June 21st 2017 – SUMIC news for June
It’s been a while since the last update, not because there’s been nothing happening, but because it’s been a bit busy on all fronts – but I do have some news to report.
In my last update I mentioned some new improvised music – this is completed and will be made available at some point, maybe later this year, so keep an ear out for that.
Also, I’m pleased to say that, apart from a couple of finishing touches, a good chunk of my next album is almost complete. Listening to the pieces in question, I find it a little hard to believe how many hours have been dedicated to them already, sometimes it really does take an awfully long time to create a few minutes of music. On the other hand, I’m really pleased with them. In many ways it’s been a bit of a frustrating time (when is being a musician NOT frustrating?) but when you finally get to see progress and the end result, it does make it all worth it.
Hopefully my next update won’t take quite so long.
March 20th 2017 – SUMIC news for March
So here I was trying to stay focussed on the follow-up to ‘Rekindled’. No chance!
Another new composition has been penned and scored, and I now find myself neck-deep in some fresh improvisations. After a VERY busy month with my day job, I was looking to pick up where I left off, but no, some very insistent thoughts kind-of forced my hand and I find myself in the world of improv again.
You may recall my EP from late last year, ‘Jupiter Wrens’. There had been plenty previous practice but no worthy results in my opinion, then something just ‘clicked’ and there it was. I then found myself mulling over a couple of thoughts regarding trying to channel the same energies, but this time with a much clearer picture of how to approach it. So I’ve made a start, and it’s working just the way I hoped it would. The same approach, which is no prior musical thoughts whatsoever, just start playing until I find a start point that I like, then start to record and then multi-track record more layers as necessary until it feels finished, reacting to what I’ve previously just played in the next layer of the recording. This is composition on-the-fly, starting with nothing and finishing with a piece of music. It’s a very exciting and immersive experience, so no wonder it’s dragged me back!
I hope that these recordings will see the light of day eventually, but in the meantime, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, and if you’ve not heard ‘Jupiter Wrens’, then head over to:
and treat your ears to something a little bit different!
February 13th 2017 – SUMIC news for February
Well, to say that things have been a bit hectic on the personal/non-musical front would be a slight understatement, so I thought there wouldn’t be too much to report. Not so it seems.
Clarinet player and composer extraordinaire Andrew Ciccone and myself have been working up a few pieces since late last year. Once we’d got as couple of the simpler tunes together we went up to the Oxford Folk Club http://www.oxfordfolkclub.com to play them live and it went really well. That was in November (and is a feature of an earlier blog entry further down this page). Since then we’ve spent a bit of time working up some more material and now we’re at the stage of wanting to go and play a bit more. So this Friday, 17th February, we’re going back up to the Oxford Folk Club to play, and we’re really looking forward to it.
Here’s a still from one of our rehearsal videos.
As well as this, work is (of course) continuing on the follow-up to last year’s ‘Rekindled’ album. I’m very pleased to report that a way forward is revealing itself, and so far things are progressing nicely. I think (though truly you never can tell) that there’s going to be enough things happening in the new recordings to be familiar to fans of ‘Rekindled’, and yet there’s going to be new things happening too. When it comes to composing and recording, my ultimate aim is to not repeat myself, so I’m looking to take things on to the next stage (whatever that may be) but not lose the parts of the process that make what I do unique to me. It’ll be a fine line to walk for sure.
SUMIC – Year in review 2016
What a good year it’s been for SUMIC, and I really mean that. It’s only when I’ve stopped to look back and take stock that I realise just how much has been achieved.
At the start of the year I was putting the finishing touches to the ‘Rekindled’ album, preparing the artwork and then getting it printed up and getting it out there. The response to the album has been so good, it really has, and so I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me this year by buying the album, it really does mean a lot to me to have this kind of support for what I do.
On top of that, later on in the year I also put out some improvised music, the ‘Jupiter Wrens’ EP. Three pieces of music, played and recorded over three days, it’s a bit different to ‘Rekindled’ but still very much SUMIC music, so if you’ve not heard it yet, check it out on my Bandcamp page.
Somehow, I’ve also managed to write almost an album’s worth of new material, which is more than I’d anticipated given the other activities previously mentioned, and of course a very busy job which naturally takes up a lot of my time.
I also managed (finally!) to get the SUMIC website up and running. This is still a bit of a work in progress, and I intend to keep adding to it as time goes on, but the basics are now in place at least. And to cap it all, new recordings for the next SUMIC album are also underway. It’s very early days for the new album and the release is a long way off, but already some things are starting to take shape.
So 2016 has been a busy year, and if 2017 is anywhere near as good then I’ll be a very happy man. So thank you again, and let me wish everyone a happy and fulfilling 2017.
December 19th 2016 – SUMIC News for December
Well, I’d love to say that I’ve been very busy musically and that I’ve achieved a lot this month, but that would be a total lie! It’s the busiest time of year for me at work, so not an awful lot has been achieved in truth.
That said, I have started work on a new composition, which (typically) I was intending to be something quite specific, but it somehow ended up heading off in a completely different direction. It sounds good so far though!
I have just finished reading the biography of Robert Wyatt, one of the most distinctive musicians ever, and what an excellent book it is, well recommended.
There’ll be another update here before the end of the year, when I’ll write a little ‘year in review’ to sum up 2016, so stay tuned!
November 21st 2016
Some thoughts on the weekend’s two live performances I attended during the London Jazz Festival.
In particular I’m intrigued by the similarities of the performers Mike Westbrook and Carla Bley.
Both are now into their eighties, both play piano and both are rightly regarded as great composers. Watching Carla conduct the Liberation Music Orchestra last night, and watching Westbrook’s solo piano performance on Saturday afternoon, I have been filled with a renewed sense of the benefits of purpose and living a creative life – clearly Mike and Carla love doing what they do just as much as they ever did. It’s something I’ve endeavoured to do for a considerable part of my life now, and watching these guys just re-affirms it.
In other news, work is progressing on new recordings for the next SUMIC album. It’s a slow process, and I’m never 100% sure how things are going to turn out, but that just adds an edge to the process. I have to say that I’m very pleased with what’s happening so far. As ever, I’m looking to take what I’ve learned a step further and make a better album than the previous one. Given how well ‘Rekindled’ has been received this year, it adds a nice bit of pressure to ‘deliver the goods’, which is relatively new territory for me, but I’m up for the challenge!
November 10th 2016
I started writing a new score, but the brain isn’t up to it this evening – it’s a particularly tricky combination of rhythm and a very idiosyncratic melody. At least I’ve worked out some of the bits that DON’T work though!
So it’s time for some reading instead. I was about to start on Alan Moore’s new epic ‘Jerusalem’ this week, but then the new Ben Aaronovitch book ‘The Hanging Tree’ dropped through my door, so I HAD to read that straight away. It’s a real page-turner and I’ve polished it off in no time, so now it’s time for ‘Jerusalem’.
I must say – the text is formidably small, and it’s a HUGE book (three books actually) – this is going to be a big effort.
November 4th 2016
A first public outing for a new musical duo, as I headed out to play a few SUMIC tunes at the Oxford Folk Club this Friday night with the clarinetmeister Andrew Ciccone.
We’ve not been working together long, and we’ve been working at figuring out how we can perform our respective outputs with a smaller musical palette. Naturally, we’ve started with the simpler material (mine! – Andrew’s musical output is often significantly more complex), so last night we performed ‘The Hall of the Bright Carvings’ and ‘Starlight’ from my ‘Rekindled’ album, and ‘The High Hoose’ from ‘(all things) bleak and beautiful’.
We also got to hear a great range of material from the other performers – Scottish, Scandinavian, American and much more. It’s a very nice performance space, so we’ll look forward to getting back there at some point soon.
Hopefully I can source a picture or two at some point too!
November 1st 2016
To all of you reading this, welcome to the SUMIC website, where you’ll find details of all of my musical activities, and to this, my blog, which will be kept regularly updated, so please check back regularly!