Interesting Things

It’s been all go here at Fagandini Mansions lately.

The biggest, most excellent thing of all the things has of course been the launch of the Happy Hour Collective! We had our launch party on Monday at The Miller in London Bridge, and it went swimmingly. The response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive, and we all had a great time. It was very gratifying to see the payoff for all the work we’d put in over the last few months. And thanks to the wonderful and excellent Callum Gillies, we have the whole thing caught on camera for posterity. We’ll be putting that up when it’s ready, but in the meantime you can catch the Martinis doing a couple of Disney-themed shows for Take A Seat Events at the end of November. And as always, if you’re interested in booking the HHC, drop us a line – we’re offering a 20% discount on all bookings until the end of the year!

In other news, you can also catch me with Down for the Count at the Bishopsgate Institute next weekend – as well as playing at Swing Patrol’s Super Swing Pit on Sunday 23rd, we’ll also be there for the BI’s 120th Anniversary ball on Friday 21st! And if you’re based up in Scotland, we’ll be trekking up to Edinburgh on Friday 28th November for another Swing Patrol ball – see you there!

For something a little more chilled out, stop by the Big Chill House on Pentonville Road this coming Tuesday (18th) to catch the ULU Quantet, a quantity of musicians featuring myself on trumpet and vocals! I mean really, what more could you ask for.

Anyway! That’s about all for now, we’ll see you soon. Stay in school.

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It’s Happy Hour!

Ah, time for the quarterly update to the old blog. But with big news!

You’ll recall the show I mentioned last time, Rock the Jazz-bah, with their jazzy arrangements of your popular songs and your Gangnam Styles and the like. Well, I’m taking that idea and running with it, in the creation of the Happy Hour Collective (Facebook here, Twitter here, website to follow soon), a collaboration of (for now) three different groups: a revamped, rebranded Martinis (a new band in all but name), the Bloody Mary Brass Band, and the Brandy Alexanders. If you fancy checking it out (hint: you do), our launch party will be at The Miller, London Bridge, on November 10th! Details here.

And that’s not all! The 29th October brings a classy jazz jam night at Big Chill Shoreditch, hosted by the ULU Jazz Society, and also me. Come on down and check it out, it should be a blast!

And that’s not all! Down for the Count are, as ever, going from strength to strength, and you can catch us at various swing gigs over the next few months, including a monthly slot at the Super Swing Pit at Bishopsgate Institute (the next one of which is on October 19th, so get those dancing shoes on). On top of that, our excellent swing festival Rhythm Junction London went off without a hitch back in September, so keep an eye out for a reprise of that puppy some time in the future.

And that’s not all! Back in August I did some recording with a fella called Paul Carella, laying down some horn stuff on a few of his tracks for his upcoming EP. Well, as well as Paul just being a top guy, we’re shooting some video this weekend, and then he’ll be launching his EP on 7th November at Twickenham Theatre. Be there!

And that’s not all! I also updated the website, including the Bands page with details of the HHC and the excellent Equinox Quintet.

…That’s all.

Catapulted into the Real World

University life now sits behind me, a sort of hazy fever-dream of sex, drugs and rock and roll gigs, coffee and the occasional bit of work, and with that I find myself chucked out the door onto the Sidewalk of Reality, like an unruly drunkard at closing time at the Pub of Life. Stripped of the warm embrace of the education system (haha?) I stumble onwards, and turn towards that one thing that’s generally guided my way in times of strife: music.

Enjoying continued work with my good friends at Down for the Count and seeking out further opportunities with The Martinis (and yes, our album is still to come – I’ve put up some samples for your aural pleasure) are the main plans, supplemented by further work as a session musician, instrumental teacher and band leader. The creation of a big band is another project, following the discovery of a DVD-R full of charts long thought lost to the abyss while clearing out my room at home (OK, Mum, being tidy does have its merits I suppose). I’m also going along to my first rehearsal with the amazingly-named King Groovy and The Horn Stars on Thursday, so that ought to be fun.

At the advice of my stalwart and talented friend Claire Waterhouse I’ve also put myself out on this Internet thing, with profiles at UK Music Jobs and StarNow, so feel free to stop by those pages if you want to give me some work/fancy a laugh. They are both in progress, so don’t be put off by any lack of photos or anything at the moment. That will be rectified.

As always, I’m always happy to hear from potential clients so don’t hesitate to get in touch through the website too.

In other news, as well as the upcoming Martinis CD, there are also new albums from both Down for the Count AND The Emily Tree to look forward to in the next couple of months! Goodness me, what lucky people you all are. If buying music and supporting local artists isn’t your thing (and if it isn’t then your morals are bad and you should feel bad), then check out some of our upcoming live performances, including The Emily Tree playing at Candied Nonsense at The Wilmington Arms in Clerkenwell on August 2nd, and Down for the Count’s next gig at Winslow Public Hall on September 8th.

Until next time, my lieblings.

It’s Pelvis to be Rectangular

The Martinis headed over to The Bull’s Head this morning for a recording session and I have to say, it was great fun. It didn’t look good when I got to Vauxhall and discovered that 90% of the trains that I could get to Barnes were delayed by unspecified amounts of time owing to an incident at Clapham Junction, but we all got there in the end and actually only ended up starting a little later than I’d planned. We got 6 tracks down over the course of the morning and I’m very much looking forward to hearing the masterful Craig’s final mix. A big thanks to everyone involved, and watch this space for CD news!

I was thinking on the way home about different musicians’ approaches to these sorts of occasions. I’ve played with some people who deal with this sort of thing with an air of ‘professionalism’ that borders on suffocating – no laughs to be had there. At the other end of the spectrum you get some musicians who can’t really hack the organisation that has to go into these sessions – and there is an awful lot of stuff to be sorted out, both in advance of the session and when you’re actually in the studio – and end up losing sight of what they want to do. I like to think we hit a happy medium today: much banter was had and I got the feeling people were enjoying themselves, yet we approached the actual recording bits with such a real sense of thoughtful, concentrated musicianship that I can’t wait to hear the final mix. Nice one guys and gals.

What’s in the daily news? I’ll tell you what’s in the daily news…

So in the midst of revision, rehearsals and recordings I find the news (plastered across Facebook, Twitter and various other corners of the Interweb) about Osama bin Laden’s death. People seem to be equal parts thrilled and wary about it and I have to say, I can see why.

It is, of course, pretty great news – he was definitely a Bad Man and it’s good to see a conclusion to ten years of searching for him. And as an added bonus we have the pleasure of his death happening under Obama rather than George W Bush – one fears we might never have seen or heard the last of it from the American right if Dubya had been ‘responsible’ for the end of Osama.

But on the other hand we have two things to consider: firstly, bin Laden was not the sole thing binding Al-Quaeda together. Far from it. They’re still there, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were pretty pissed. I don’t want to come across as a crazy fearmonger but we should probably keep alert. Secondly, the end of bin Laden accomplishes one of the USA’s more concrete aims for their presence in the Middle East. So…what are they to do now? I sincerely doubt they’ll just up and leave. I think the next few weeks will be very telling.

I know, I know. ‘Quit it with the serious stuff!’ Well, on a lighter note, Down For The Count is taking to Don’t Tell Fred in East Sheen for a live gig this Friday (6th May), and the Martinis are heading to The Bull’s Head in Barnes for a recording session on Wednesday. Very exciting stuff. Watch this space for details of our CD!

Holiday Wishes

My my my, it’s certainly been a while. And what a while it’s been. Shows, gigs and whatnot galore, and now we get to settle down, maxin’ relaxin’ all cool (b-ball shooting outside of an educational institution optional). So before I launch into the inevitable winter festivity hogwash, a brief rundown of a couple of exciting things over the last term:

– Sax and the City, the UCLU Jazz Society Bloomsbury Theatre show back in November, was marvellous. Though not the sell-out spectacular we’d hoped for, the big band, jazz choir (the artist formerly known as vocal group), small groups and soloists all performed fantastically and had a great reception from the audience. From the screaming Gonna Fly Now (as recorded by Maynard Ferguson) to the more relaxed tunes like The Way You Look Tonight, to cheesy favourites like Soul Bossa Nova (from that one movie about that guy), it all looked and sounded tight as hell. And we even got the culmination of a year and a half’s worth of Anchorman jokes with a little rendition of Afternoon Delight. Groovy times.

– Anything Goes, this term’s musical, was simply sensational. Easily the best musical of which I’ve been a part, so kudos to UCLU Musical Theatre Society for that. And for their choice of the angel Gabriel too. I had a number of people tell me afterwards that it was West End standard, and a couple who even said it was better than the 2003 run – and that one had John Barrowman, so we must’ve been good.

– I stepped in for a recording with Down for the Count a month or two ago, and recently did another gig with them (at an RAF base of all places). The CD is sounding fab, so head on over to the website and order a copy or ten! Sadly it won’t be in time for Christmas, but hey, you don’t need an excuse like that to buy it right? Right.

So, before I depart to sleep soundly, eat too much and fret over an essay on the Satyricon (which is basically about sex), I wish you all happy holidays, a merry Winter-Solstice-Festival-Of-Your-Choosing and best wishes for 2011, which I hear is going to be a pretty sweet year all things considered, though sadly bereft of those novelty new year glasses it seems.

I’m On A Boat!

Sadly, despite the excitement of the title, my brief foray into nautical travel came to an end a few hours ago. We visited a lake here in Austria today, surrounded by very Sound of Music-esque mountain views, and took what turned out to be a bit of a hike around it to the other side before taking the boat back to where we started. I like to think that all this walking is doing me a world of good after two years of university took its toll on my metabolism, but I fear that may be a hollow hope.

The Hampton Court Beer and Jazz Festival is drawing near, and though I will sadly be away for much of it, I have no qualms in suggesting that others should head on over and make a day of it. With a line-up including the James Taylor Quartet, the Brand New Heavies and (a personal favourite of mine) Size Nine, and an enviable selection of beers, ciders and other drinks, it promises to be a ludicrously good day out. I might try and make it for the Monday. While you have your wallet out, you might as well buy tickets for the London Jazz Festival in November too.