Another year, another amazing December gig at the Hammersmith Apollo. Thanks to these gigs, I am now on first name terms with at least one astronaut, and have played my own weird brand of melodic electro jazz freakery (or something) to 4500 unsuspecting science and comedy fans on a yearly basis.
This year, I brought the full HCB along again, and we closed the show with a rendition of No Stars from Twin Peaks then Murder on the Dancefloor with the absolutely lovely Sophie Ellis Bextor. I thought it'd be fun to march out through the crowd, so that's what we did...
Here's a video of the last bit; spot the cameos by some of the world's leading scientists and comedians.
In autumn 2017 I produced and mixed backing tracks for the new pBuzz education method. The pBuzz is a new plastic instrument from the makers of the best-selling plastic trombone the pBone. It's aimed specifically at beginners, so it was fun producing these tracks, written by Kay Charlton.
The recording (trumpet, pBuzz, vocals), production and mixing were all done at my studio, and Warwick Music, publisher of the method and manufacturer of the instrument, were delighted with the results, which have gone out to lots of schools across the UK.
In April and December 2017 I had fun producing the audio for the legendary Peter Buckley-Hill's show recordings. In a mammoth act of endurance for a man who hasn't been well, he performed both his song show (featuring all of the songs he's written over his many years as a stand up), and his all-haiku show on the same night, back in April 2017. Then in December, he performed his two act, completely bonkers but brilliant show entirely based around the song My Old Man's A Dustman.
PBH is a true original, and of course hero (and I guess to some, occasional villain, but that is not my experience, and not relevant to his status as a pioneer and legend) of the Edinburgh fringe, having started the PBH Free Fringe, which changed the landscape of the entire festival. It was a pleasure working with him, and looking forward to doing so again in March 2018, when we record his 70th birthday show, again at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
Meanwhile, here is the song show in all its mad glory (video editing by Chris Lince).
In November 2017 I was in Ugly Chief at the Battersea Arts Centre, after a successful preview tour in the spring.
It's a really interesting show by Victoria Melody and her dad, Mike Melody. I was part of a small band, playing trumpet, percussion, singing and doing a tiny bit of what could loosely be described as 'acting'.
It got universally glowing reviews from all over the shop, and we're touring more in Spring 2018. It's a pleasure working with Vic and Mike, and look forward to getting out on the road with the team again soon.
I directed the second instalment of the incredible On Mass at the Roundhouse. After the enormous success of the first one in 2015, which featured special guests Jamie Cullum and Tim Exile, it was a privilege to work with the great Angelique Kidjo this time around.
It was even more ambitious before, with an incredible 180 musicians, dancers and circus performers from the UK, India, Brazil and the Faroe Islands. It was a pleasure working with the whole team, and it was also fun to work with Lina Johansson (movement director) for the first time. She put together a really dynamic visual show which worked brilliantly with the music.
Plans are currently afoot for the next instalment, I believe, and I'm sure it'll be even more ambitious once again!
You can watch the whole live stream here:
Chris approached me backstage at Robin Ince and Brian Cox's superb Compendium of Reason show (where I was MDing and he was on a panel with Brian and some legit astrophysics legends), and suggested that we do something together. He's a fan of HCB, and a big music fan in general, and we realised that we are both very interested in, but very ignorant of one another's worlds. We thought that this enthusiasm and inquisitiveness might be shared by an audience, so in October 2017 we debuted the show at the Old Fire Station, Oxford, promoted by Science Oxford, which they called 'Big Bang to Big Band'.
We had a really lovely audience, and superb feedback. We've got a lot of polishing up to do, and I need to do a lot of practice with the brand new solo music setup which I have put together for this - which involves enough tech to give NASA a run for its money* - but the proof of concept is definitely there.
We're currently putting in some more dates for this project; hopefully one more before 2017 is done, then some more in early 2018. The idea is that we can then piggy back one another's existing gig schedules, meaning that we can get Chris to some rad music festivals and I can go to some awesome science festivals, plus everything in between.
*For those interested, this consists of my HCB pedalboard rig plus robot drummer, synths, weird remote triggers and things all running into Ableton Live. Super powerful. Once I learn how to use it properly.
HCB played a sold-out show at Koko, London on 26th May 2017. It was a really special evening, and made more poignant as they show took place just days after the devastating Manchester terror attack (see our tribute at 18.30).
We recorded the entire thing for posterity - all 108 minutes of it! We're really happy with how it's come out. What do you think?
Be sure to come to our biggest show yet, at the legendary Kentish Town Forum on 16th February. ROLL UP!
I am once again Musical Supervisor for the frankly extraordinary On Mass project at the Roundhouse, part of the London Jazz Festival 2017, and featuring very special guest Angelique Kidjo. I'm very excited to be working with Angelique and all 180 young people involved in the project. It's going to be absolutely amazing! Tickets available now for the show in the main space of the Roundhouse on 12th November.
In summer 2017 I played several dates with the brilliant Nat Osborn Band, mainly at jazz festivals in Eastern Europe and Italy. The mixed New York/Polish band are absolutely superb musicians, and Nat's quirky, catchy and very musical songs went down a storm, helped in no small part by Nat's excellent front man abilities.
It was a pleasure playing with these guys, and looking forward to more dates in 2018 and beyond.