Things I’ve been doing during lockdown. Part one: short solo improvisation videos

In the absence of opportunities to perform live during the pandemic, I’ve been exploring the varied textures and soundscapes my effects pedals have to offer in the context of solo improvisation with my saxophone. Although I’ve been using electronics in a group setting for a while (with Entropi, MoonMot, Atmosfear and more recently in a trio with Cath Roberts and Craig Scott), exploring electronics in a solo setting is a relatively new thing for me. In 2019 I performed at the East London Jazz Festival, London Jazz Festival and at the Vortex downstairs with just me and my pedals. It’s a pretty exposing experience and feels like a real risk standing alone, guided by the inner promptings of each new idea and trusting that the whole thing will make sense. But I really enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll get a chance to perform more with this solo project in the future.

The impetus to make these videos came from Freedom: The Art of Improvisation monthly facebook events run by Orphy Robinson, Cleveland Watkiss and Tori Handsley – an online substitute for the pre-COVID live nights at the Vortex (a packed room full of musicians, artists and listeners coming together to celebrate impromptu music-making). Videoing one or two short solo improvisations most months has provided a focus and helped me to develop in this area. It is a exercise in concentration, with my aim being to become completely absorbed in the music for the entire duration of the video. Easier said than done, but it’s rewarding reaching for this space. I have uploaded seven of these short videos to my YouTube channel. Here are a few: