October saw me in an unusual role as band leader. I have run bands for the past 7 years but have never taken the step forward to tour. Being a sideman is much easier but the rewards from getting your own musical ideas out there is a beautiful thing so it was a positive endeavour for me.
The first difficulty is the attempt to get dates close together and although the tour was only five dates, I managed to get them in a space of 9 days. The reason for having the gigs back to back, besides constructing a time for the band members to commit to, is to allow us to develop the music and create a better performance each time. Now that the tour is over, I have a lot of goals. We received a lot of praise and requests for the album, which does not yet exist. This brings me onto one of the main goals for setting up a tour, to solidify the set and to record it. After the performances and judging crowds reactions, I now know which compositions I will use. Some tracks need to be replaced for live performances as they were clearly weaker and less exciting for an audience.
We were lucky enough to have one of the performances filmed by an audience member with an HD camera. He got some fantastic shots and wants to put a video together for us as a band. I also enlisted the help of a friend to record the final performance in Cardiff with a field recorder using stereo mics. These two things and the addition of an actual recording will give me enough material to get a video together to promote the band.
The main mission for me as a band leader is to try and break into the wider music scene. One problem on the tour we encountered was the material we played. A few clubs have a nostalgic view of jazz music and so expect to know a good deal of the music played, which is refereed to as the ‘Great American Songbook’. Indeed it is great; but it has no relevance to younger music fans and can be off putting. As a way of trying to keep some jazz tradition in my music, we decided to include a few pieces from TV shows. ‘The Rains of Castermere’, from ‘Game of Thrones’, and ‘Sycamore Trees’, from ‘Twin Peaks’. At our final concert in Cardiff, this idea was met with a fantastic response as the pieces were recognised and enjoyed.
So I want to just put in a few thanks to the promoters at the clubs we played and to the rest of the band who have come together to create something special. Now I am setting gears in motion to record and campaign to get the music out there. Watch this space