Last Saturday, Vesperados headed down to the Performing Arts Technology Studios in Guildford to finally spend some time in the studio recording properly, nearly 18 months since we started playing together! With plenty of recent gigs in the bag, the tunes we were sounding pretty tight and ready to put some of our original tunes on record.
I’d been to the studios before, to record Churchill Jazz Band in 2011, and had been really pleased with the results. Click here to jump back and hear them again, including my arrangement of Chameleon.
Our engineer for the session was Joachim Fainberg, assisted ably by Will Gray. Arriving on a sodden morning after battling through bank holiday M25 traffic, our lives were immediately made easier by their preparedness and smiling welcome. With the mics already set up, we just needed to get our instruments in place and set a few levels before we could start cutting tracks. Since Derek and George were a little behind Alex and myself in arriving, we managed to put a take of my duo arrangement of Billy Strayhorn’s beautiful ballad Lush Life in the can before they arrived – an added bonus.
We spent the period before lunch getting original swing tunes Dotty One [these links are to older live recordings] and Champion of the World down, followed after the break by the Latin- and Eastern-influenced Ave de Paso, Everywhere is East, and Mi Querido. Mixing and mastering is taking place in June, so keep an eye out on the band’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for news and the release!
My recent bit of fun with Adventure Time got me looking back through some old compositions and I unearthed two very different pieces which I have recordings of, both written when I was in sixth form (2005-2007). The first, Kyma (meaning ‘waves’ in Greek) is a piece which to me evokes the vastness of the rolling deep ocean. I conducted a performance of it at Fitzwilliam College with The Orchestra on the Hill in 2009, which is where this recording is from:
The other piece is a study in neoclassical composition, which I was studying at the time, and in particular, Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks. My theme is a direct homage to his. This was performed in the Duke’s Hall of the Royal Academy of Music (as pictured) by the Junior Academy Conductors’ Ensemble in 2007, with Louisa Denby conducting:
Although these days I’m mainly writing jazz, I’ve never lost my love for classical music and hopefully I’ll have the chance to write for orchestras again soon!
My girlfriend and I like to go on adventures. On a recent one, whilst standing in an airport queue, we realised that we needed a theme tune to carry around on our phones to be played whenever a new adventure begins. So upon our return from that particular trip (to Edinbugh), I wrote a little jingle, named, appropriately enough, Adventure Time!! With the score complete I enlisted the help of my old university buddy and talented media composer Peter Nickalls to use his massive libraries of orchestral samples and mega programming skills to come up with this finished product, which I hope you’ll agree is highly fragrant:
So if you hear this pungent little ditty blasting out from a speaker near you, you’ll know it’s Adventure Time!! Now why not go check out Peter’s stuff?
I wrote this tune a number of years ago (2009 I think) and have tried it in basic lead-sheet form in a couple of rehearsals but was never sure quite what to do with it. I tried writing lyrics and tried it in a couple of big band formats but nothing stuck. Finally however, I realised that I should keep it very spare – the basic tune with the other parts already has enough complex harmony and the rest of the chart can afford to be less ‘composed’. In the end I just placed the tune at the beginning and end and in between wrote some simple bass lines over which to myself and then Alex could improvise freely.
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