A Magically Forested Evening at Charlie Wright’s

So last week, I was playing with a new jazzy venture: a quintet known variously as The Men With No Name, 9 Hands, and 3 Mikes and 2 Fags (the latter caught on alarmingly well). Featuring my own brother Hugo Fagandini on drums, and the Michaels Powell, Cearns and Roberts on tenor sax, piano and bass respectively, it was something we’d wanted to do for a while in a slightly more official capacity, so when the opportunity came to play at Charlie Wright’s in Hoxton alongside More Ice and Honey and Amy Heasman, well, we jumped at the chance.

We knew it was going to be a cracking evening the moment we walked in and were greeted by an alto saxophone at the bar, converted into an Asahi beer tap. Jazz and beer? Now we’re talking. After a little scurrying around to locate a hi-hat stand for the drum kit (thanks go to the kind staff at The George and Vulture down the road) and a brisk sound-check, we were ready to kick off the event.

The talented Amy Heasman – who would later sing with us – opened the night, accompanied by piano and providing a delightfully warm set featuring tunes like Fever and Someone to Watch Over Me. Seriously, go check her stuff out on YouTube and things, she’s good.

After Amy’s marvellous performance The Men With Some Names could consider the crowd pretty well warmed up for our own jazzy offerings. As well as a mix of original tunes (penned by Hugo, with more from other band members to come) and other numbers designed to lead the audience slightly off the beaten track of jazz – including Miles Davis’ Seven Steps to Heaven and the classic On A Slow Boat to China –  we collaborated with three lovely singers: Amy, singing Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, Lyubov Pronina who sang Peggy Lee’s Don’t Know Enough About You, and the talented organiser and promoter herself, Elena Dana, with the classic All Of Me – with a latin twist.

Also, we occasionally turn into illustrations and have adventures.

Also, we occasionally turn into illustrations and have adventures.

But it was More Ice and Honey, with their genre-defying (unless acoustic/jazz/folk/indie/awesome is a legitimate genre, which it may well be in this age of anti-folk and pseudo-metal post-modernist hip-hop) and unreasonably catchy music, that really tamed the crowd. The first half an hour or so entailed their vocalist Natalie and guitarist Ivan delighting onlookers with gypsy-jazz versions of standards, and when the full band took the stage, they took off with original numbers like Racecar and Forgive Me. It’s an unusual set up, with vocals, guitar, piano, alto sax, cello and percussion, but damn, do they ever make it work.

More Ice and Honey on stage at Charlie Wright's

More Ice and Honey on stage at Charlie Wright’s

The Men With An Undisclosed Amount Of Names will be returning to Charlie Wright’s at the end of May, alongside a line-up of great singer-songwriters and UCL’s musical comedy troupe, The Wrong People. So come check all that out. You won’t be disappointed.

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The Two Rules Big Band

Well, many moons after my initial vague mention of it, the Two Rules Big Band is totally now a thing. A full 17-piece big band plus a number of awesome vocalists, playing more jazzy goodness than your little hearts can handle.

Future performances are being organised, so watch this space. In the meantime, check this out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hImkRQQv5uY

Don’t forget to tell your friends!

Site Update

Now, the clever ones amongst you may have noticed something a little different about the site as of today. A new haircut? Different tie? Nope, I just decided to give it a bit of an overhaul, with a new theme and some pictures and that just to brighten the place up a bit.

I’ve also updated a number of the pages, like the Associates and Bands sections. Go check ’em out!

Oh, and anyone wondering what the deuce ‘The Two Rules Big Band’ is…well, that’s a secret.

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.

The Boat Race Swimmer

I know, it’s been a long while. I’ll save excuses for when I have more time, but I wanted to get down my thoughts on the protestor of the Oxbridge Boat Race while I’m still staring in mildly-amused disbelief at his website.

Before anything else, I want to say that I do get it to an extent – elitism and the void between classes is a big problem in our society. There’s little doubt it’s driving a lot of the less popular legislation that the Coalition is pushing through Parliament. And if you’re going to protest something like that, well, a pseudo-competitive event between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge – no doubt steeped in tradition and monocles and top hats galore – is, in theory, the perfect place.

Still, the whole thing seemed a bit…trivial. I’m still a little uncertain of what exactly Oldfield intended to accomplish by it, other than getting an oar in the face. Sure, now we know his name, and he certainly livened up an event that might not otherwise have exactly set pulses a-racing (pun unintended, for once). But I fail to see how his cause has benefited. Elitism runs rampant in the Oxbridge system and across the country? Get outta here. Seriously, we know already. And I don’t see anyone rushing to arm themselves over it because this one chap decided to take a dip in the river in the middle of a race. Perhaps I’m missing the point, and I’m sure my more politically-minded friends will be quick to hammer it home if I have.

Still. I don’t have much more to say on the subject, but would like to point out some of the suggestions he makes on his website to contribute to the ‘civil disobedience’ and ‘guerilla tactics’ that he feels will win this war on the oppressed masses.

  • ‘[If working for a corporation or government department]…work slowly, make mistakes, loose [sic] documents, sending large documents to clog up email accounts.’ – Ideal! Keep it up and you’ll be out on your arse by dinner. Being deliberately incompetent isn’t going to change the world, it’ll just get you fired.
  • ‘If you clean the bathroom of someone that considers themselves elite or is an elite sympathiser, like a right wing professor, can you never put loo paper in their bathroom?’ – That’ll learn ’em!
  • ‘If you work in a restaurant where elitists eat, can you serve the food once it is cold or cook the wrong food?’ – What a good thing that our restaurant workers so hate receiving tips.
  • ‘If you are a builder repairing the house of an elitist can you also bug it and share the footage and audio online?’ – Holy crap. Is this…is this any sort of legal?

Alright, so I’m giving him a bit of a hard time here. In the interests of fairness, I’ll highly some of his suggestions I actually quite like too:

  • ‘Can you take up the time of a ‘VIP’ you work for by arranging time consuming meetings, asking as many questions as possible? Can you make them late?’
  • ‘If you work in a call centre, can you refund people and find the best discounts?’
  • ‘If you are a student and attend a talk, can you challenge the professors? Can you take the stage and highlight to the audience the work they have done in contrast to academia?’
  • ‘If you have a tow truck company can you park in front of Nick Clegg or David Cameron’s driveway, accidentaly? Could you tow their car away?’ – I don’t actually think this is doable, but I do think it’d be really rather hilarious. Make it happen!

And that’s possibly enough of that for now. Watch closely for news of upcoming gigs – the summer draws near, and I should have more time to update (he said optimistically…).

Freedom

Exams are over and I have a brief window of freedom before I’m tied down with rehearsals and concerts in the upcoming couple of weeks. So, I decided to pick up L.A. Noire, the new detective-’em-up from Rockstar Games. Short story: I love it, it’s great.

The facial animation technology for which people have been foaming at the mouth is…well, let’s just say it deserves the attention. It’s a key part of the gameplay too – a hefty chunk of your time is spent interviewing witnesses and suspects, and you can inspect the facial tics and tells that will betray a liar. It’s an ingenious mechanic.

What I found funny is that it’s not necessarily the type of game you’d expect from Rockstar, famous for the Grand Theft Auto titles. It’s refreshing to see games like this and Red Dead Redemption (which is arguably a Wild West GTA but still a great game, different enough in its way) coming from the studio. I loved GTA 4 but it’s nice to see a little variety.

Anyway. I’m making the most of my freedom while it lasts, because rehearsals start tomorrow for the UCL Summer Ball, followed by a smaller quintet gig, the Musical Theatre society gala and various gigs with Down for the Count.

You can see why I enjoy the time off.

Minor Updates

A quick mid-exams update (four down, one to go!) – I’ve added the wondrous Max Holloway to the Associates page, along with a link to his and Alex Goodall’s current project involving alcohol and DIY (what could be better?). Hit him up if you want a class tenor sax player for anything, you won’t be disappointed.

Hasta mañana! Or something.