Sunday, December 31, 2006

Page to Performance on Radio 4

Quite a nice show talking about George and Ira Gershwin's iconic song I Got Rhythm, from it's birth as a song from the musical Girl Crazy, through to Gershwin's orchestral variations, and it's continued significance as a vehicle for improvisation in jazz. Love John Etheridge's impromptu self-accompanying breakneck performance, and Lorna Luft's bit about singing whilst being heavily pregnant (apparently you can get higher notes!).

You can listen again, but not sure how long the show will be available...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dracula on BBC1 tonight

Look out for Dracula tonight on BBC1 at 9pm. The music was written by Dominik Scherrer and I did some of the orchestration and music editing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How to Make a Trumpet

Here's a groovy video all about making trumpets in a trumpet factory. Although it's from the American kids' show Mr Rogers' Neighborhood, it takes me back to looking through the Square/Round/Arched window in Play School.

[edit: I'm afraid this video has been taken down from YouTube now - but check out my post of Nov 9th 2007.]

Funny how lots of people like watching stuff being made - the guy who uploaded this video has lots of similar films.

P.S. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Morley Big Band

This morning, I went along to the Morley Big Band run by Gordon Rose. It's a rehearsal band, playing very interesting and challenging music including pieces by Bill Russo and Bill Holman. There are some excellent players, but sadly a distinct lack of trombones. Amazingly, Gordon has been leading this band now for 46 years!!

I went along because I heard there was a possibility they would play a chart of mine, but they were a trumpet down so I got to play too. My chart was a jazz ballad which I wrote a few years ago in college. It was really nice to have something played by a big band again - and it's really inspired me to write something new.

A couple of other composers also arrived with charts for us to play, including Pete Moore, the gentleman who wrote the famous Pearl and Dean theme (you know: 'Ba-baa, ba-baa, ba-baa, ba-baa, ba-ba-baa, Ba-baa, ba-baa, ba-baa, ba-baaaa-BAP!')

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


My latest project with Dominik was for the BBC's new adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The cast includes Marc Warren as Dracula, Sophia Myles and David Suchet. Think it will be on some time over the Christmas period.

Once again I was orchestrating, and also editing the recorded audio (which involved another all-night working session - yuk. And I wasn't cheered up much by the occasional check on how the test match was going either. Still, the Traditional Breakfast at Wetherspoons in the morning was very tasty, and only £1.99.)


Hmm... I don't think I ever actually blogged about this project which kept me busy over the summer and into autumn - apart from one mysterious entry I made about having been up all night working on it..

Anyway, Primeval is ITV's new £6m six-part sci-fi series, and I assisted Dominik Scherrer with his score for it, by doing orchestration, programming, and playing trumpet. The series was made by Impossible Pictures - the people who made Walking With Dinosaurs - and stars Douglas Henshall, Hannah Spearritt (formerly of S Club 7 - hurrah!) and Ben Miller. Think the series will be out in early 2007.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gig this Sunday..

This Sunday evening I'll be playing at the Park Tavern, 212 Merton Road SW18 (on corner of West Hill Road; Southfields tube 5ish mins away), with Nick Tomalin on piano and Paul Whelpton on bass. Starts 7pm.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cinema trip

Last night, I went to see Scenes of a Sexual Nature (my first big screen credit) with my family and some friends.

I knew that my father wasn't exactly an ardent movie-goer - in fact, he reckoned that this was the first time he'd been to the cinema since about 1941 (when he saw Dumbo). I was sitting next to my sister, and gave her a prod every time I heard a bit where I was playing, and she in turn prodded my father who prodded mum, and so on along the line. Of course we stayed through the credits so that we could see my name, at which point a small ripple of applause came from our row (which was the only row still occupied by then).

Many thanks to everyone for coming along! Hope they enjoyed it (they said they did, but not sure they'd say if they didn't!)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SoaSN on Film 2006 and on the tube

Just seen Jonathan Ross reviewing Scenes of a Sexual Nature on his Film 2006 show on BBC1 - a very positive review, I'm happy to say. Also seeing posters for it around town and on the tube - all very exciting!

The film will be out on Friday at these cinemas, so please go along and see it!! (Btw I'm plugging this cos I orchestrated and played trumpet on it.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


A little while ago I wrote some music for Garth Donovan's forthcoming feature film, Manual. The blah on IMDB says:

Manual follows a brother and sister who come from a family of gifted hockey players. Once they began playing for serious high school programs they grew tired and quit. They feel like failures, thinking they disappointed their parents, and both wind up spinning out of control in vicious cycles of rebellion and self-destruction.

Btw this is an American film so when they say 'hockey', they mean 'ice-hockey'.. And they say 'vicious cycles', we say 'vicious circles'. Tomayto-tomahto etc etc. Anyway, I think it's a really nice film.

Here's one of my cues which accompanies a scene where the main character is lost in thought.. kind of day-dreaming, reflecting... in a brown study (what a great expression that is!) It's kind of ambient I suppose.

(Or if you can't see a player just above this, try clicking here.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

SoaSN trailer released

The trailer for Scenes of a Sexual Nature has now been released, and features my music, which I'm quite excited about! Haven't seen it at the cinema yet - I think it might be playing at the Vue in Leicester Square amongst other places. (Mind you, I wouldn't expect anyone - apart from me - to go to the cinema just to see a trailer). Looking forward to the UK-wide release of the film (it's my first big screen credit!) which will happen on November 3rd.

You can see the trailer here or here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Eileen Hunter's UK tour

My chum Eileen and her new hubby Steve Brookstein are off on their UK tour soon, so look out for them! Think Eileen's album, Now and Then, is also coming very soon - I'll keep you informed..

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lots of News about SoaSN!

Scenes of a Sexual Nature (which will be my first feature film credit!) will be released nationwide in the UK from Friday 3rd November 2006, playing in about 40 cinemas across the country. It has also been nominated for Best UK Feature Film at the Raindance Film Festival!

I wrote the music for the trailer, which should be appearing soon, so look out for it!

They've set it up on MySpace, so you can be the film's friend, if you are so inclined.

Phew! Too many exclamation marks in this post!!!! I'm off for a lie down in a darkened room!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Two Families

I've recently finished orchestrating another film project for composer Dominik Scherrer. This one was a mafia film entitled Two Families, and was directed by Romano Scavolini. This was the first feature film project where I was the sole orchestrator, so it was all quite exciting (and a little bit nerve-wracking at times!) (Oh - and hard work too!!)

The score features the wonderful cellist Philip Sheppard. As well as playing 'straight' beautifully, he also gets some incredible sounds and special effects from his cello. It's really exciting to be working with great musicians like Philip.

Not sure when or where this film will come out - watch this space..

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Dad's 75th

Yesterday was my Dad's 75th birthday party, and he held a birthday lunch for family and friends at The Albert on Victoria Street in London. We had a very fine lunch, with either roast beef, turkey or pork to choose from, plus all the trimmings. As you can see from the pictures, Dad received not one but two very chocolatey cakes.

I was starting to panic that I might have to do a toast, and was frantically asking my family near me for good jokes for such an occasion - all I got was one about poor Steve Irwin from my nephew, Chris, which didn't quite seem to fit the bill. Happily for me, one of Dad's colleagues took it upon himself to do the toast so I was off the hook.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to apologise to Aunt Ruth, who was arriving at Paddington where I was supposed to meet her, but unfortunately I was late. After much wandering around the station, and phone calls to my Dad, I eventually got the message that she'd decided to make her own way to the pub. So I did the same - and then by chance met her on the bus! This seemed like not a bad result, only then we failed to get off at the appropriate stop, and ended up having to get another one back. Navigation has never been my strong point. Sorry Auntie. (I might add that she was very forgiving and wasn't in the least bit cross with me.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Steve and Eileen's wedding

Congratulations to Steve and Eileen who got married on Saturday! The weather was very good, and the location was beautiful: King's College Chapel, and then Elphinstone Hall in Aberdeen.

There was a wide variety of music played by the bride and groom's many musical friends and family. There was a piece by Eileen's late grandfather, Charlie Hunter, played during the service and later the Aurora Brass Quintet entertained us as we sipped champagne on the lawn. There was also a piper, and at the end of the evening a great ceilidh band. (Dancing at a ceilidh is just about my favourite thing - but I do need to have a very understanding partner as I haven't got a clue about any of the moves.)

I used to live in Aberdeen (in my previous life as a software engineer), so I know the city very well. Unfortunately, this had to be a very short visit for me as I am very busy at the moment and had a gig in London the next day. So sadly there was no time to catch up with old friends who are up there - except those who attended the wedding, of course.

Here are some terrible photos I took with my (shiny new) phone. At the top is the best (sorry) I have of the happy couple, then there's a young loun running about in a kilt. Then there's Elphinstone Hall looking a bit like Hogwarts, and King's College Chapel at night. The last picture shows how everything looked to me towards the end of the evening..

Friday, August 11, 2006

Righteous Rage..

Todays' Telegraph contains an article by my dad entitled 'Righteous Rage at the Parish Pump', about the trials of editing the local church magazine. It's also available online.

My mum's not going to be at all happy, I fear..

Monday, August 07, 2006

SoaSN in today's Evening Standard

Just seen that today's Evening Standard contains quite a large article about Scenes of a Sexual Nature, which I orchestrated for and played trumpet on. The article mainly focuses on Ewan McGregor's appearance in the film, and has a few nice pictures from it. According to the Standard, it'll be released in late October or early November.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Pint of Brains

Oh dear, I haven't blogged for ages... I've been really busy with a TV project (which I'm not allowed to talk about I think), and have been playing a bit here and there with Riamba, the Rugs and the John Ongom Big Band.

For the first time in my life I went to Wales at the weekend. I was visiting a friend who's teaching on the Jazz Summer School at the University of Glamorgan. The course is run by Simon Purcell and Dave Wickins, and this year the tutors include Bobby Wellins, Liane Carroll, Martin Speake and Chris Batchelor.

I didn't get to sit in on any of the classes, but I went to the jazz club which they run in the student union every evening and I must say, it was a really great atmosphere. I met several of the tutors, who were really friendly, and several students, who all seemed to be having a whale of a time. Felt slightly strange asking for a pint of Brains (the local brew). It was very nice - and a lot more malty than actual brains.

Went down to Porthcawl to stay with my friend's parents for a night. Went swimming in the Bristol Channel in a pair of swimming shorts borrowed from her dad (it could have been worse: I was initially offered a pair of speedos). All very invigorating (I mean the sea and the air).

I was sorry to have to return to London on Monday - I was really envious of everybody who would get to hang out there on the course all week and just play music. Oh well...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

In case it had gone to sudden death..

So once again, England crash out of a major tournament on penalties.

But how about this for the lifelong England supporter (who doesn't want to stop there): an attractive white coffin sporting the Cross of St. George and the Three Lions of England. I spotted it at an undertaker's in Walthamstow.

By the way, did you know that Death is a fine football player? That's why he's known as the Great Equaliser ha ha. (Hmm.. needs work, that one, I think..)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tonight on Newsnight: My Dad

Apparently my Dad might be on Newsnight tonight (BBC2 10:30), being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman about the way that the House of Commons is becoming more tame. I'm going to miss it unfortunately..

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I had to prepare a little speech about Kyudo for my Japanese class the other week. It was something which I knew nothing about, so I did a little research on the net. I found it really interesting.

Kyudo means 'Way of the Bow' in English. The bow is made of bamboo, is 2 metres long and asymmetrical. There are eight steps in the shooting process: place the feet, position the body, ready the bow, etc., and all should be performed in one graceful movement.

This photo shows archers at some of the stages of the shooting process: readying the bow (2nd archer from left), drawing the bow (4th from left), the full draw (left-most), and just after the release (3rd from left). (Many thanks to Vernon Fowler for the use of his excellent photo.)

I'm sure this is not easy, but perhaps it seems that there is not too much to learn, just from a technical point of view. However, in fact kyudo is all about developing the spirit: the goal is to give oneself over completely to the shot. I think this is a great lesson: many people have such busy lives these days, and there are so many distractions. If we can really focus on the current task then we can achieve so much more.

Of course, this is really relevant to playing trumpet - or indeed any instrument. (As I recall, this is the central idea from the book, The Inner Game of Music.) When we play, we should aim to give ourselves totally to the current performance, and try not to be distracted by, for instance, an earlier mistake, or the difficult passage coming up, or the girl jiggling at the front of the audience. (Having said that, I really don't want to discourage any girls from jiggling at the front - but it would be OK if they wouldn't mind continuing to jiggle in between the songs).

I really liked the words of Hideharu Onuma sensei - a kyudo master who I was reading about at He said: "When shooting, sometimes we will hit the target but miss the self. At other times we will miss the target but hit the self. Our purpose, though, is to hit the target as the self and hope that the sharp sound of arrow penetrating paper will awaken us from the so-called 'dream of life' and give us real insight into the ultimate state of being."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

good morning

Eughhh.. just finished an all-nighter preparing music for a recording session tomorrow. Oh I mean today. My brain is starting to malfronction... And it's still going to be pretty intense over the next couple of days I think, so I've got the fridge well stocked up with Red Bull. I must say, though, this project has been really fun!! I'll blog more about it when I get the nod from the Important People..

Saturday, June 17, 2006

This Monday: Eileen at the 606

Just a quick plug for my chum Eileen Hunter, who is once again playing at the 606 Club in Chelsea on Monday! Hopefully I'll be sitting in for a couple of tunes too.

Monday, June 05, 2006

X-Factor: Battle of the Stars

What better counterpoint to the tragic beauty of Puccini's Butterfly than being in the studio audience at ITV's X-Factor? Yea, broad indeed is the cultural firmament, and festooned with a myriad shimmering stars.

Anyhoo, my mate worked on the show and got us a couple of tickets for it on Saturday. As I'm a big Corrie fan, I was rather disappointed that the ex-Corrie actress, Nikki Sanderson had been voted off the night before. But as it happened, she was sitting one row behind us and just about two seats away (result!) However, I was much too shy to ask for her autograph.

I'm sure it won't surprise anyone who has seen the show to learn that we are told when to clap and cheer etc. - and that is basically for the entire 90 minutes, apart from when the judges are speaking. It was really quite exhausting. But despite this, I did enter into the spirit of it. Well mostly - not so much when those Chefs were.. er.. singing. My god they were crap. And somehow kind of scary. I really hate that attitude of 'ha ha, yes we know we're bad, but we're fun!' As Louis put it: 'You're like four drunks at a wedding.'

I haven't been following it through the week, but if these Chefs made it through to the final four, I dread to think how bad some of the previously eliminated acts must have been. The good news was that they were finally voted off this time. The bad news, however, was that this entitled them to one last farewell performance, so we had to endure once more.

Well, I'm moaning, but the show is actually a lot of fun, I must say. I just could have done without those four guys leaping about and yelling at us.

It seems I made it on to air - apparently they skimmed past me at the beginning of the show. Hope they got my best side.

Incidentally, does anyone else find it odd that there are entries in wikipedia for people like Ms Sanderson and Mr Walsh?

Madam Butterfly at the E.N.O.

A few years ago, I was sitting in a music history class in college, and the teacher was talking about Puccini, and in particular, Madam Butterfly. He briefly told us the story, and then showed us a clip from a film of the opera: when it's three years since Pinkerton left, and Cho Cho San is chastising her maid for not having faith that he will return. And so, she sings Un bel di vedremo - 'One fine day we shall see'. It was so moving: even just seeing that moment from the middle of the film - it really affected me. And since then, whenever I even just think of the story, I get all choked up!

So at last I went to see it last week. It must sound strange, but I was almost dreading it - I don't know how I imagined I might react, but I thought that it might be somehow unbearably moving to see it in the flesh. In fact, I think it could have been, but as the tragic ending approached, I'm afraid I couldn't help detaching myself from it a little; it just would have been too much.

This E.N.O. production is really beautiful. The opening is particularly striking: there is compete silence as Cho Cho San emerges at the back of the sloping stage and floats gracefully towards us. Cho Cho San's child is realised using bunraku, which is a style of Japanese puppet theatre. Although the puppeteers are completely visible, they achieve such a level of expression that it's very easy to forget them and just to regard the puppet as a character in the same world as the characters played by the human performers.

That's only the second opera I've ever been to - the first one was so long ago that I'm ashamed to admit that I can't even remember what it was! I think that what put me off for a long time was that it seemed like you had to know the story very well before you went, because it's quite hard to pick up every word sung - even when it's sung in English. But these days there are surtitles (at least, at the E.N.O. there were) so this really shouldn't put anyone off anymore.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Only Child

I recently finished doing the music for another short animated film by Jason Ruddy. Only Child is a poem about a lonely little girl, Petunia, who longs for a little brother, and Jason has animated the story. Jason has Paul Kaye reading the poem. (Mr Kaye also appeared in the Miss Marple episode I worked on recently - small world and all that.)

As this was a poetry reading, I decided to use solo piano. The story is set in a family home, so again I thought piano was appropriate. I used a great piano patch from Post Musical Instruments which they call 'The Old Lady' - it's a 1923 Steinway, and has a great deal of character. Using Kontakt 2's scripting facilities, it implements sympathetic resonance, so that non-struck keys sound if their string is currently undamped and they are harmonically related to a struck key. Or something.. anyhoo, it sounds good.

I understand that Jason is still polishing the film - watch this space for further developments..

Friday, May 19, 2006

Scenes of a Sexual Nature in Cannes

This film, which I orchestrated for and played trumpet on, was shown in Cannes the other day. I don't know at present when it will be on general release - watch this space! (Or better yet, watch this space!)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Piano found on Ben Nevis

How odd. Judging by this picture, I'm not sure how they could tell that this object had indeed once been a piano. The full story is well worth a read.

My sister recently bought a piano and is having terrible difficulty finding someone to take it up the stairs. Pity the people who delivered this one didn't leave their card. (Mind you, her stairs are a bit narrower than Ben Nevis.)

update 18/05/2006: Success! Kate's piano is now safely installed in it's new home upstairs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This Sunday on ITV: Miss Marple

The Miss Marple episode which I worked on will be showing this Sunday (April 30th) at 9pm on ITV. Here's the blah about it from the ITV listings. (Just in case I have any visitors from the US, I think it shows there on PBS on July 23rd.)

The episode has a very creepy feel to it, which Dominik's music enhances greatly, so definitely a nice way to spend your Sunday evening.

I'd also like to apologise to all my regular readers for not blogging much recently: sorry Stu. There, that's done.

Monday, April 17, 2006

This Tuesday: Eileen at the 606

Just a quick plug for my good chum Eileen Hunter, who is playing at the 606 Club in Chelsea on Tuesday April 18th.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Request for friends

Just set up a new MySpace account, but every time I look at my profile there it says 'Angus has no friends', which is a little hurtful (and quite uncalled for).

So if anyone out there is on MySpace, please add me as a friend so I can feel better about myself.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Big Band Gig this Saturday!

I'll be playing with the John Ongom Big Band at the Heathcote Arms in Leytonstone (map) this Saturday (8th April), from 8pm.

It will be mostly tunes from the swing era - Count Basie, Frank Sinatra.. that kind of stuff.

Entrance is free, so please come along!

Miss Marple: The Sittaford Mystery

I've been doing a couple more night shifts working for composer Dominik Scherrer. Dominik has scored the music for the recent Miss Marple films starring Geraldine McEwan, which have been showing on ITV. The latest one that he has been working on is called The Sittaford Mystery, and he asked me to help out by doing editing and mix preparation at his studio on Brick Lane. There was alot to do: around 46 cues amounting to an hour of music, but there are not many distractions when you work through the night, so I just kept on ploughing though it.

At the risk of sounding like a brown-noser, I think Dominik did a great job with the music for this, and I really recommend looking out for it when it airs.

I'm also pleased to report that I discovered a great place for full English breakfast in the morning (I decided my usual place, Ponti's, was a bit drafty). There's a huge Wetherspoons pub at Liverpool Street station called Hamilton Hall, and their breakfasts are very fine and also excellent value for money.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Saturday Nights at the Bohemia Café

Another great jam I often attend is run by Pierluca Taranta at the Bohemia Café in Hackney (map) on Saturday nights. The house band is Luca on guitar, plus bass and drums - last night it was Lance and Vladimiro. The music starts at around 9pm and goes on till after midnight.

Last night was a quite special night for me, as most of my family came along to eat and to enjoy the music. Luca's trio started the night with several standards. They sounded so good that I must admit it was a little daunting to be the first to go up and join them. But I wasn't sure if my folks would want to stay right to the end of the evening so I thought I should play something before the band took a break. As it turned out, there was no hurry, as once my sisters and mother got into the red wine there was no stopping them.

A few other musicians played a tune or two after the break. I particularly enjoyed the contributions from violinist Maria Bruccheri, and from the singer and oud player from Turkey (oops I seem to have mislaid his name) who rounded off the evening with some wonderful middle eastern music.

So I really recommend coming along on a Saturday night, whether to join in, or just to listen - the music is great, the food is great (and very reasonable), and the atmosphere is very friendly.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Jazz Jam at the Am

I'm an occasional participant in the jazz jam sessions at the Amersham Arms in New Cross (map) on Thursday nights. The night is run by tenor player, Colin Humphries (pictured), and the vibe is always very friendly, and the music very good!

Now this jam has its very own blog, run by Rob Kenyon. Rob is a great photographer, so the blog is mainly a scrapbook of photos of the many musicians who attend.

The jam runs from around 9:45pm till 1am. Free entry before 10pm and £3 after that (I think - but don't quote me).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

It Fell from the Sky wins!

I'm pleased to report that one of the films I wrote the music for, It Fell from the Sky, has won the Best Animation Award at the Screentest Festival. So congratulations to the animator, Jason Ruddy. I understand that as a result, the film will now be shown at the Raindance Film Festival later this year.

Here's the film if you'd like to see it:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cat Incident #2

So, continuing my series of cat incidents, here's a cutting from the Boston Herald, when there was a fire in my apartment building and I grabbed my flatmate's cat on my way out.

You can't tell from the photo, but it was snowing a bit, so one of the firefighters gave me and Milké (that's the cat) a blanket. I suppose that 'worried-looking guy holding cute kitten wrapped in blanket' was an obvious target for the photographer. Click on the image for a larger, readable version.

I haven't had any dramatic cat incidents since, but I'll let you know as soon as the next one happens. (This one was almost 3.5 years ago, so I am probably due for one any day now...)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A New Toy

I bought myself a didgeridoo yesterday. Last year I was messing around on one lent to me by my lovely neighbour. (In fact, she lent it to me at her Christmas soirée of 2004, and I finally returned it at her Christmas soirée of 2005. Sorry about that, Linda.)

I was in Camden anyway and had some time to kill, so I went to Ray Man Ethnic Musical Instruments on Chalk Farm Road. Such an interesting shop! I could have happily spent hours and hours there, shaking, hitting, plucking and blowing things. But I didn't have hours, so I just blew on a few didges, picked one, and went on my way. Happily, I managed to get it home through the Camden crowds without poking anybody in the groin with it.

At the moment, I think I can get a reasonable sound out of it (at least to my ears - probably not to a real didge afficionado), but of course the whole thing of playing the didgeridoo is the circular breathing, which I can't do yet. Maybe I'll post an mp3 when I get the hang of it, but it seems it is going to take me a lot of practice. So don't hold your breath.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Phew! Exciting Film Project Completed

The score for the Exciting Film Project was delivered on Friday, so finally I have a little time to blog more about it.

It's really been a crazy couple of weeks. First of all working on the orchestrations for Dominik's music (along with the other orchestrator, Richard Hammarton). Then we had to record everything. I already blogged a little bit about recording the strings, and on the same day we recorded woodwinds (all played by Andy Findon), and the trumpet (me), all at Dominik's Crimson Noise studio. To get a nice big trumpet section sound, we often layered three or even six of me on top of each other. Further recordings of vocals and rhythm section took place over the next two or three days.

I've been working nights for the final week, editing the recordings and generally preparing the cues for Dominik to mix the next day. I would get to the studio at 9pm, and work through till around 7am the next morning. Then I was off to Ponti's in Liverpool Street station for a big fry-up (which was very good, apart from that the restaurant was freezing). Incidentally, I found working nights to be a pretty unusual experience: usually, life seems to be clearly divided into days, but while I was on this schedule, this delineation disappeared; I appreciated how time was just a constant flow. Hmmmmm.. Sad to say, I was so busy contemplating this coming home one morning, that I managed to leave my glasses on the train. (So if you happen to find a pair of black-rimmed Specsavers' glasses between Liverpool Street and Chingford, please let me know.)

A final flurry of activity on the last night/day: Dominik asked me to write and play one or two final trumpet bits for the credits music - and then I was done.

So it's been pretty hard work, and I had to put my regular life on hold for a while, but of course I am very happy to have been involved in such a project (sorry - I'm still not supposed to go into details about it - as soon as I can, I will!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Latest on the Exciting Film Project

I've been really busy over the past couple of weeks working on the exciting film project.

A few days ago we recorded the violins at Angel Studios. Dominik, the composer, asked me to conduct one of the cues - it was a really big thrill for me to conduct such wonderful players, and in such a posh studio! To be honest, I was a little nervous, but the players were so professional, it went quite smoothly I think.

I have to rush off again now, so I'll catch up with other stuff soon!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rachel Jenkins Duo

(Blimey, I've gone blog-mad today, me.)

So having rocked the joint in my Japanese class (see below), I zipped across town to Greenwich to sit in with jazz singer Rachel Jenkins.

Oliver's (or perhaps it was Olivier's - hmmm..) is a really nice little basement bar in Nevada Street in Greenwich. The toilets were reminiscent of Frodo's house in Hobbiton (in a good way). The beer was expensive, but the atmosphere was really cosy and intimate - perfect for Rachel's tender vocals and Pierluca Taranta's sensitive comping on guitar.

The duo performed some of the classic jazz songs such as Cheek to Cheek and Them There Eyes, as well as some songs from other genres, such as (Sitting on) The Dock of the Bay and Natural Woman. I joined them on stage shortly before the end of the first set, and really enjoyed to play with them. We were also accompanied for a couple of songs by Tonya (sp?) on djembe, and also by a gentleman on piano whose name I missed, I'm afraid, for a vigorous rendition of Moondance.

It was a really nice evening, and quite well-attended, I'm happy to say. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Hopefully I will get the chance to play with Rachel and Luca again soon..

Toranpetto ga Fukemasu

For some reason, I've been learning Japanese for a few years now (well.. I remember why I started, but we split up months ago.)

Our homework for yesterday's class was to prepare a speech about something we could do - because we've been studying potential forms - so I spoke about playing the trumpet. My teacher looked slightly alarmed because I had to ask before I started what the Japanese for 'vibrate' is. (In case you're wondering, it's furuemasu.)

So during my speech I gave a little demonstration.. For some reason I was really nervous - something about it being so out of place to be playing in that environment I suppose. I don't think it was quite my greatest ever performance, but nobody booed, thank goodness.

By the way, the title of this post means 'I can play the trumpet.' The Japanese for trumpet really is toranpetto. And the Japanese for ice cream is aisukuriimu, and beer is biiru. But be sure to say biiru, and not biru, or you will be asking for a building.

Trumpet lesson with Noel Langley

Noel is one of London's top session trumpeters, and is also professor of trumpet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. I believe he is currently playing lead trumpet in The Producers in the West End.

This was the first time I have met with Noel for a one-on-one lesson. We focused on the fundamentals, particularly a good warm-up, including mouthpiece buzzing and long tones. He also talked about being disciplined with one's practice routine - sitting down to practice at the same time every day, also trying to keep the environment in one's practice room as conducive as possible, e.g. keep the clutter down to a minimum!

Something that is curious to me is that Noel's philosophy of how we physically play the trumpet seems to differ somewhat from that of my previous teacher, Charles Lewis Jr., at Berklee. I.e. specifically, what you do (or don't do) with your airstream, tongue and lips in order to change pitch, and what you do (or don't do) to change volume. Both Noel and Charlie are such accomplished players, it would seem strange for me to start debating with them. Maybe they actually do play in quite distinct ways, or maybe they just have different ways of expressing the same thing. Or maybe (probably) I totally misunderstood one or other or both! Oh well, without perfecting the Vulcan mind-meld technique, perhaps I'll never know.

One thing both these guys certainly have in common is their encouragement and care for the student. I really appreciated Noel giving me some extra time as it was our first meeting to get to know what I've done and what I'm up to these days, and what I hope to achieve. Looking forward to hopefully meeting with him again next month.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Trombone Joke

Just heard Harry Connick Junior and Branford Marsalis exchanging trombone jokes on Radio 4:

What's the difference between a trombone and a trampoline?
- People take their shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

ha ha!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Friday Night at the Azteca

Another groovy night at the Azteca last night. Mauro and Pierluca doing their thing, with me and Fred joining them later on as the horn section. The music is mostly kind of funky electronica, I suppose, but recently has been going more and more ska, especially when Fred and I go up to play.

The Azteca is at 315 King's Road, SW3. Mauro and Luca play on Friday evenings from around 9. Come down and say hi!

Pierluca struts his stuff.

Wow, Mauro's arm looks hairy! (I'm sure it's just the angle.)

..And here's me and Fred: the Entente Cordiale Horns. (Hmm.. I just made that up (Fred is French), hopefully somebody will think of a better name for us.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Exciting-yet-mysterious film project

I'm currently working with composer Dominik Scherrer, who is writing the score for a forth-coming feature film. It's very exciting to be involved with this project, as there are some very well known actors appearing in it - but I'm afraid I can't say too much more about it at the moment..

Officially, I am supposed to be the orchestrator, but so far I've been helping out in any way I can: e.g. being an extra pair of ears at recording sessions, carrying heavy stuff, keeping track of takes, making tea, editing takes, and generally shoving my oar in. I've also been playing trumpet on a couple of cues.

I'll have more to post about this project as it progresses (and hopefully it won't all be about who I made cups of tea for).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cat Incident #1

I saw a story on MSN yesterday, where a cat dials 911, and is declared a hero. Funnily enough, a similar thing happened to me several years ago, when my cat, Mooca, dialled 999 from my flat. The difference being that Mooca wasn't so much a hero, as some other four-letter word. Anyway, I had a special request from my friend to blog the newspaper clipping, so here it is.

This clipping is from the Daily Mail (click for larger version). The Sun included a photo of me in their article, but I look like a complete dork, so I think I'll let Mooca take all the limelight.

I had another emergency services/cat related incident about three years ago, but I think I'll save that for another day..