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Different Strokes (again)

September 18, 2014

Quite a busy time for the remainder of September and also some gigs which couldn’t be more different from each other.

This weekend kicks off with a civilised jazz trio gig on sax playing for a wedding anniversary on a boat trip out of Exmouth. We dock at 6.30pm giving me exactly one hour to retrieve the car from whatever side street I’ve left it in, drive a couple of miles to Withycombe parish church where I am playing double bass with the EMG Symphony Orchestra. I’m having to miss the afternoon rehearsal but will have already left my bass and stool there. What could possibly go wrong?

On Sunday I’m with my trio again this time playing the Bay Horse in Totnes from 8.30pm. This will not be so civilised and with the excellent Matt Johns on keys and Jim Rintoul on bass we will be tackling some of my originals and some choice standards. This is followed by a couple of days of private saxophone teaching which kicks off bright and early on Monday morning with 3 solid hours from 9am.

Wednesday is relatively relaxed with only one thing in the diary, a rehearsal on bass with singer Jules Yount. I’ve really been enjoying working with her on a repertoire of covers, basically pop music, but stuff which Jules sounds great on singing and playing keys. We hope to do a gig or two before too long.

At the end of the week I’m playing local composer Emma Welton’s “Damage Limitation” for improvising ensemble. I will be part of two performances of the piece in Exeter at The Bike Shed Theatre: on Thursday on double bass before shooting off to an orchestra rehearsal and on Friday on sax before going on to my regular last Friday of the month gig at the City Gate Hotel just around the corner. Damage Limitation draws a parallel between the amount of carbon the world can burn to limit global warming and the number of notes that the ensemble of 10 players can play in 5 minutes. We also have a couple of minutes to decide how we are allocating the notes. For the gig at the City Gate I will be joined by James Clemas on keys and Mike Thorn on bass and we play in the conservatory from 7.30pm.

After more sax teaching on Saturday morning, I have a late gig in the evening at a Plymouth night club, playing sax with a DJ. This is something I did a year or so ago and ended up being deaf for a week so this time I’ve organised a small mixer for the microphone which will allow me to wear a big pair of isolating headphones. Hopefully this will reduce the ridiculously loud room sound from the DJ and at the same time allow me to hear myself on alto. It was certainly a bizarre gig last time and there were some sights!

I will survive!

Fishy Festival

September 13, 2014

All packed up ready to travel down to Brixham where my Latin jazz band Lighflight is playing this afternoon. Expecting parking problems and issues getting in and out if the festival site, I’m travelling light: tenor sax plus a small rucksack, no music stand; no sax stand; just charts for the band, a few CDs to sell (always optimistic!) and some spare reeds. I’m trusting that the sound engineers will have everything together monitor wise and for the one tune I’m not sure I have completely down, I’ve got a large print version to blu-tac to the stage floor.

Joining me on the gig are Matt Johns on keys, Jim Rintoul on bass and Ron Jones on drums and percussion. We are on the main stage from 2.30pm. Expect some seriously groovy Latin jazz. The festival features lots of bands, loads of seafood, cookery classes etc all for £5.

I’ve had my double bass tweaked this week by top luthier Martin Penning. The main job was to fit a Realist pick up but while I was up at his workshop in Frome I also got Martin to lower the string heights and adjust the sound post. This work and my recent change to lighter strings has made the bass easier to play especially up in thumb position. The sound post adjustment has also improved the sound giving the bass a lovely singing quality – the thing that first drew me to this bass when I tried it in the Martin workshop back in June. It sounds particularly good played pizzicato so I’m finding it hard to pick up the bow and have been enjoying playing melodies to jazz standards: Stella, My Romance, Autumn Leaves, Come Sunday etc. just need to work out how to play walking lines now …. Might take a while!

Bridge Jazz Club to continue in 2015

September 5, 2014

Good news for regulars at Exeter’s popular monthly jazz club at Exeter Phoenix: the club will continue in the same venue on the first Wednesday each month throughout 2015. Despite a moderate hike in room hire charges for the new year I’m hopeful that we will continue be able to balance the books and pay the house band properly each month. Numbers have been good for the last two club nights and hopefully this will continue into the autumn and new year.

The September club night was a great success with a house band of Matt Carter, Mike Isaac and Ric Byer accompanying me on tenor sax. As is often the case I was struggling to accommodate everyone who wanted to play in the jam session. At the start if the jam it looked like the people who had signed up to play could all play two tunes but a couple of slow tunes in and some long solos and the schedule was completely blown! Note to self: one tune per person then go around again if there’s time. Thanks to Ric, Matt and Mike plus all the great jammers: Andy S and Andy V on trumpet, singers Tansy & Crystal, Matt and Neil on guitar, Jade & Godfrey on sax and Ronnie on drums. Next club night is Wed 1st Oct when the house band will include piano maestro Matt Johns.

City Gate gig

September 3, 2014

Had a really good gig down at the City Gate Hotel last week, my usual trio slot on the last Friday of the month. With me on the gig were Matt Johns on keys and Jim Rintoul on double bass so a great rhythm section. Matt always has something creative to say in his solos, not to mention the weird and wonderful chord voicings he has a habit of dropping into his comping during solos: all of a sudden it’s “what on earth just happened” as you scrabble to find yourself again: all good fun. The good news is that the residency is continuing into 2015.

Tonight is Bridge Jazz Club at Exeter Phoenix where I will be joined in the house band by talented young pianist Matt Carter, electric bass whizz Mike Isaac and Ric Byer on drums. After the first set from us it’s the jam session. Music starts at 8.30pm and entry is £6 on the door or £3 for those taking part in the jam session.

I’m also out on Friday, playing a duo with fine pianist Philip Clouts at the Beehive in Honiton. We will be playing a couple of his originals and some of mine as well as some standards and less well known tunes. I’m playing soprano, alto and tenor on the gig and looking forward to it. Door entry is £8 and supper is available beforehand if you fancy it.

Autumn Gigs

August 28, 2014

Thought I’d post my public gig list for the autumn as it presently stands. The most up to date version will always be on my website at

Fri 29th Aug – Pete Canter Trio – 7.30pm -City Gate Hotel, Exeter -Fine jazz trio playing in the conservatory. Pete Canter – saxophone, Matt Johns – keys, Jim Rintoul – double bass. Listen from the garden if it’s fine. Free

Wed 3rd Sept -Bridge Jazz Club – 8.30pm – Exeter Phoenix, Voodoo Lounge – Pete Canter & Friends + jam session. All welcome. Bring your horn! Door charge £6 or £3 for jammers includes a raffle ticket to win CDs or wine. This month’s house band is Pete Canter on sax, talented young pianist Matt Carter, super electric bass player Mike Isaac and the excellent Ric Byer on drums.

Fri 5th Sept – Pete Canter & Philip Clouts – 8.00pm – The Beehive, Honiton. Fine saxophonist Pete Canter in duo with the amazing pianist Philip Clouts; jazz in the intimate atmosphere of this new community arts venue.

Sat 13th Sept – Pete Canter’s Lightflight – 2.30pm – Main Stage, Fishstock Festival, Brixham – Seriously groovy latin jazz quartet featuring Pete Canter on saxophones, Matt Johns keys, Jim Rintoul, bass, Ron Jones, drums & percussion.

Sat 20th Sept - EMG Symphony Orchestra – Wythicombe, Exmouth – 7.30pm -Playing double bass with the fantastic EMG Symphony Orchestra. Programme includes Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Handel Organ Concerto, Vivaldi Double Mandolin Concerto

Sun 21st Sept – Pete Canter Trio -8.30pm – Bay Horse, Totnes -Contemporary jazz originals and choice standards. Pete Canter (saxophones) Jim Rintoul (bass) & Matt Johns (keys)

Fri 26th Sept – Pete Canter Trio – 7.30pm – City Gate Hotel, Exeter – Fine jazz trio playing in the conservatory. Listen from the garden if it’s fine. Free

Wed 1st Oct – Bridge Jazz Club – 8.30pm -Exeter Phoenix, Voodoo Lounge – Pete Canter & Friends + jam session. All welcome. Bring your horn! Door charge £6 or £3 for jammers includes a free raffle ticket.

Sat 1st Nov - Pete Canter Trio – 7.30pm – City Gate Hotel, Exeter – Fine jazz trio playing in the conservatory. Great food & beers available too. Free

Wed 5th Nov – Bridge Jazz Club – 8.30pm – Exeter Phoenix, Voodoo Lounge – Pete Canter & Friends + jam session. All welcome. Bring your horn! Door charge £6 or £3 for jammers includes a raffle ticket to win CDs or wine.

Sat 15th Nov – Pete Canter Quartet – 1pm – Teignmouth Jazz Festival (United Reformed Church) – No holds barred hardbop, latin jazz and dramatic contemporary jazz drawing on Pete Canter’s originals and choice standards. Pete Canter saxes, Matt Johns keys, Jim Rintoul bass, Tom Wright drums. Tickets details TBA

Sat 22nd Nov – EMG Symphony Orchestra – 8pm – Great Hall, University of Exeter – The wonderful EMG Symphony Orchestra where I will be playing double bass in a programme including Elgar, Britten, and Ethel Smyth’s Wreckers Overture. Details TBA

Wed 26th Nov - Scratch Orchestra – 8.00pm - Exeter Phoenix -The Scratch Orchestra returns to perform new contemporary music scores written by a range of composers. The music played will include fully scored pieces, guided and free improvisation. The Scratch Orchestra line up for this concert is Ruth Molins – flutes, John Welton – bass clarinet/clarinet, Pete Canter – saxophones, Gill Baker – trumpet/flugelhorn, Marcus Vergette – double bass, Carol Galton- cello

Fri 28th Nov – Pete Canter Trio – 7.30pm – City Gate Hotel, Exeter – Fine jazz trio playing in the conservatory. Great food & beers available too. Free

Wed 3rd Dec - Bridge Jazz Club – 8.30pm – Exeter Phoenix, Voodoo Lounge – Pete Canter & Friends + jam session. All welcome. Bring your horn! Door charge £6 or £3 for jammers includes a raffle ticket to win CDs or wine.


Tenor Madness

August 27, 2014

Long time no post but here goes.
I was very happy to see a good turn out at the Bridge Jazz Club at the beginning of the month after a couple of club nights at the start of the summer when we were struggling to break even. This month I was joined by the Ron Jones Trio for the first set with Joss Kidd on guitar, David George on double bass and Ron on drums. The jam session had lots of people getting up to perform including Andrew V. and Kyle on trumpet and guitar respectively with a nice rendition of Stolen Moments, Sez singing for us and Marius on baritone sax. Caroline on flute enlisted Michael to act as mic stand as I hadn’t brought one and we also heard Andy Stark on trumpet, Sam on drums, Matt on guitar, Sam and Godfrey on tenor. All great and apologies to anyone I haven’t mentioned. Next week at the club we have the very talented Matt Carter on keys, electric bass whizz Mike Isaac and new face Ric Byer on drums who I am told plays a bit of an unconventional kit; that should prove interesting for the jam session if we have any drummers sitting in. That’s the Bridge Jazz Club Wed 3rd Sept 8.30pm at Exeter Phoenix. Essential listening!BJC poster low res

After a tenor sax overhaul a few months ago by super woodwind repair person Gill Baker, I’ve been guilty of neglecting the other saxes and there’s been a couple of occasions when I’ve reached for the alto or soprano to find a dry, wrinkled and unplayable reed. On tenor I’ve been doing lots of basic technique work: exercises for sound and slow scales with a metronome. I’ve also been doing some transcribing, something I’m really lazy about but really an essential for a jazz player.

This week I’m concentrating on composing: some new jazz tunes with my quartet gig at Teignmouth Jazz Festival in mind and also trying to complete a contemporary music piece for the Scratch Orchestra gig which is also not until November but will need one or two rehearsals.

Meanwhile I’ve been plugging away at the double bass too: working on new pieces with the bow and also thinking a bit about playing jazz walking lines and training myself to play with a metronome on 2 and 4. Rehearsals with EMG Symphony Orchestra start again next week and the repertoire for the autumn includes Elgar’s Cello Concerto so I’m looking forward to that. All good stuff.

Details of the gigs I’ve mentioned and quite a few more in September are on my website at

Goodbye Kathy Stobart

July 8, 2014

I was sad to hear yesterday of the death at 89 of tenor saxophonist Kathy Stobart who was my first sax teacher in the 1980s. I attended her classes at the City Lit Instutute in Soho where she taught a whole group of us together, altos on one side, tenors on the other, basic technique stuff and working through big band charts. I can still remember shaking like a leaf when it was my turn to stand up and play a G major scale! She could always pick out the one in a class of 30 who was playing the wrong note: “You dear.. yes you at the back C# not C dear!” Later I also went out to her house a couple of times in West London for private lessons. I can remember her introducing me to the concept of upper and lower neighbours to a chord note and telling me to go away and practise them. I didn’t do that very diligently because I was swept up with the idea made fashionable at the time by Jamey Aebersold that the way to learn to improvise was to learn the scale that went with every chord, something which I now believe is not really very helpful in comparison to knowing the actual chord arpeggios inside out and feeling free to decorate with just about any notes you fancy! Of course Kathy came from the big band era when soloing was based on decorating and embellishing the melody and chord tones. Anyway I have very fond memories of those classes at City Lit and feel very grateful to Kathy for firing my interest in jazz. London Jazz News pays tribute to Kathy here.

This Saturday I played in my second concert with the EMG Symphony Orchestra on double bass here in Exeter: a concert of Gabrieli, Vivaldi and Schubert along with a contemporary piece by local composer Stephen Perks.  I had a jazz gig at lunchtime so missed the dress rehearsal, and noticed it too! There was a certain amount of moving the bass around the orchestra as we split into 3 separate orchestras for one of the Gabrieli pieces, then came together as a bass section for the Vivaldi on the “wrong” side of the stage before finally assembling in the conventional position for the Schubert and Perks in the second half. I felt a little more settled for these pieces and thoroughly enjoyed playing them. We had a good audience too. Apart from a workshop this week on Elgar’s Cello Concerto, that is the end of EMG rehearsals for the summer so time to get down to some good old basic technique work.

The Bridge Jazz Club met last week and had a good turn out. The summer months can sometimes see audiences drop off a little so I’ve been working harder than usual at postering and promoting the club. I’d also only booked a trio for the house band: myself on sax with James Shipway on guitar and Jim Rintoul on double bass. Jim Newton had kindly agreed to bring drums for the jam session but ended up playing with us for the first set as well. As it happens, enough people came for me to be able to pay the whole quartet which was great. We had two trumpet players in the jam session: Andrew Vaccari and Andy Stark as well as Tansy singing, Godfrey Talbot playing tenor and Ronnie Jones playing drums. Ron will be back next month with his trio to join me as the house band on 6th Aug. Joss Kidd will be on guitar and David George will be on bass.

I’ve had a flurry of gigs recently and have two tomorrow: catch me with exciting young pianist Matt Johns and the excellent Marcus Vergette on double bass at lunchtime playing jazz in the South Piazza on Exeter University main campus. This is outside the Forum building assuming the weather allows. If it doesn’t we will be inside. Tomorrow evening the Pete Canter Quartet play Swing Unlimited Jazz Club in Bournemouth where I will be joined by piano wizard Jim Blomfield, Jim Rintoul on bass and the explosive Coach York on drums playing my originals and some choice standards. I will be on soprano and tenor saxes. On Friday I am at Bridport Arts Cwentre with Eclipse, a trio with Jesse Molins on guitar and Jim Rintoul on bass. Details of these and other gigs coming up are on my gig diary.


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