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.

Diamonds are La Voix’s Best Friend

In case you missed the violence-inducing number of status updates and tweets I inflicted upon the general public this weekend, I spent my Saturday playing with the London Gay Big Band and La Voix on ITV’s televised talent trap, Britain’s Got Talent. I’ll be the first to admit that I generally steer clear of this particular brand of TV – I normally catch the highlights (or more commonly, the lowlights) of BGT about a year down the line, at which point I question how some of these acts were even allowed on TV, let alone made it to the semi-finals. I take little pleasure from the schadenfreude of seeing abjectly terrible singers get ripped a new one by Simon Cowell on X Factor or American Idol. I don’t even understand why things like Next Top Model are a thing. And I would rather gouge out my eyes with a rusty spoon than watch TOWIE. I have a very strong and vocal dislike of reality television, is what I’m saying.

But in all honesty, Saturday was an absolute ball. BGT had already gone up in my esteem for having a class act like the LGBB through for the semi-finals, and all the other contestants there were genuinely lovely to meet. The production team were professional and friendly like you wouldn’t believe. The judges had nothing but good things to say about us (even the infamous fuhrer of reality TV, Simon Cowell himself) and even though we didn’t go through to the final, the two acts who did (the fantastic Jack Pack and Paddy and Nico – hell, even I wanted to vote for them) were absolutely great, and deserved every single vote they got. Nice.

In fact, the response to acts like the LGBB and Jack Pack is really great – we all know that swing music is enjoying something of a renaissance, with groups like Swing Patrol taking us back to the roaring 20s, 30s and 40s, that golden era of hot swing jazz, but seeing groups such as these go so far on national television and get such a positive reaction from the general public…well. It’s nice to see people enjoying it, you know?

At the end of the day, we had a great time on Saturday – a big thank you goes out to everyone who watched and voted, and even though we didn’t make it through to the final, at the end of the day, we played awesome jazz music on national television in front of like 11 million people. So that’s pretty cool.

Speaking of swing music, though, Down for the Count is heading up their very own swing festival in September! Rhythm Junction London will be hitting up Hackney on 13th September, and tickets have just gone on sale – the first 50 or so are discounted, so get on that now!

In other musical news, this week will mostly be comprised of rehearsal for upcoming show Rock the Jazz-bah, back at UCL. The premise is jazzed-up versions of popular songs. How can you go wrong with that? They’ve got stuff by Postmodern Jukebox and Jimmy Fallon’s Ragtime Gals on offer, along with plenty else. I’ve done a number of arrangements for this one, including a samba version of Gangnam Style, a bossa medley featuring Lady Gaga, Earth Wind & Fire, The Beatles and Maroon 5, and a kick-ass neo-ragtime (which is apparently a thing) version of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy. So come on down! It’ll be hella fun. Sunday 8th June, 7pm, in Mully’s Basement Bar on the corner of Gower Street – right by Euston Square, convenient!

Alright, Max out. I’ll see you all…on Sunday.

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.

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.

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!