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!