A stopgap

I’m building a new website so sorry for the lack of updates here – keep posted on twitter for gigs and news. Here are some things I’m looking forward to this month: this Saturday 2nd April at the Archduke, Waterloo with Fini Bearman (7.30), the 16th at Cafe POSK with Alex Merritt quartet feat. Sam Lasserson and Jeff Williams, and on the 29th with Ant Law at the Verdict, Brighton. I’ve been in the studio with BARLI pretty intensively and there’ll be some new and exciting things to show you very soon. Plus trio dates at Ronnie Scotts and a new recording project in the Autumn. See you soon!

The Compositions on the Treehouse Album


It’s been fun seeing the album make its way about the place over the last couple of months. We had a blast launching at the London Jazz Festival and we’ll be doing a good bit of playing in 2016 – due to our diaries the next set of gigs won’t be until summer/autumn in the end but that’s how it goes! In the meantime I thought I’d write a little about some of the pieces on the album – it’s something I like to read from other artists sometimes so perhaps a few of you may like to do the same.



I have a theory that you need to have some ‘one page tunes’. They are sometimes the hardest to write in a satisfactory way; it’s a bit like those moments in Masterchef when someone decides to cook something very simple for the judges. It all has to be just right, but in order to want to keep going back for more (as a diner or an improviser) you just need a little quirk, an angle, a rough edge. Something to get stuck in your teeth that you have to try and get out.


So it turns out that some people believe there there are so-called ‘shadow particles’, invisible to us yet partnering everything we know to exist. In essence the piece is about the idea that what we can see/feel/measure is not everything there is, without even touching on a spiritual/religious interpretation of the universe. I was interested in writing a piece that doesn’t have an obvious melody (or any melody! ed.) but relies on symmetry, motion, colour and improvisational energy to shape it. Abstract, if you like.

Beanie’s Bounce

Ok, this owes a debt to Jarrett’s ‘The Windup’. Frank Zappa called an album ‘Does Humour Belong in Music?’. He’s an example of someone that can write a melody that would be ridiculously jovial or even a bit inane if played half-heartedly but tragi-comically brilliant if recited at full tilt by multi-tracked marimbas, electric guitars, synth clavichords and opera singers. The Windup reminds has the same energy to me, and I like it…


This is a tune that is written after a character in this wonderful film. For me it’s about the complex relationship between captor and captive – the film predates the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ by 20 years or so but the central theme is the same. Sometimes we find our emotions not matching what we imagine they should be in a given situation. It’s like finding beauty in what seems like a cruel place. The chords and the melody are completely out of sync at times, and the end result is quite ‘wrong’ in a conservatoire-style theoretical way, which is why I quite like it.

You can read more about the album here

And find it: PHYSICAL

Amazon(physical)   Independent music shops  UK)  here and here


iTunes  CAMJazz



A Preview of Things to Come in Autumn


More details soon but here are some upcoming things to look out for!

  • The Current Pianist Magazine features an interview with yours truly, touching on playing solo, improvisation and the new Treehouse release. There’s also a live recording of ‘Slightly Peculiar’ on the covermount CD, which I was lucky enough to make on a stunning Bosendorfer Imperial. Pick up a copy!
  • I’ll be playing alongside a host of extraordinary pianists at the Jazz Piano Summit in the Purcell Room on the 9th September. The concert is dedicated to the late, great John Taylor and features many collaborators and students of his.
  • Fini Bearman and I are off to JazzLand Vienna on the 23rd September – we’re also playing a new set of music inspired by Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children at the London Jazz Festival
  • The Treehouse Album is nearly here! CAMJazz are releasing on September the 22nd (UK release 2nd October) and the album has started making its way across the world. The Launch gig is at the London Jazz Festival on the 16th November. We’re also going to Norwich Jazz on the 13th October, and Hot Numbers, Cambridge on the 9th October. There’ll be gigs/workshops in Leeds and Nottingham in a few months’ time. There’ll also be a few videos and more bits of news in the next few weeks.
  • I’ll be playing a lunchtime solo concert in Nottingham on the 9th October at The Royal Albert Hall
  • I’m excited about being involved in the new BASCA Jazz Executive – if you write Jazz and want to know more check it out here http://basca.org.uk/tag/jazz/

A farewell.


I find it hard to say anything about John Taylor’s artistry that hasn’t been said by now, but more as a personal thank you I’ve decided to write a little about my own time with him, in full knowledge that my experience is shared by countless other musicians who have been lucky enough to get to know him over his lifetime. I know it’s just my story, but I hope it might be of interest to anyone who has a musical or personal connection to John (plus it starts with a funny coincidence, which is always a good way to begin things).

Between the ages of 11 and 18 I hopped on a school bus that went past our house in rural Kent at 7.37 a.m every day. Barring any major disruptions (the most common being combine harvesters, livestock and ice), it wound its way through the North Downs to Ashford over the next hour or so, taking in some fairly typical Kentish scenes – whilst there were some picturesque villages, stacks of hay bales, rusty gates and herds of friesians, there were also many unremarkable rows of bungalows, cottages and post-war terraces, behind whose doors seemed to live ordinary people going about ordinary lives. A couple of years ago I found myself retracing that route for the first time in 10 years, having finally managed to pluck up the courage to call up John. In the process of our first brief phone call I learnt that, not only had I passed by his house hundreds (if not thousands) of times on my way to school, but my parents had been using the same builder as him and his wife Carol was good friends with a very old family friend. I wonder how many times he was there as we passed by on our way to and from school, doing distinctly un-ordinary things in his studio at the back of one of those cottages.

In a line of work which frequently calls on musicians to ‘put themselves out there’, dialling John’s phone number still counts as probably the boldest thing I’ve ever done – I suspect that John never really realised (and I doubt his humility would have let him believe) the degree to which I had been captivated and obsessed with his music during the two years leading up to our first session together. You can see some of the fruits of that obsession on this blog, which focused for a while on the CD Phases.

John listened to the music I sheepishly sent him with intent, and my first visit consisted most of him asking me questions, which I found frankly pretty unnerving, not least because I found myself unable to answer most of them! I was in a familiar position to many musicians – out of music college a few years, having released some music, keeping busy with gigging and teaching, but well past the initial rush of almost survival-instinct dynamism of the early twenties. I was in the middle of compiling a large system of triad-pair voicings, the scale of which eventually defeated me, and had just started to flail around in the dark looking for ways to make the most of the Treehouse music I’d written. In truth I knew that I was a little adrift and starting to question whether what I was doing was really any good or not.

Over the next few years John would become the most important person in my musical life. I’d made that phone call because I thought, misguidedly, that I might be able to satisfy some of the burning curiosity I had about his music. Today, thankfully, the soul of that music remains a mystery – we would talk about harmony and composition, texture and touch, composition and improvisation, everything –  but when he sat down at his old German piano what emerged remained otherworldly, beyond anything I could really grasp. Lines like little characters with their own complex narratives, humour, optimism and melancholy, complex cloud formations passing by, the kind of groove that seems to make the air thick. Without really trying, he made me question where I was looking in my efforts to improve my musicianship.

We saw each other about a month ago in the pub in that little village. He was completely full of the joys of life and music, telling me about all his various projects, the joy of his recent recording, even his ideas for our planned gig together in the London Jazz Festival this autumn. I left having had a good laugh, as I usually did after meeting John and spending a few hours with his refreshing irreverence and mischievous wit, his eyebrows popping up over his sunglasses as he made light of whatever aspect of this sometimes mad way of life he was dissecting. Despite getting to know each other well over the last few years, I could never shake off the kind of childish wonder I felt at actually sitting and having a pint with, for lack of a better word, my musical hero.

Now he’s gone I know he leaves myself and many, many other musicians unable to count the ways he’s affected their lives. I hope I can repay his constant encouragement to pursue absolute musical goals, not to mention his unflinching generosity in helping open some of the more mundane doors that can nevertheless be very difficult to open. Every note we have of his on record takes on a little extra meaning now that we know there won’t be any more; what we do have, though, is more than enough to sustain anyone for a lifetime.

Spring Update

Apologies to all who may have been wondering what I’ve been up to – the answer is plenty and I’ll tell you a bit about it!

I’ve been getting things ready for the autumn, including a date at Ronnie Scotts (date TBC) and most importantly the Treehouse Album Launch at part of the London Jazz Festival at The Forge on the 16th November. I’m really lucky to have John Taylor coming down (or ‘up’ to be more accurate) to top the bill. Treehouse will also be gigging in a few places across the country in the first week of October. I’ll be going to Europe to play some gigs with the amazing Fini Bearman and there’ll be some solo gigs too.

In the meanwhile, here’s a video that Fini and I made recently:

Another coming soon! Many thanks to Lucinda Gallant at Studio J and Darren Michael for videoing. We’re just finishing up editing some Treehouse videos too.

I had a very fun day recording with Alam Nathoo, Nick Jurd and Corrie Dick last week – results before too long I hope!

Also look out for the July edition of Pianist Magazine – there’ll be some music from yours truly on the the cover and an interview inside.

In the meanwhile:

16th May with the brilliant Ant Law Quintet at the Crypt, Camberwell (also 17th July at the Verdict in Brighton)

20th May I’ve been invited to play a solo concert at Magdelen College Arts Week in Oxford. More details/link soon

I’m off for a little trip to Copenhagen…when I get back I’m looking forward to a couple of dates with a bit of a hero (producer/composer/Bjork collaborator) – not officially announced yet but they’re going to be a lot of fun. One major item to cross of the bucket list this year – playing Glasto!

Then 10th June I”ll be playing the late set at the 606 with a trio, hot on the heels of the brilliant Mark Lockheart

Keep posted on twitter for some more-frequently-updated happenings…

Current goings on

It’s been a bit quiet on the website recently – time seems to vanish! There’s lots of planning going on for this autumn with gigs related to the Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition Win and the Treehouse album release. There’ll also be some exciting new videos both with Treehouse and the lovely Fini Bearman coming soon.

You can catch Fini and myself playing some standards at the Archduke in Waterloo this Saturday evening (free, 7.30), and tonight I’ll be down at the regular haunt of Olivers in Greenwich with good friend and wonderful saxophonist Alam Nathoo. See you soon!

The rest of January


I’ve been enjoying getting back into the swing (and straight-eights) of things after a much-appreciated Christmas break. Seems like everyone is raring to go this January and it’s been a busy month so far, with a fair few days of seeing some amazing sunrises from the flat! Before time gets the better of me, here are a few things for the diary for the rest of the month:

24th Issie Barratt 50th Birthday celebrations at Kings Place feat the killer talents of Juice Vocal Ensemble, Mick Foster, Rowland Sutherland, Matt Ridley, Dominic Ashworth, Corrina Silvester and Laura Jurd. Lots of amazing new music to be heard and tickets are going fast I’m told! http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/music/issie-barratts-50th-birthday-celebration

26th Barli, Hoxton Bar and Grill. Away from the world of jazz, Barli’s music is full of warmth and soul with an electronic edge. Come and see her debut show, also featuring Pete Ibbetson on drums and electronics, whilst I’ll be operatic an electro/analog mothership of keyboards and synths...https://billetto.co.uk/events/66049

29th Nicky Schrire at the 606. Another date with this hugely enjoyable project! Feat Adam Waldmann, Tim Giles and Nick Jurd. http://606club.co.uk/606club_Pair/whatson2015/january.html

Also, there’s something happening on the 30th that you can’t come to now, but will be invited to, digitally, in the future – Treehouse will be shooting three tracks live to video for our project supported by the fantastic HelpMusiciansUK’s Emerging Excellence Award in 2014.