Tag: arranging

Gig with Liane Carroll

Wow.  That was amazing.  Last Friday (31st January 2014) I had the privilege to lead Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra (CUJO) in a performance with multi award-winning jazz vocalist Liane Carroll at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge.  The house was packed, Liane was incredible and we got a standing ovation!

Credit: Johannes Hjorth.
Credit: Johannes Hjorth.

My co-director Chris McMurran and I had first thought to invite Liane to guest with us back in August of 2013, as we prepared for a new year of CUJO.  Every year, CUJO works with one top UK jazz musician for a special gig at West Road in January/February.  Previously we’ve had the likes of bassist Laurence Cottle (see previous posts here and here), Stan Sulzmann (sax), Gareth Lockrane (flute) and Steve Waterman (trumpet), so inviting a vocalist was a departure for us, but one which really paid off!  As well as her immense abilities as a vocal performer and improviser, Liane brought her skill as an entertainer, her sense of humour and her great energy, to everyone’s great delight, not least the band!  We were also able to perform pieces written by her, or in versions she has recorded, arranged for big band by Malcolm Edmonstone, Jorg Achim Keller, myself and Chris.

Credit: Johannes Hjorth
Credit: Johannes Hjorth

The gig was packed with memorable moments, from the funny to the tender.  Highlights for me included hearing my brand new arrangement of Liane’s beautiful composition “Dublin Morning” performed live for the first time, witnessing a concert hall full of people sing Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and playing an impromptu duet version of “My Funny Valentine” with Liane.  Not to mention Ben Jones’ (alto sax) comedy entrance, Liane’s jokes and taking pictures on stage, some fantastic soloing from members of CUJO…  All in all it’s an experience that will linger long in my memory.

So thanks to everyone who came to see the concert (especially as the weather was horrible), to CUJO for playing their hearts out and to Liane for being an inspiration and a pleasure to work with.  I’ll leave you with a few more excellent shots by Johannes Hjorth.



Performing with Liane Carroll this Friday

Liane Carroll with Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra
Friday 31st January, 7.30pm
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge CB3 9DP

Tickets £14 (full) / £6 (students, with ID, and under 18s) available from ADC Ticketing: http://www.adcticketing.com/whats-on/concert/liane-carroll-cambridge-university-jazz-orchestra or 01223 300085.

This Friday I will be directing CUJO in a performance with multiple award-winning jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.  We’ll be playing mainly songs she has written or covered on one of her many albums, plus a few classics old and new from our repertoire.  There’ll be two brand new arrangements by me, including this beautiful composition by Liane:

Other charts have come from my co-director Chris McMurran, the BBC Big Band, and Malcolm Edmonstone (pianist and arranger for the Strictly Come Dancing band for three series)!

Of course the main attraction will be Liane, who has won not one but two BBC Jazz Awards, the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Award, two Parlimentary Jazz Awards and the Marston Pedigree Best Vocalist Award.  She has been recording and releasing albums since 1990 and along the way has garned high praise such as:

“Deeply soulful, wonderfully honest” The Times

“Some musicians are talented, some brilliant and a few just seem to be made out of music. Liane Carroll is one of these.” Dave Gelly, The Guardian

“The real thing.” Sholto Byrnes, Independent on Sunday

“Utterly brilliant.” Time Out

If all of that still hasn’t convinced you, check out this duet version of Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend with Ian Shaw from the 2006 Brecon Jazz Festival:

Tickets have been selling well but there should be some left on the door, but arrive early so as not to miss out!  Here are all the details of the concert including how to book:

Liane Carroll with Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra
Friday 31st January, 7.30pm
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge CB3 9DP

Tickets £14 (full) / £6 (students, with ID, and under 18s) available from ADC Ticketing: http://www.adcticketing.com/whats-on/concert/liane-carroll-cambridge-university-jazz-orchestra or 01223 300085.

Cambridge Jazz Co-op Workshop

I’m delighted to be leading a workshop with the Cambridge Jazz Co-op this coming Saturday.  As they put it themselves at www.cambridgejazzcoop.org.uk/wordpress/:

The Cambridge Jazz Co-op is an informal group of amateur jazz musicians that meet on Saturday mornings at the Man on the Moon pub in Cambridge, U.K. to play under the guidance and tuition of professional/prestigious jazz tutors/performers.

It’s a great privilege for me to be invited to share my skills and experience with the group, and I’ve planned what I hope will be a fun and interesting (and a little bit of a different) session:

As players we are immensely lucky to be able to choose from so many great standards, so it’s not surprising that some get called again and again, and sometimes we might get a bit tired of some of them.  To keep things sounding fresh, there are plenty of ways to make our solos interesting and new, but there are also lots of things we can do with the material we’ve been given, by interpreting melodies in new ways and by making our own arrangements.  These don’t have to be complex written affairs – sometimes a change of feel, adding or taking away a bar here or there or putting the melody somewhere unusual can be all it takes to bring an old warhorse back to life, and this can even sometimes be done on the bandstand or in a jam session!

This workshop won’t be about sitting down with pen and paper and writing things out (unless someone finds that useful).  We’ll look at everything through our instruments, and there’ll be plenty of chances to blow as well.  We’ll look at fresh approaches to a well-known standard or two, plus an adaptation of an original tune of mine, Night Owl – see an earlier post for a rehearsal video of this tune in quintet form.

See the Cambridge Jazz Co-op website for more information, especially if you’d like to join in!

P.S. if you would like to come be aware that East Road is completely closed so the Man in the Moon can only be accessed by vehicle from Newmarket Road, via Coldham’s Lane and New Street.  Pedestrian/cycle access should be ok but might take slightly longer than usual.

Cottle gig audio now up

In February the incredible bassist Laurence Cottle joined CUJO for a special gig.  In it, we played two of my arrangements, and here are the recordings!

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning
Music by David Mann, in an arrangement by James Brady
Featuring Simon Warder (tenor sax) and Colin Danskin (trumpet)

Beauty and the Beast
Music by Wayne Shorter, in an arrangement by James Brady
Featuring Laurence Cottle (bass guitar) and Sarah Ling (soprano sax)


Laurence Cottle Gig

Wow.  That was such a fun gig.  Last night CUJO was joined by legendary bassist Laurence Cottle for what was truly one of the most memorable (for all the right reasons) gigs I’ve ever been a part of.  Laurence, who joined us on Friday night and Saturday afternoon for rehearsals before the gig (and in the pub afterwards) was pure class and an inspiration for all of us to play with.

Amongst two sets of his excellent big band charts, I had the enormous privilege of having two of my arrangements, Wayne Shorter’s Beauty and the Beast and In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning by Bob Hillard/David Mann performed with Laurence on bass.  I very much hope I’ll be able to make recordings of these and perhaps other parts of the gig available soon!

Thank you to everyone who came to hear us – I hope you enjoyed the gig half as much as we did!

CUJO with Laurence Cottle.  Photo by Vir Bulchandani.
CUJO with Laurence Cottle. Photo by Vir Bulchandani.


New Quartet Sounds – First Rehearsal

This year I am embarking on a new quartet project focusing on original tunes and arrangements.  Here’s a medley of clips from our very first meeting.  You’ll hear bits of two original tunes by me plus my new arrangements of Don’t Know Why and Caravan.  I’ll post more soon.

James Brady – trumpet, flugelhorn, arrangements
Alex Hitchcock – tenor saxophone
George Gordon – upright bass
Derek Scurll – percussion, trombone

London Jazz Festival 2012 Part 1

After rejoining Cambridge University Jazz Band after a break after graduation in 2012, I was lucky enough to have them play some new arrangements of mine at the Bull’s Head, Barnes, during the 2012 London Jazz Festival (which only gave us a couple of rehearsals to put together 2 hours of music!).  We managed to get a rough live recording of my arrangement of In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, which has always been a favourite ballad of mine:


This seemed like a big challenge at first since I didn’t think the usual stock-in-trade technique of heavily harmonising the melody with similar lines would work.  The melody is actually quite square and dull if you play it exactly as written – I think there needs to be quite a bit of rhythmic freedom to bring it out.  So I decided that a good deal of it would be played by a single player – primarily a tenor sax (although I did give myself a short flugel section for the fun of it – then promptly forgot the notes on the gig!), here played by Simon Warder, a talented science student at the University.  To preserve the beauty of the melody, I then kept the harmonic accompaniment mostly very simple, reharmonising it gradually into new forms as it went along.  As I got into the solo section, the progression so strongly suggested Bach to me that I had to go and rip of the G major cello suite!  After that, some thicker textures with different harmony, a climax and we’re done!  Hope you enjoy this – I hope to have the chance to get a recording under better circumstances at some point.

2012 Latin Quartet

In Februrary 2012 I played a trio gig with Sean Taylor (guitar) and George Gordon (acoustic bass) which sounded so lovely I just had to find more opportunities to play with these guys.  However, it needed one extra ingredient to broaden the range, so I got in touch with fine drummer and percussionist Derek Scurll, who joined us on various pieces from his arsenal.  Although we had a fair number of gigs over the summer, including playing at the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Museums at Night, we didn’t get that many chances to rehearse much new repertoire, but here’s a flavour of the sound:

Hopefully this won’t be the last time I get to try this configuration!


I’ve played several big-band arrangements of The Headhunters’ Chameleon and I’ve not really liked any of them – they tend to be too bombastic for my taste.  I’ve always thought the real magic of the original was how it was so contained – it doesn’t blast your face off.  So with that in mind, I set out on a new arrangement for Churchill Band in 2011, and this was the result: