Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Boy With The Thorne By His Side

I played a Freedom Principle gig down at the Revise Bar in Chorlton last Saturday with Sam Andreae on sax, Fin Panter on drums and late substitute Jon Thorne (Lamb) on double bass - we don't really have a name as yet. It was intended to be a loose low key improv thing with Sam providing us with a few recorded grooves and we just do as we see fit, so we hadn't really rehearsed. We figured as Jon had come in at the last moment however that we better do a few standards so we threw a few in for the first set.

It was a really cool gig and went down really well, even if I do say so myself. The first set was more standards based and had it's moments but I think we really hit the spot in the second set when we went for the groove improv thing big time. There was plenty of intense Miles style Bitches Brew digging in over some jazzy funky grooves from Fin. A take on Bonobo's 'Between the Lines' and a version of the Mr Scruff / Moondog 'Get a Move On' went down particularly well. A somewhat scruffy encore slant on a White Stripes track rounded the set off nicely.

Everyone in the band seems keen so we're intending to take it forward and get some more gigs. Jon promises to bring some effects pedals for the next one so that should be interesting. Thanks to Joe Jones from the Moss Freed Sextet for being especially positive and everyone else who made it down for this first outing. Join the Freedom Principle Facebook group if you want to hear about any future gigs.

A bit of rough and ready video from the gig:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mike Walker Interview on ALL FM

A world exclusive tonight on mine and Sam Andreae's EXR Jazz Unsigned radio show on ALL FM. We've got guitarist Mike Walker coming in with sax player Iain Dixon. Mike's new and first CD, 'Madhouse and the Whole Thing There' is at last finally completed and will be available soon from Jazz CDs. We'll be interviewing Mike and Iain about the new CD and playing some tracks. This will be the first time any of the material from the CD will have been aired so we're really excited to have this exclusive. Mike is not one short for words and there's quite a story behind the CD so we should be in for an entertaining show.

We'll also be playing tracks from a couple of new Manchester jazz ska bands, Skamel and Baked A La Ska . Like buses these new jazz ska bands. There'll also be the usual listings for the next couple of months and a few previews from the last two.

Listen online or tune in if you can. The show runs from 11pm to 1am tonight.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I've been in film mode for the last couple of days. Yesterday I went to the Cornerhouse to check out the new Mike Leigh film, 'Happy-Go-Lucky' which was introduced by the director himself and followed by a Q&A with Mike and one of the actresses, Kate O'Flynn who played Suzy in the film.

I'm pleased to report that it's a great fun film with a lot of laughs without being flippant and overly light. It tells the story of Poppy, a thirty year old primary school teacher renting a flat in Finsbury Park who goes about being happy, positive and generally getting on with life. A quite intentional aspect of the film is that she at first appears quite surface to the point of being annoying but you soon realise that she has great wit and intelligence and has a very positive influence on her friends and the world around her. Actress Sally Hawkins who plays Poppy gives a great performance full of charm and humour whilst delivering the more serious scenes with the perfect balance. The film was also a fab little nostalgia trip for me as it was set very near where I used to live in north Camden.

It was interesting to follow with a question and answer session that illuminated on some of the themes of the film. Mike confirmed that he wanted to show a more positive outlook than portrayed in many of his previous films but without ignoring the fact that Poppy is living in the same tough world, the difference being that she deals with life's difficulties in her own way. He also talked about his method of film making using improvisation around ideas and themes, in this case for six months before doing any filming. One questioner suggested that the film is quite feminist potraying women as succeeding in coping with life and the men the one's struggling, a view that Mike agreed with. He also talked about the somewhat ironic fact that he's seen by many as the London film maker despite being from Salford. He said that he'd like to make more films in the north but that it's too expensive up here and actually cheaper in London. This does seem very surprising but he didn't explain why this is the case. It would be a great shame for film making in Manchester if this is generally true. All in all it was a great evening and I'm really glad I went along.

The film theme unexpectedly continued into today. I've just got back from having lunch with my other half and a good mate Helle at the Continental Cafe in West Didsbury where lo and behold, legendary director Ken Loach was there having lunch as well. There were rumours he would be at the Q&A last night as he's in Manchester making a film at the moment. I'm not sure what the film is about or where this is happening. Somewhere near West Didsbury perhaps? Maybe some film buff could let me know.