasgow Jazz Festival performance celebrating Billy Strayhorn and Billie Holiday, alongside Jay Kilbride and Euan Stevenson. It promises to be swinging, fun and feature some beautiful music.
I also had the chance to play with RCS alumni friends Jay Kilbride and Scott Murphy, with pianist Charles Lyall playing some great music composed by Jay, Scott and dare say it, myself. The music is in the ECM vein, mostly straight eight based jazz. We played two gigs, on in the Edinburgh Jazz Bar and the other in the Glasgow Art Club. The houses were attentive and appreciative of different music it was nice to play this kind of music as I haven’t for a while now. The band interaction was strong and I look forward to doing it again. We have a gig pencilled in for September 17th in The Blue Lamp in Aberdeen.
I also had the luxury of launching my ‘Grounded‘ album with my Connected band, once again at the Glasgow Art Club. Much like the Jay Kilbride Quartet gigs, the show was presented in association with Bridge Jazz and was a personal resounding success. A decent number of people turned out to see the band and were very receptive of the music performed for them. I had Scott Murphy on Tenor Sax and he played beautifully as did Euan and Stephen respectively. We played the entire ‘Grounded’ album, plus a collection of newer music that I had written for the band and the occasion. Some videos can be seen here. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some of the newer music recorded in the near future for people to have a listen to.
In Hercules Mandarin news, we took part again in the annual Montrose Musical festival. The festival is always very welcoming to us and this year was no exception. We played two gigs in rapid succession in The Black Abbot and The Market Arms where the crowds were busy, receptive and bought some music which is always a nice experience. The album is moving closer to seeing the light of day with Mastering as the next process before we release it. Really excited about this record as it sees the band, at what I think, is its strongest yet. The music is great and it sounds really strong also. Fun times ahead.
I spent most of April and May working with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland within the Musical Theatre dept. and in particular, delivering classes to the M.A. M.D. students. We covered a collection of topics – from styles, to time keeping issues, to arranging and even the odd drum lesson for them. It was rewarding for both them and myself as I’ve never really been put in this position before so the challenge was relished. From there, I ran the band for the M.A. MT Candid Cabarets in Sloans. The annual event ran by the department is always a success and the music is always fun to play and is usually more in the pop vein.
photo – Dustin Struhall
The event was successfully attended and received with the performers really pulled the stops in order to make their stories and songs work. The MDs worked tirelessly in order to aid the process and a lot of fun was had and it was rewarding to see the work we’d covered in class, being put into practice. Personally the running of the band was a new experience and involved spinning a lot of plates in order to make sure all the chairs were covered for rehearsals and performances but I relished it and working within the department, even for just a few weeks was lots of fun.
I’m still loving the teaching that Drummers Only is bringing for me, with some students now working towards their graded exams and others just enjoying personal growth in their lessons. Long may it continue. A new paradiddle lesson which I filmed is available to watch on the Lessons page. Hopefully some more short lessons coming your way soon.
Til next time