There’s Light at the End of the Tunnel!

The blog has been rather quiet this month which pretty much sums everything up! Not had chance to do anything – full steam ahead with work. The set for the next recital is pretty firm now, and I have got almost all of the parts transcribed. The work has been mounting up recently and the productive day I’ve had today couldn’t have come at a better time. I can now devote much more of my time to rehearsing the actual pieces, rather than transcribing, deciding on and learning them. So with the songs picked and almost all transcribed, the next step is to start promoting, and rehearsing. I’ve been in contact with different musicians to try and get a band confirmed and it’s coming along. A few emails have been sent to the venue- no reply, so that one thing to chase up. Once that’s done and there are a few posters around I’ll be able to relax a little. I can honestly say that since starting this second recital, the day after I finished the first one, today has been the first day where I can ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel’, so to speak. That ‘light’ isn’t applicable to Zappa’s ‘Black Page’ just yet though; that song is a complete maze. Well I’ll keep at it I guess!

Anyway, here is the picture so far regarding the set:

  • Steely Dan – Aja
  • Frank Zappa – Andy
  • Frank Zappa – The Black Page
  • D’angelo – Spanish Joint
  • Paul Simon – Late In The Evening
  • Sonny Rollins – St Thomas
  • Vinnie Colaiuta – Subway
  • Jeff Beck – Led Boots
(Roughly 38-40min – Required: 45min)

Currently on the fence with:

  • Tower Of Power – Only So Much Oil In The Ground

And as always, the ‘floaters’:

  • George Duke – It’s On
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five

I have noticed that I picked this set in a similar way to the first recital set. I settled on one song which I knew would be in (Billy Cobham – Sorcery / Steely Dan – Aja) and then branched off from there. In hindsight, maybe that’s why recital 1 had a little more of a ‘fusion’ edge, where as this recital is a little more ‘world’ orientated? Having said that, I knew from the start that this time I wanted to branch out into some world and latin grooves. I suppose when you break it down, I’ve just picked what I enjoy; listening to, and playing. Because I guess at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about.

Recital 2 – Choices

So I’ve done a lot of thinking throughout February and here is the set list that I have come up with. I’m happy with the songs for a number of different reasons. I’ve tried to keep a balance so that the songs are varied, but keeping the set so that the tracks aren’t at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. Some of the tracks are more groove orientated, some have more prominent elements of technical flair. But I was aiming for a well rounded set that could try and cover all of these aspects. Again, I’m sure there will be ammendments to the set as time progresses, but this is what I have so far.

The next stage? transcription and venue booking; both of which I’m currently in the process of completing! – and also, lots of practice..

Other posibilities:

Recital 2 – The Shortlist

After listening to lots and lots of music, here’s the short list. I’ve tried to get a bit of variety in the mix, and I’m looking to try and incorporate some Latin and World grooves in this recital. The set is going to be 45 mins in length this time, so I’d say between 7 – 9, depending on song length. I’ll learn one or two extra in case the set is too short or a song isn’t working.  Again, I have no doubt that this list will change in parts over the coming weeks.

15/02/12 – EDIT: Still choosing songs. I’ve decided to put an ‘*‘ next to the songs that, for the moment, are ‘in’.

17/02/12 – EDIT: Still choosing songs. Almost done now, I can see a set starting to take shape. I’ve listed the songs into a few different columns now and added rough times.

08/03/12 –  EDIT: Still choosing songs – Can see the light at the end of the tunnel now..

Songs in for the moment

The ‘Maybes’
Other thoughts and ideas

Recital 2 – The Initial Ideas

I’ve started looking into some possible songs for Recital 2. No links or anything like that between them just yet. Here’s a list that I’ve come up with over the past few days to start to get things moving.

Just some initial thoughts…to be continued.

Recital Complete

With the first recital, viva, portfolio and essay done, that’s the first third / PG Cert part of my MA complete! All in all the recital went well. Few ups and downs, a few things I thought could have gone better and a few things I know I can improve upon for the second recital. The recital set was as follows:

  1. Billy Cobham – Sorcery
  2. Sting – Seven Days
  3. Stanton Moore Trio – Late Night At The Maple Leaf
  4. Alan Pasqua – Proto Cosmos
  5. The Gadd Gang – Watching The River Flow

I also performed for Stu’s recital on the same night, playing Guthrie Govan’s ‘Eric’, and Chick Corea’s ‘Spain’. I also made an appearance on guitar, playing on Django Reinhardt’s ‘Minor Swing’ and Tommy Emmanuel’s version of ‘How High The Moon’, which was a lot of fun! After a lot of preparation with lighting, venue set up and some last minute running around for emergency chairs, the layout and visuals were great. So what happens next? Well it’s straight on to the next recital. The first tutorial for recital number 2 is on Monday (and the recital was only on Wednesday), so it’s full steam ahead.

I’m looking forward to the next recital already, having really enjoyed the first. The journey to that first recital has been a stressful one (lack of sleep, lots of work, the sprouting of a ganglion cyst on the wrist due to all the practice, the accidental rupture of said cyst…), but it’s something I’m more than happy do do all over again!

Recital 1

Final preparations are being made for the first recital. Date has been set as 01/02/2012, 7pm at Kingsway Campus. Here’s a bit about the night, taken from the Facebook event page:

Jazz Cafe
An evening of performance and academic presentation.

Opening the evening will be Songwriting & Composition student Sophie Ballamy, performing an acoustic set of her own beautifully crafted original material.

In between the music will be Popular Music Studies student Ben Griffiths, with a presentation entitled “Take The Power Back” – a theoretical cultural study of Rage Against The Machine reaching the Christmas number one in 2009.

Finally Stu Readman & Ash Turner will be performing a recital of a wide variety of jazz fusion material, amongst other genres. Both are highly competent musicians and this is a fantastic opportunity to see the two in full flow!

This is a free event, and there is the opportunity to bring your own alcohol (within reason). All are welcome.

Looking forward to it now!

Set Lists

Still putting together ideas for my first recital. Here is a rough set list so far. The plan is to have everything confirmed by Christmas, so I can get any charts done, ready for rehearsals in the new year:

Billy Cobham – Sorcery

Sting – Seven Days

Alan Pasqua – Proto Cosmos

Stanton Moore Trio – (Late Night At The) Maple Leaf

The Gadd Gand Live – Watching the River Flow

Steely Dan – Aja


Other Posibilities:

Frank Zappa – Andy (Zappa Plays Zappa version)

Jeff Beck – Play With Me


There are more songs here than what I need, but I’m starting to narrow them all down now. I’m sure some will still change at some point, but hopefully I should have a list confirmed soon!

Drumming & Learning

I’ve been down at Blueprint studios with Bryan working on a few more ideas and concepts. The other week, we were looking at the system demonstrated by Gary Chaffee in his book “Sticking Patterns” to work on independence, tightening the groove, polyrhythms and stick control. My technique has been at the forefront of these lessons, and it is gradually getting better. I’m trying to eliminate the bad habits and just become a better drummer. On Tuesday, we were working on my left hand technique a little more, and playing through the Sting track that I had been looking at. My tutor also thinks it would be good for me to play a track and sing some backing harmonies over the top. Nervous at the thought, as it is unexplored territory for me, but it could be good. Food for thought..

One Month In

It was exactly month ago today that I started this blog, two days after officially starting the MA course. What have I learnt over this month? Well I’ve started to take a step back and analyse my playing and my practice. This has been helped tenfold by the reintroduction of instrumental lessons with a great teacher. I know where my own strengths and weaknesses are, and I know what I need to do in order to improve on those. But sometimes I think it takes someone else to look at your playing and show you the bigger picture. What I have come to realise in learning to play an instrument proficiently, is that the further along the learning path you walk, the bigger and harder the steps become to take. Progressing through graded exams, there is always a clear focus on what the next step is. But once you get past that, you realise on drums for example, the smallest change in articulation or stick technique can change the groove from sounding good to great. I think I’ve known this for a good while, but it is only when you really try and do something about it that you actually realise it. I think that I have made good progress for a month’s hard work, and I’m sure that I’ll progress throughout the year. All in all, I’m chuffed with how it is all going, and I’m enjoying researching, working academically and trying to improve what will ultimately take me a lifetime to master.

Final song thoughts of October

This week is what’s known as ‘personal development week’. I’m hoping to get a couple of songs down with some rough charts etc by the end of the week. I’ve stumbled across a song which I think I will learn and play with a band if possible. It seems like a lot of fun to play, displays elements of groove work and also some technical parts.

The track is by drummer/percussionist/vocalist – Sheila E, and it is a song called ‘Joy’. It’s from her 2007 album ‘Heaven’. As you can imagine from the title, the song is quite gospel orientated, but it contains elements of funk and jazz. The track isn’t anywhere on youtube, but here is a guy named Ramon Sampson (Meinl Cymbal artist & Guitar Center 2009 champ) playing a cover of it (Which is actually quite close to the original).