Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh Come All Ye Tasteless

To put you in the festive mood, here's a beautiful Christmas carol brutally murdered by an unidentified gang of trumpeters. Enjoy.

(Another clip purloined from here.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Forthcoming Big Band gigs

Tomorrow night, I'll be conducting the John Ongom Big Band at the Heathcote Arms pub, 344 Grove Green Road, E11 4EA. Featuring vocalists Gabrielle Ghray, Barry Vegas and the Toot Sweet trio. Starts 8pm, admission free.

Then on Sunday night, I'll be playing with the London Swingfonia at the Marie Lloyd bar of the Hackney Empire. 8:30pm start I think, also free!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Moncrieff's Bar Opened

Last night was the official opening of the newly refurbished cafe bar at the Press Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, which is named Moncrieff's, in honour of my Dad, Chris Moncrieff, who has worked as a reporter there for 40+ years.

The proceedings were kicked of by the Chairman of the Press Gallery, Brian Shallcross, and then the Speaker, Michael Martin, said a few words. Then it was Dad's turn, who began by remarking: 'This bar must be unique in history in that is has been formally opened by a teetotaller, and named after a man who hasn't had strong drink for a quarter of a century. Despite that I have every confidence that this bar will live up to the disreputable reputation of its predecessors.'

He went on to recount some of the most famous feats of drinking and debauchery to have occurred in the previous incarnations of the Press Gallery bar. You can hear his full speech here.

Above the bar itself, there is an illuminated etching of my dad, in his customary attitude walking along with notebook in hand. It's quite clever, I think, how the designer has - with just a few well placed lines - managed to capture the rather unusual way that suits tend to hang on him.

There was an article about all this in the Independent a couple of weeks ago - here.

My other photos of this event are here. Sorry, they're pretty terrible.

18/12/2007 Edit: another article and better photo here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scenes - this Saturday on BBC1

Scenes of a Sexual nature (which was my first big screen credit!) will air this Saturday, 17th November on BBC1 at 10:50pm.

It's a comedy set on Hampstead Heath one sunny afternoon, featuring various couples and their various issues with love and sex. Stars a whole bunch of British stars, including Ewan McGregor, Catherine Tate, Sophie Okonedo, Eileen Atkins and Andrew Lincoln.

I worked as orchestrator and trumpet player on this (plus I did a little conducting and music editing) with composer Dominik Scherrer.

Friday, November 09, 2007

How to Make a Trumpet - 2

Quite a few people who come to this blog have googled "how to make a trumpet" and found my post of December 2006 which linked to a video of a visit to the Benge trumpet factory. Unfortunately, that video has now been taken down from YouTube, so in the interests of giving the people what they want, I've found this video of a visit to the Yamaha trumpet factory in Japan. It's all a bit cheesy, and obviously a huge advert for Yamaha, but anyway, it's pretty nice I s'pose. A bit different from the previous video - the Yamaha factory is all computers and robots.

If the above link doesn't work, try here and look for the Jens Lindemann podcast. I'll not embed it cos it's 71MB.

bloody buskers..

..just kidding - these guys are great!

(Or click here.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

forthcoming gigs

Just to plug a couple of mates: on Thursday 8th November, Steve Brookstein will be doing his Great American Soul Book show at the 606 Club, with Eileen Hunter supporting. The fantastic Liane Carroll will be guesting for a number. Alas I can't make it along this time :(

And on Sunday 11th Nov I'll be MDing (and playing a bit I think) the John Ongom Big Band at the White Hart pub on Mile End Road (map), featuring Gabrielle Ghray and Toot Sweet on vocals. Entry free!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Today's listening

Ahh... nothing like a beautiful rendition of the Hummel Trumpet Concerto. Enjoy.

Allegedly this turned up as a pre-audition tape for the Boston Symphony. More unusual stuff here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I recently purchased Walter White's Long Tones Accompaniment CD. It contains three 20-minute long tracks, each on a different key centre, so you can sit there and play a 20-minute long G (or C, or whatever). Duke Ellington's famous screaming trumpet player, Cat Anderson, advocated this excercise, and it still finds favour among many of today's top brass players.

It might seem unnecessary to have a CD to play along to but I think it greatly helps me keep focused on the exercise. The music's a bit 'new age' - I doubt I'd choose to listen to it for it's own sake - but it's really good for the long tones: very calming, and the ten bar chunks (play eight, rest two) keep you regular.

A couple of tips for an extra-zen experience:
- Turn off the lights
- Play through a nice reverb. I use Audioease's Altiverb, which means I can sit and play in a virtual Notre Dame Cathedral (or if you can practice in an actual cathedral, that's even better).
- Put on the iTunes visualizer, or kick off Soundstream - a screensaver (for OSX) which responds to sound input - psychedelic.

Oh, and btw, it helps your embouchure!

Monday, September 17, 2007

This season's website fashions

Incredibly, I've actually finally got around to revamping my website. Take a look! What a PITA - bloody image rollovers!! Bloody safari!! GRRRRRR...!! Anwyay, hope it works and everything, but if you spot something that doesn't, or a typo, please let me know!

Many thanks to my mate Russell for helping out with the design-y stuff!! I owe you a beer.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eclipse Trumpets Trip

Went on a fun trip to the Eclipse Trumpet Factory the other day with my chum, Jake Painter. Both of us are thinking about buying new trumpets and we thought we'd check these instruments out, which seem to be very popular at the moment.

So we drove up the M1 to an industrial estate in Luton where we were greeted by Leigh McKinney, the owner of the company. We were shown in to the testing room (pictured) where freshly made trumpets featuring the various bell options available were laid out on a long bench. These instruments were unfinished (i.e. uncoated) and slightly rough around the edges - they get completed to your specific requirements when you decide to buy one. After a short introduction by Leigh, we were left to our own devices.

They certainly are beautiful instruments! They blew very easily, and had a beautiful sound. Jake and I both liked the Medium Yellow brass bell best (which I think is their 'standard' instrument, and best seller). However they are a little expensive for rush decisions, and I think I'd like to try out some other brands before I buy anything.

One thing I really appreciated was the large room we had for playing in - so often when you go to try an instrument in a shop, you are shown in to a tiny room, often full of stock, with very little acoustic life in it, but that was not the case here at all. I also liked Leigh's very straightforward and helpful manner - strangely not always the case in all music shops.

So I didn't come away with a lovely new trumpet this time, but did get a free Eclipse towel and T-shirt.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Forthcoming gigs and things

I'm going to try using .mac and iCal for my forthcoming gigs - I'm much more likely to keep that up to date than that thing on Myspace... So, here they are (if it works).

Next one is with the Broken Bass Dance Band at Jitterbugs - Stern Hall, 33 Seymour Place, London W1H 5AU - on Wednesday 12th September at 7pm. £10 I think, which includes a Lindy Hop lesson.

Edit: Unfortunately, this gig on the 12th is now cancelled.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Trip to Puglia, Italy

Just returned from a week's holiday in Puglia in Italy. Not quite sure what to do with all my photos because flickr is not letting me upload any more unless I pay :(. Anyway, here are a few of my better ones..

We stayed in a village called Giugianello - this is a view from our roof.

Some of the ceilings in our building were beautifully painted.

Here's our room, as seen from a horizontal position in bed.


One day we rented a boat from Castro and went up and down the coast a bit. Here's a little phone-movie I took when Rachel was driving - the occasional outbursts are when we suddenly got soaked by a wave..

Friday, August 03, 2007

Eileen Hunter at the 606

Had a really nice evening at the 606 Club last night, where Eileen Hunter and her hubby Steve Brookstein were playing. As you can see from the pic, Eileen is the cover girl for this month's 606 flier!

Eileen did two great sets, a mixture of standards and originals from her album. She kindly invited me to play on a few tunes, including the couple that I arranged for her: Black Coffee and My Baby Just Cares for Me. Also sitting in for one was singer Linley Weir, who sang a really lovely up tempo latin song she'd written.

I also very much enjoyed Steve's set in the middle of Eileen's two. He did some soul classics as well as some originals with a small mainly acoustic band. It all had a wonderful off-the-cuff feel which made the whole thing feel very intimate.

Looking forward to their forthcoming gig at the Pizza Express on 28th August..

(Btw if you happen to make a trip to the 606, I do highly recommend the prawns starter.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

how do you like them apples?

I took this picture at the Brent Respect Festival, where I was playing with the Spanner Jazz Punks. I believe this piece was called 'Before Newton'. The festival also featured the world's largest finger painting, and a bunch of people dancing round a maypole.

Also been busy participating in no less than four events at the Leytonstone Festival: playing with the London Swingfonia, Aneesa Chaudhry, the John Ongom Big Band, and at the Loaded Dog jam, which featured the marvellous Dick Pearce on trumpet as special guest.

The gig with Aneesa was with her new group: a kind of mini-big band with rhythm section and four horns. As well as playing trumpet I did the arranging - mostly downsized versions of existing big band arrangements. We also recently played at Pizza on the Park (which was sold out!)

Also been busy writing and producing music for the trailer for Lady Godiva - Back in the Saddle, a forthcoming British comedy. Not sure where or when the trailer will be in the cinemas..

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

forthcoming gigs and stuff

Oh dear haven't blogged for ages.. I've been busy playing quite a bit, doing gigs with two different big bands: the London Swingfonia and the Spanner Jazz Punks. Also been doing quite a bit of transcribing/arranging work for a couple of forthcoming projects.

OK, plug #1: Anjali Perin is playing at the 606 tomorrow night, with my wonderful girlfriend, Rachel Musson sitting in on tenor.

plug #2: This Sunday at 7:30pm, the John Ongom Big Band will be playing at the White Hart pub on Mile End Road (map), featuring Mark Jennett and the Toot Sweet trio on vocals (I'll be MDing).

plug #3: Hmmm.. it's a bit weird to plug two different simultaneous events, but also on Sunday evening, my chum Eileen Hunter will be playing at the 606. She'll be there again on 2nd August.

plug #4: 22nd June, I'll be playing with Riamba at the National Portrait Gallery. In the afternoon I think.

Oh blimey that'll do for now.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Fox Hunt - Maynard Ferguson

Wow what a clip! Seems like these guys have drunk way too much coffee.

edit: oh wait a minute - they're all Maynard aren't they? In that case it's just him who's had way way way way too much coffee.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More arm-waving

Been pretty busy with the John Ongom Big Band recently. Last Sunday we played a charity gig for Breast Cancer at Jongleurs in Bow Wharf, and I'll be waving my arms around in front of them once again this coming Sunday at the White Hart Pub (map), starting from 7:30. This time our singers will be Gabrielle Ghray and Barry Vegas. Entrance is free so please come along!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Life Line - this Tuesday BBC1

Look out for Life Line, on BBC1 this Tuesday 24th and Thursday 26th evenings. It's a two-part (well, obviously) supernatural love story starring Joanne Whalley and Ray Stevenson. I assisted Dominik Scherrer with the score, doing the notation, plus editing and a spot of orchestration.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Big band gig this Sunday!

I'll be conducting the John Ongom Big Band this Sunday evening at the White Hart Pub (map). Entry is free, so please come along!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Groovy video

Here's a nice little film made by the University of Salford all about the physics of brass and reed instruments. Includes slowed down footage of someone playing trumpet with a glass mouthpiece, so you can see the individual vibrations, plus the Professor squeezing out a tune on a whoopee cushion harmonica.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

DVDs on amazon

Gosh! How terrible, I haven't blogged for a whole month! I've been really busy working on a couple of TV things, doing the music copying, audio editing and a bit of orchestration and playing.

Anyhoo, thought I'd mention that a couple of things I worked on previously have recently become available on DVD.

First there's Scenes of a Sexual Nature, starring Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo, Catherine Tate et al. It's a romantic comedy set on Hampstead Heath. I had to sign a release because apparently there might be a picture of me in the recording studio somewhere in the DVD extras - so if anybody buys this I'd be interested to know if they can see me!

Also there's Primeval Series 1, starring Douglas Henshall. Gotta say I'm a bit fan of this series, so perhaps I'll add it to my amazon wishlist!

Monday, February 26, 2007

John Ongom big band

I've recently taken over as musical director of the John Ongom big band, and we've got a gig coming up at the White Hart, 1 Mile End Road, London, E1 4TP (map). It's on Sunday 4th March, probably starting around 7:30. I'm not looking forward to doing the talking bits, but there we are. If anyone sees this and comes along, please don't heckle me.

I'd also like to give a plug for my chum, jazz singer Eileen Hunter, who is playing at the 606 Club on this Thursday, 1st March. Alas, I won't be able to make it myself. :(

Monday, February 05, 2007

Primeval coming this Saturday

Look out for Primeval, which will be broadcast this coming Saturday, 10th February at 7:45pm on ITV1.

Quite excited about this, as I worked with composer Dominik Scherrer on this series last Summer, doing orchestration, programming and playing trumpet.

ITV have also got their Primeval micro-site up and running here (it's pretty heavy on bandwidth though).

Friday, February 02, 2007

Trip to Rome

Just got back from a short visit to Rome with my Roman friend, Pierluca.

I was only there for three nights, so Luca suggested we make an early start on the sightseeing. So as soon as we got chucked out of the bar on the first night, he and his cousins took me on an early-hours tour, during which we saw the Forum, the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. I'm afraid the photos I took during this tour are particularly fuzzy - I think because of the low level of light (and I only have my phone camera). Or perhaps it's got something to do with all the beer I drank earlier.

Unfortunately, I think perhaps I peaked too soon as the next day I didn't get out sightseeing again till about 4 in the afternoon. I decided to go on one of those tourist bus tours. The first half was fine, but then darkness fell and it got pretty freezing, but I doggedly persevered with it for the full two hours.

On Wednesday, Luca and I managed to get out and about incredibly early but alas, found that our intended destination, the Sistine Chapel, had closed at midday. But we looked around St Peter's, and went to the very top (the highest point in Rome, I think).

During the rest of the afternoon we visited Trastevere, the Pantheon again, and saw Area Sacra Argentina and admired some of the 350 feral cats who live amongst the Roman ruins there (if you click on the photo on the left, you'll see a couple of them). We went on to the Tridente, the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo.

I've uploaded all my photos here (please excuse my crappy photography).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ooh I'm all excited!

Just saw a trailer for ITV's new sci-fi drama, Primeval, right after tonight's first instalment of Coronation Street (OK, I admit it, I'm a fan). I worked on the music for Primeval last year, doing most of the orchestration and programming, and also playing trumpet on it.

They're not saying yet when it's on, just that it's coming soon..

OK, better get back to the TV for the next instalment of Corrie (hope Chesney and Schmeichel turn up...)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mark Levine's The Jazz Piano Book

My piano playing is certainly not all it should be, so I put The Jazz Piano Book by Mark Levine on my Christmas Amazon wish list. (This is how we do present buying in my family these days - perhaps some of the excitement is lost, but people do actually receive presents which they want, and no-one has to traipse around the shops on Christmas Eve.) And sure enough, one of my lovely sisters generously clicked on it.

Flicking through, I came across this bit, which I really liked:

Sitting at the piano for eight hours every day may not make you a better musician if you're not practicing the right things. As an example, I once discovered a method book of strange intervalic exercises. It was rumored that 'Coltrane practiced out of this book,' much as it was rumored that 'Bird practiced out of Nicolas Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales' in the 1940s and 50s. It took me about six hours to go through the book the first day, but after a week I was going through the book about six times a day, driving my neighbors bananas I'm sure. Finally, someone walking past my door shouted 'For Pete's sake, play a bossa nova!'

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bored (and sleepy)

This week I've been busy doing the notation for the recording of the score for a popular ITV drama.. Now I'm sitting here at 4:14 am waiting for the score and parts to print off...

78 more pages to go

..ho hum...

77 more pages to go

...What to do... what to do...?

76 more pages to go's about time I invested in a laser printer..

75 more pages to go

..I suppose I could browse Amazon for laser printers..

74 more pages to go

..but that sounds terribly boring too.

73 more pages to go