Have been getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks on holiday in France – after not playing at all for two weeks, I’ve done the usual: managed to develop an infected lip during re-entry. This is the result of trying to play too much too soon on tender lips and also picking up where I left off with used reeds which have been left to fester for a couple of weeks. Seems to be on the mend now and practising much less for a day or two does have the effect of making me really enjoy it when I do play, so I’m looking forward to tonight’s gig at the City Gate Hotel in Exeter with James Clemas on keys and old pal Andy Tunbridge on double bass. Andy and I first played together during the 1980s after meeting at pianist Howard Riley’s Saturday morning jazz workshop at Goldsmiths. He was a guitarist then but took up double bass instead: a good move I think. We are in the conservatory from 7.30pm tonight and you can listen from the garden if it’s fine (though no matter what the weather it doesn’t seem to deter some hardy types or those despertate for a fag!).
Next Wednesday 5th August is Bridge Jazz Club night at Exeter Phoenix where this month I will be joined in the house band by Tom Unwin on keys, Ron Phelan on double bass and Coach York on drums. I’ve been trying to get Tom to come and play at the club for a year or two now but club night has always clashed with a jazz workshop he runs on Wednesday evenings. Strangely, I’ve never played with him in any other context either since I moved to Devon in 2001 and haven’t heard him play with anyone else either, so it will be interesting. This is a great rhythm section and as always, the second half is a jam session so local jazz musicians or those passing through Exeter can get to play with them! Music starts at 8.30pm in the Voodoo Lounge and entry on the door is £6 or just £4 for jammers including a free raffle.
On Sunday 9th August I’m with piano wizard Matt Johns at the Royal Oak in Ashburton, a free afternoon (2pm to 4pm) of duo jazz. You can also get a Sunday roast or just have a pint. Well done to Ashburton’s Andy Williamson for organising these weekly gigs with landlord Edric. I have another duo gig on Saturday 15th August, this time with guitarist James Shipway, doing the late shift (10pm to midnight) at The Grapevine in Exmouth. This gig, like my City Gate residency and the Bridge Jazz Club has turned out to be another regular monthly gig for me. Fingers crossed it continues as long as the other two!
My latin jazz outfit Lightflight gets two airings this month, first at the Kings Arms in South Zeal on Saturday 22nd August, and then again at the Double Locks Inn on Saturday 29th August, a canalside event for their cider festival. At the first of these I will be with Matt Johns on keys, Jim Rintoul on bass and Ronnie Jones on drums & percussion while at the latter Valere Speranza will be on bass and Jim Newton will be on drums. Both are free events and Lightflight will be playing some seriously groovy latin jazz, a mix of standards and my originals. I play congas as well as sax on these gigs so need to start practising soon or I will be ending up with sore hands as well as sore lips. In between these two Lightflight gigs, I will be back at the City Gate again on Friday 28th August, though I haven’t got around to booking a band yet. Details of all these gigs on my website.
On the double bass front, it’s the summer recess from EMG Symphony Orchestra so time to do some serious work on technique and reading. The orchestra has been given the sad news that we are losing our amazing conductor Marion Wood next year so just two more concerts to go under her direction. Both of these are in Exeter Cathedral: a concert of Russian music in November and Britten’s War Requiem in April and both should be fantastic. I’ve also been composing a short piece for solo double bass for Teppo Fest 2016, a celebration of Finnish bass player and composer Teppo Hauta-aho’s 75th birthday. Organiser David Heyes has commisioned 75 1-minute pieces to be played at the weekend festival in May next year. The tricky bit is getting the Finnish translation of the title correct; don’t want to insult anyone! It’s just about finished. I just need to go through the legato sections deciding how I want the bowing.
I’m playing with a new trio on Monday evening at Artigiano in Exeter. In terms of the musicians, it’s not at all new. The line up is myself, James Clemas and Jim Rintoul. What’s different is the inclusion of vocals courtesy of keyboard player James. I don’t usually work with singers but in this case it was what the venue wanted and I was able to find a solution without losing fine double bass player Jim from the line up. James also sings most tunes in standard keys so it was a simple matter to get together for half an hour and come up with a set list that both of us are comfortable with. We have picked a few standard tunes with alternative melodies for the sax to contrast with the vocal lines. We are also doing a couple of bop heads in unison. This works particularly well with a male voice and tenor sax so the rehearsal left me rather looking forward to the gig. James’ voice sounds great and he is a top pianist. He is also familiar with my usual repertoire. Music starts at 7.30pm at Artigiano in Exeter High St on Monday. Come in for a meal or just a drink.
I’m pleased to announce that my Latin jazz quartet Lightflight will, once again, be touring Devon village venues this autumn as part of the Villages in Action rural touring scheme. We were last part of the scheme a couple of years ago and had a really enjoyable set of gigs with good audiences, great receptions and fantastic hospitality from our hosts in village halls and pubs. The only cloud was the terrible weather on the night of the penultimate gig when high winds, driving rain and fallen trees led to keys player Matt Johns writing off his car and him missing the final gig at Sampford Courtnay (James Clemas stepped in to cover). Well the last gig is in Sampford Courtnay village hall again this year so hopefully Matt will make it this time!
Lightflight plays a mix of my Latin Jazz originals, some choice Latin Jazz standards and a few tunes with a contrasting feel. The music is melodic, accessible and seriously groovy. I play soprano & tenor saxophone and congas with Lightflight on these gigs along with a great rhythm section. The dates are 16th Oct in Rattery, 17th Oct in Bradninch, 13th Nov in Northleigh and 14th Nov in Sampford Courtnay. Local ticketing arrangements will be announced later.
Meanwhile I have a handful of gigs in the next week. On Friday I’m with my trio at the City Gate Hotel in Exeter, a gig which I always enjoy. The sound in the conservatory is great and it’s especially nice at this time of year with the doors open so that people can listen from the garden. I’ll be with Matt Johns on keys and Valere Speranza on double bass from 7.30pm.
On Saturday I will be playing double bass myself with EMG Symphony Orchestra at their summer concert. The theme is travel and the programme includes some incredibly challenging music such as John Adam’s Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Honnegar’s Pacific 231 as well as the beautiful Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto and pieces by local composers.
On Monday I will be at a new venue, Artigiano’s in Exeter, with a new trio the Art House Trio. I will be joined by James Clemas on vox and keys and Jim Rintoul on double bass. The new name for this familiar line up reflects the addition of vocals to the music.
Finally, Wed 1st July is Bridge Jazz Club night at Exeter Phoenix. This month’s house band includes piano maestro Jim Blomfield along with myself on sax, Jim Rintoul on double bass and Gary Evans on drums. Jim Blomfield has featured on my two most recent albums of original jazz and the opening set will include tunes from both albums including a reworking of “Free Thinking” from Ununbium. Details of all these gigs at www.petecanter.com/gigs
Since I last posted here (some time ago I know) I’ve done a few nice gigs, including a belter back in May at Swing Unlimited in Bournemouth with my quartet featuring Matt Johns on keys, Jim Rintoul on double bass and Tom Wright on drums. This was the last Pete Canter Quartet gig with Tom who is off to study at Trinity College in London. We did play together one more time and that was at the Bridge Jazz Club at the start of this month with Craig Milverton on keys and Valere Speranza on bass. It was another good turnout at the club which is great as I usually expect to see numbers fall off as we hit the better weather. It’s great to have a number of regular gigs and at the moment I’m lucky to have not only the Bridge Jazz Club and my monthly last Friday of the month residency at the City Gate but also quite frequent duo gigs at tiny bistro Frou Frou in Tiverton and a new monthly residency at The Grapevine in Exmouth with old mucker James Shipway on guitar. This is a late night slot 10 ’til midnight on one Saturday each month and we were lucky to have a good start to the residency because it coincided with the Exmouth Festival. We are there next on 20th June. My latin jazz band Lightflight also had an outing in Ashburton this month and has a few gigs in the diary. I am also expecting to add to these with some rural touring gigs organised by Villages in Action.
I got to play my new piece “The Gathering” for solo sax and soundscape at The Respect Festival in Exeter this month. It was quite early in the day so not a massive crowd but the response from those listening was good and several people suggested I record the sax onto the soundscape and make it into a CD. I do like this idea and would probably create a second piece to go alongside this one. It does however mean I need to get my hands on a decent condenser microphone. Any one have a Neumann U87 going cheap? My latest composing project is a short piece for unaccompanied double bass for performance at Teppo Fest 2016 – this is a celebration of the 75th birthday of Finnish bassist and composer Teppo Hauta-aha and part of the Festival will be the performance of 75 new 1-minute pieces for the double bass. Usual composer-player dilemna: should I write something for myself to play or something for a much more accomplished double bass player?
My saxophone teaching has really expanded over the last year or so and as of now I’ve decided to create a waiting list for new pupils; I can’t fit anyone else in at the moment without sacrificing my own practising and composing time.
Coming up over the next week or two I have trio gigs at Exeter University Staff Festival (18th June) and at The City Gate, Exeter (26th June), the residency with James Shipway in Exmouth (20th June) and the Bridge Jazz Club on 1st July which will feature another great house pianist, the amazing Jim Blomfield along with Jim Rintoul on bass and Gary Evans on drums. In between these I will be playing double bass with the fantastic EMG Symphony Orchestra at our summer concert on 27th June. Details of all these gigs at www.petecanter.com/gigs
I’m excited to have been given a 25 minute slot in the Exeter Respect Festival on 7th June to perform a new piece for saxophone and soundscape. Thing is there is, as yet, no such piece so will be knuckling down to it in the coming weeks. I’ve promised them something ‘summery’ and suited to the vibe of the festival which is an annual celebration of diversity in the city.
In case you were wondering, my original pitch to the organisers was for a duo slot with singer Jules Yount so from the diversity point of view it was a Yank and an old bloke. In the end Jules couldn’t do it but fortunately they liked my alternative idea.
My plan is to record some ostinati on double bass, some easy fingerpicking on guitar, some piano chords, congas and drums (I knew all my dabbling with other instruments would come in handy one day!) mix it all up with some found sounds (bird song, etc) and write some sax lines and improv sections to play live over it. What could go wrong? Like my last piece Clock Works for improv ensemble which was controlled by stop watches this piece also will be totally pinned down in terms of duration and procession of musical events, this time by the soundscape. I’m not yet sure how to reflect the vibe of the festival in the piece. The obvious thing would be to incorporate elements of “ethnic” music but it might feel a bit phony to incorporate what would probably amount to pastiche. I’m pretty sure that whatever I set out to do it will end up having a strong jazz influence!
Catch the performance at 11.15am on the Cafe Stage at the Respect Festival on Sun 7th June in Belmont Park, Exeter.
I really enjoyed playing double bass with the wonderful EMG Symphony Orchestra in Exeter Cathedral on Saturday night. The programme of French music (Ravel, Faure, Debussey, Saint-Saens) was beautiful and the cathedral was packed: somewhere between 600 and 700 people! We rehearsed on Friday evening and on Saturday morning before the concert and things got a bit dicey in the double bass section. On Friday evening, we were one down from five to four players in the section because of illness and by Saturday morning we had lost another one too. Both of the missing ones are among the stronger players in the section so I for one was feeling very much on the spot especially in the quieter movements where we were quite exposed. I think that all three of us raised our game somewhat for that final rehearsal but nevertheless it was a great relief when both of our absent colleagues managed to drag themselves in for the performance itself. The marked increase in sound and confidence in the bass section for the performance made everything so much easier and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.
The concert more or less coincides with the end of my second year of playing double bass. This time last year I had just done my first big concert with the orchestra, a Vaughan Williams programme also in the cathedral. I enjoyed that one too but my confidence and facility have both grown enormously over the course of the year. I’m so glad I took the plunge and bought a double bass two years ago and I really appreciate the opportunity to play with such a good amateur orchestra: playing almost any other instrument, the competition from much more experienced and accomplished players would definitely have kept me out.
It’s been a good week for jazz gigs. The Bridge Jazz Club 4th Birthday celebration on 1st April was a great success: after an enjoyable opening set from the house band of myself on tenor sax and congas, Bob Martin on trombone, Matt Johns on keys, Jim Rintoul on double bass and Jim Newton on drums played to a packed house, we were treated to some original poetry by Bard of Exeter, Mantie Lister before the jam session. The jam kicked of with some very sweet salsa type music from Caroline and friends with two female voices, two flutes, Rich on congas plus keys and bass. Raddon on trombone (yes another one after four years without hearing one at the club) with Tony on alto and Marius on tenor gave us Blue Bossa and we were off for a night of top latin jazz – even Blue Monk performed by the two trombonists was given a latin twist. Thanks to all who played and those who made this another record attendance. My thanks to the Friends of BJC who continue to help with regular donations towards room hire and raffle prizes and to volunteers Steve and Guy who cover the door each month. Here’s to another year of the Bridge Jazz Club. Next club night is Wed 6th May when the house band will be myself with fine young pianist Matt Carter, the excellent Al Swainger on double bass and Ron Jones on kit.
The next day I was up in Bath playing with the excellent house trio at St James Wine Vaults. I can’t remember enjoying a gig so much for a long time and as the guest I received a really warm reception from the audience packed in under the low vaulted cellar ceiling. The sound was great and Vyv Hope-Scott on keys, Trevor Davies on drums and Wade Edwards were all on top form, responding most creatively to the tunes I put in front of them. As well as another packed house and selling CDs I was happy to receive a sketch made by gifted amateur artist Linda Gamlin who was in the audience. I’m hoping that I will be able to bring the house trio down later in the year to play at the Bridge JC here in Exeter.
This Monday I was at the Clifford Arms in Shaldon with my Latin jazz quartet Lightflight playing to a good bank holiday audience, happy after a couple of days of Easter sunshine. It was a hell of a squeeze getting four of us plus my congas into the tiny playing space at the Clifford and as usual I was pretty deaf by the interval: although not that loud out among the diners and drinkers the acoustics there have the effect of boxing in the sound around the band. Also as usual, Matt Johns on keys was inspiring me to play hard and wild and most of the tunes really took off. Another very enjoyable gig! Also on the gig were top bass player Jim Rintoul and fine drummer/percussionist Ron Jones. It was great to be back in Shaldon.
I’m out for one more jazz gig this week doing a duo at Frou Frou on Thursday in Tiverton with excellent pianist Philip Clouts. Catch us from 7.30pm in what is a bijou French style bistro. It’s definitely a case of quiet and controlled playing in the tiny space there.
On Saturday I will be wrestling the double bass through a concert of beautiful French works by Ravel, Debussy, Faure and Saint-Saëns with the excellent EMG Symphony Orchestra in Exeter Cathedral. Really looking forward to that one. The acoustics in the cathedral are fantastic; the orchestra is rammed with fantastic musicians; and the pieces are really beautiful!
Debussy – Prélude à l’après-midi d’un Faune
Ravel – Rapsodie Espagnole
Fauré – Pelléas et Mélisande
Saint-Saëns – Symphony No. 3 ‘Organ Symphony’
Tickets £15/£12/£10/£8 – discounts available for students/U16s.