Been having an interesting time recently with quite a varied range of musical events. My new latin jazz band Lightflight had a great first gig at Shobrooke last month (see feedback in last post). As well as the three gigs already lined up in mid February around Devon we now have an additional date on 2nd Feb at the Drewe Arms in Drewesteignton at a new jazz night being hosted by bassist Marcus Vergette. The band will be Matt Johns on keys, Marcus on double bass, Ron Jones on drums and percussion and myself on all three saxes and congas. The music is a mix of my originals and choice latin jazz standards.
Experimental, improvised music group Get Rich Quick also had a good gig at Exeter Phoenix on 21st Nov. It was our first time out with the new quintet line up of James Clemas on keys, Jesse Molins on guitar, Marcus on bass, Tim Sayer on trumpet, flugelhorn & electronics and myself on drums & sax. Although totally spontaneous improvised music remains a minority taste, we had a record audience. We also had some sitters in for the second half: Godfrey on tenor sax and Tom Wright and Tom Rosenbloom on drums. I am now thinking about introducing some guided improvisation into the set be it through conduction, graphic scores or other unconventional means. This may also involve another expansion in ensemble size so could get very exciting. Watch this space!
The Bridge Jazz Club last week saw something like 16 different musicians performing. It was a first for me to be playing drums instead of sax with the house band. The idea was to have good time jazz quintet REMO play the first set with a twin horn front line of Tony Kaye on tenor and Gill Baker on flugelhorn but the lurgee struck and Mike Sayers was brought in on alto sax last minute to dep for Gill. James Clemas was on keys and Jim Rintoul played bass. I had fun playing drums and, as they say, got away with it so I expect that from time to time I will be doing that job with the house band and bringing in some other front line players for the first set. As usual it was difficult to fit everyone in who wanted to play in the second half. We had a small contingent from the Taunton Dean big band as well as other new faces and regulars to accomodate: flautists, loads of saxes, guitarists, vocals and several drummers so I never got back behind the kit in the second half. Please note that the next Club night is not on the first Wednesday of January which falls on New Year’s Day but on 8th January instead. The house band will be myself on sax with Matt Johns on keys, Tristan Latarche on drums and Marcus Vergette on bass.
Another first for me was playing a concert this Saturday on double bass with the combined Exmouth Light & Heavy Orchestras: James Bond themes, light music and Xmas carols in Budleigh Salterton. As an atheist, I am loathe to enter churches and participate in anything with religious associations but needs must and the acoustics in Temple Methodist Chapel were fantastic. There were four bassists though a couple of these were doubling on either trombone or violin so section leader Jim Rintoul and myself were the core of the section. The orchestra sounded the best it ever had and I felt almost competent, playing most of the music correctly. Next year I am going to sit in at rehearsals with the Exeter Music Group Symphony Orchestra in the sixth bass chair so that will be a real challenge. Although my main aim with the bass is to play classical music, I have been working out how to play a few jazz standards in recent weeks and have a bass clef Real Book on order.
This Thursday I am playing a couple of short contemporary music pieces at “The Classics” which is described as “a sort of Radio 3 open mic night” and is hosted by bassoonist Sydney Hemsley at The Bicton Inn, Exmouth. I will be playing a short alto sax & piano duet called “Life Begins” with it’s composer Pete Nickol on piano and also a reworked version of my own “Invisible Man” for soprano sax & double bass with Jim Rintoul on bass. Lasting around 10 minutes, this latter piece has an improvised section. The title occured to me because there is a lot of implied harmony in the piece which neither musician actually spells out so there is an “invisible” and inaudible chord player lurking somewhere. It’s also because I spent an inordinate amount of time as a boy creeping around pretending to be Peter Brady, wrapping and unwrapping my head in bandages as I made the imaginary transition from visible to invisible. Something that never occurred to me at the time but does the fact that he wore bandages to makes himself visible mean that he was creeping around righting wrongs and catching baddies entirely naked?!! The classics starts at 8.30pm and entry is free.
Other good news is that my residency with the Pete Canter Trio at the City Gate Hotel on the last Friday each month continues into the new year. There is just one more date there this year which is Friday 20th Dec, so called “Mad Friday” from 7.30pm. Eclipse, a trio with guitarist Jesse Molins and Jim Rintoul will be back at Hope Hall, Heavitree in the spring. We had a very successful gig there in November and hope to be incorporating some of Jesse’s originals in the set as well as my own. Details of these and other gigs are all on my website at www.petecanter.com
Had this great feedback on Saturday’s Latin jazz gig with Lightflight:
Dear Pete, I just wanted to send you a quick note following your gig in Shobrooke on Satruday to thank you so much for a truly outstanding performance. It took a long time to clear the pub on Saturday night (even longer than usual) as so many people wanted to reflect on your strikingly high quality performance. The virtuoso musicianship and the fine ensemble playing, your hugely accessible interpretation of both new and classic material and the really engaging interaction between the musicians were all a joy to experience. It left us in no doubt that we had shared in something very special. Thank you again. Kind regards. Leslie Hampson, local promoter of the bands debut performance on 23/11/13.
Had a great debut gig with my new latin jazz band Pete Canter’s Lightflight on Saturday night. We were in the Red Lion in Shobrooke which as well as being a pub serves as the community centre for the village which is near Crediton. Local organiser Leslie had done a great job of promoting the event which was supported by the Villages in Action rural touring scheme and we had a good audience. The room was long and narrow with quite a low ceiling but still had good acoustics and we were able to fit in Ronnie Jones complete with drum kit, bongos and various other percussion paraphenalia, myself with all three saxes and a pair of congas, Marcus Vergette on bass and Matt Johns on keyboards. Apart from a hiccup caused by me having brought one of the concert charts in completely the wrong key and with a different melody, everything went well and we got a really good response from the audience, CDs were sold and I’m looking forward to doing more gigs with the band in the new year. We have three more gigs with Villages in Action in February and details are on the gigs page of my website at www.petecanter.com
I am hosting a meeting of the Exeter Contemporary Composer Group tomorrow night. That is just my current name for it as we have never formally decided what to call it. The group was started by local composer Anna Matthews and I over a year ago and has now grown to five members. The idea is to discuss and give feedback on work in progress, share opportunities and from time to time to put on performances of music that we have written. I have written a short semi-improvised piece piece called “Halves” for the group to try tomorrow as part of the evening. It has really simple rhythms and should be instantly playable. Really it’s an experiment in harmony and if it works can be developed into a more complex piece. This is the first time that we have met somewhere without background music and it will be good to be able to play our pieces without using headphones and to have instruments available. Any other local composers interested in contemporary music who might like to join the group should get in touch with me.
A couple of gigs coming up this week which I am really looking forward to. On Thursday (21/11/13), experimental, free improv group Get Rich Quick is back in the Black Box at Exeter Phoenix. Now expanded to a quintet with the addition of James Clemas on keys, GRQ makes utterly spontaneous music and it’s always a blast. We are extending an invitation to improvising musicians from all genres who know how to listen to come and join in for the second half. By being able to listen I mean at the very least that the volume and intensity of the playing doesn’t prevent us from being able to hear each other and respond to each other. The process is a co-operative one and unlike the jam sessions at the Bridge Jazz Club this isn’t a band and soloist situation. Although the strong jazz pedigrees of all the members of GRQ inevitably means that the music we produce often has a strong jazz influence, there are no boundaries as to style. As well as James on keys, GRQ has Jesse Molins on guitar, Marcus Vergette on double bass, Tim Sayer on trumpet, flugelhorn and electronics and myself on drums and saxophone. I really love playing the drums in this group so not that much saxophone playing has been happening on recent gigs!
In contrast I will be playing soprano, alto and tenor saxes on Saturday (23/11/13) when my new latin jazz quartet Pete Canter’s Lightflight makes its debut performance at The Red Lion in Shobrooke near Crediton. This is the first of several gigs supported by the rural touring scheme Villages in Action. There are three more in February. The idea for this band came from the success of the soprano sax tracks on my recent album Lightflight. Both had a latin jazz feel. I have also been playing a lot more alto sax on gigs over the last couple of years and this has been getting a good response. The idea is to play accessible, melodic material with a strong latin jazz influence and the set will include my originals and some choice standards. Ronnie Jones will be playing a hybrid kit including bongos, conga heads and other percussion and I will be contributing some tumbao rhythms on my congas. The very talented Cornwall based pianist Matt Johns and Marcus Vergette on double bass complete the line up. Music starts at 8pm and tickets are available from the pub or by calling 01363 775468.
I am still working hard at my new instrument, the double bass, and even have a gig coming up: a concert with the Exmouth Light Orchestra in Budleigh on 7th Dec. The programme will include the usual Christmas fayre plus a smattering of light classics and film themes. I will be in a section of 4 or 5 basses getting most, if not all of it right! It’s good to make new connections and getting to know the bassoonist in ELO has brought about an opportunity to perform my duet piece for soprano sax and double bass again. Called The Invisible Man, the piece was first performed at a Non Classical evening at the Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter earlier this year with myself on soprano and Jim Rintoul on bass. I am reworking the piece slightly to make the bass part more playable: streams of consecutive perfect fourths are not easy to execute on the instrument! Anyway, said bassoonist Sydney Hemsley runs a monthly event in Bicton called The Classics, originally a sort of open mic for musicians wanting to play orchestral extracts, it has now branched out to include some jazz, contemporary and experimental music. Sydney describes it as “sort of Radio 3″. So Jim and I will, if the reworking is complete by then, be performing The Invisible Man at The Bicton Inn, Bicton sometime after 8.30pm on 12th Dec.
Meanwhile my trio with Jim Rintoul and James Clemas will be at The City Gate, Exeter on Friday 29th November from 7.30pm and don’t forget the Bridge Jazz Club at Exeter Phoenix on Wed 4th Dec when the house band will be the quintet REMO. REMO has a twin horn frontline of Tony Kaye on tenor and Gill Baker on flugelhorn with James Clemas on keys, Jim Rintoul on bass and myself on drums. After the opening set from REMO, there will be the usual jam session. Music starts at 8.30pm and entry is £5 on the door or £3 for jammers to include a free raffle.
Pete Canter’s Lightflight, an exciting new latin jazz quartet will be in Shobrooke on Sat 23rd Nov for the first of it’s Devon gigs supported by rural turing scheme Villages in Action. Feauturing Pete on soprano, alto and tenor saxes, Matt Johns on keys, Marcus Vergette on bass and Ronnie Jones on percussion, Lightflight will be playing two sets of accessible melodic latin jazz including originals from Pete’s well received recent album which will be on sale at the gig, and some choice latin jazz standards. From 8pm. Tickets from the Red Lion or call 01363 775468.
More totally spontaneous music making this coming Thursday when Get Rich Quick play the Black Box at Exeter Phoenix. Not only are we expanded from quartet to quintet line up with the addition of James Clemas on keys, we are inviting improvising musicians who listen to come and join in with us during the second set. 8pm start £5 on the door.
I have a cluster of interesting gigs coming up in the next month or so.
Things kick off on Friday (25/10) when my trio will be back at The City Gate in Exeter playing jazz in the conservatory. I will have James Clemas on keys and Jim Rintoul on bass. This is always a very enjoyable gig and starts at 7.30pm. The City Gate serves a great pint too.
On Saturday (26/10) I am with the trio again though this time with piano whizz Matt Johns joining myself on sax and Jim Rintoul on bass. We will be out on Dartmoor at the charming Seven Stars Inn who serve a fantastic buffet for £10 to accompany the jazz. Or is it that the jazz accompanies the buffet? Either way the music and the food will both be excellent. The buffet cost £10 but you can also just have a drink and listen to the jazz. We start at 8pm.
On Friday 1st November I will be with guitarist Jesse Molins and Jim Rintoul on double bass with a trio called Eclipse which plays my originals and a selection of choice standards. We will be in the atmospheric former chapel, now artist’s studio which is Hope Hall in Heavitree, Exeter. The room has great acoustics and the event will be very intimate. I will be playing soprano, alto and tenor saxes. Bring your own alcoholic drinks or buy soft drinks and snacks from our artist host Naomi Hart. We start at 8pm and entry is just £5. Booking is definitely advised through Naomi at email@example.com. Please note this is not the Hope Hall in the University. This one is in Hope St at the junction of Butts Rd and Wonford St.
The Bridge Jazz Club meets next on Wed 6th November when the house band will be myself on alto sax with fine Dorset based pianist Philip Clouts, top drummer Coach York and the effervescent Marcus Vergette on double bass. As usual the opening set from the house band will be followed by a jam session. We had a really good turnout last month so get there early to grab a good seat. The club meets in the Voodoo Lounge at Exeter Phoenix and the music starts at 8.30pm. Entry is £5 or £3 for jammers to include a free raffle ticket.
Also at Exeter Phoenix, experimental free improv band Get Rich Quick is back in the Black Box on Thur 21st November. The band has a new member making us a quintet so the line up is Tim Sayer (trumpet, flugelhorn and electronics), Jesse Molins (guitar) James Clemas (keys), Marcus Vergette (double bass) and myself on drums and sax. Once again we are welcoming improvising musicians from any genre of music to join us in the second set. Music starts at 8pm and entry is £5 to everyone.
On Saturday 23rd November, my new latin jazz band Lightflight gets its first outing at the Red Lion in Shoebrook near Crediton. The band is a quartet featuring myself on mainly soprano and alto sax playing originals and latin jazz standards with a great band of Matt Johns on keys, Marcus Vergette on bass and Ronnie Jones on percussion/drums. This is a taster gig supported by rural touring scheme Villages In Action and the band has a further 3-night block of gigs coming up in February. See my website for details.
As well as preparing for these gigs I have been putting a lot of time into playing the double bass, practising every day, going to two amateur orchestra rehearsals each week, taking an occasional lesson and generally getting down to it. I must say it’s pretty hard work playing a stringed instriument especially one of this size. Not only do you have to play the right note at the right time, every single note also has to be coaxed out of the instrument with the right finger pressure on the string, good hand shape, correct intonation, the right bow speed and pressure, correct bowing etc etc. Nevertheless, I feel like I’m making good progress and taking advantage of the one great thing the bass has going for it: regular tuning in 4ths which means that scale or any other patterns are instantly transposable once you have figured out the various positions for the left hand. In practise this means lots of drills involving shifting between positions and string crossing. What is really rewarding is that the more work I do the sound produced by the instrument just gets richer. Despite it being a cheap Chinese instrument, the excellent set up carried out by luthier John Sydenham has really made the bass sing.