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:

Today marks the release of a new duo album of short improvisations by myself and Cath Roberts. In early 2019 we played a cluster of duo gigs around London and it felt really nice to strip everything away to the sparseness of an alto and baritone saxophone. In April 2019 we decided to record the duo. The spontaneous, relatively short improvisations captured the spirit of the duo, with wildly ranging textures from minimalist sounds to full on wailing. It was recorded by Cath, mixed by Alex Bonney and the album artwork is by me! Although the accompanying tour wasn’t possible due to COVID, it feels good to share it with the world now. 

I have worked together with Cath since 2013 in various contexts: organising live performances, tours and festivals under the banner of LUME, co-running our record label Luminous and playing together in numerous projects – most recently with UK/Swiss sextet MoonMot. The label grew out of the work we’ve done with LUME; the perfect complement to putting on live performances. Luminous’ first release was in July 2015: Live At LUME a collection of bootleg recordings from performances at a regular night we’d been running at The Long White Cloud in Hoxton. Live At LUME functioned as a fundraiser to enable us to keep going with our work. The label has also seen releases from Cath’s quintet Sloth Racket and my electronics duo Deemer, amongst other things.