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.

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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.