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Press Release: Cardiff-born musician launches all or nothing bid for debut album

29.03.17 

For immediate release

Cardiff-born musician launches all or nothing bid for debut album

 

Pianist and Royal Academy of Music jazz graduate, Peter Lee, is crowdsourcing his debut album for five piece band and string quartet through Kickstarter in an all or nothing bid to create ‘The Velvet Rage’. 

Inspired by Alan Downs’ book of the same title, the album expresses the highs and lows of Lee’s personal experience as a musician. Downs worked as a psychologist in America, offering counselling to gay men and he has become familiar with their most common personal battles. Towards the end of the book he offers wisdom and guidance towards a goal he names ‘authentic validation’. Lee’s debut is tribute to this sentiment, showcasing compositions Lee has written over the last 10 years, drawing from his educational, professional and personal journey.

Lee commented: “Gay men and women have been granted the opportunity to marry in so much of the western world; we can walk through the streets hand-in-hand and yet it would be naïve to think that personal struggles related to sexuality aren’t still going on. Attacks on the LGBTQ community still happen, but we’ve seen our communities respond with an unprejudiced sense of unity. I’m so grateful that I live in an age where I can be out and proud and express my perspective through the medium of music.”

Cardiff-born and London-based, Lee received his undergraduate degree from Leeds College of Music and his campaign to raise £5,000 has attracted support from across the country with over 55% raised at the halfway mark.

For such a qualified musician, Lee’s story is one of humour and determination. His first gig with his band prompted an official complaint from the examiner-in-chief at the Royal Academy of Music. It was his final recital for his masters in jazz piano, but Lee went in with a band full of pop musicians. The audience whooped and cheered so raucously that a formal email was sent to all students about ‘appropriate’ exam conditions.

While touring with Alice Zawadzki, Lee worked with the Manchester-based “Amika” String Quartet whose stunning playing led him to arrange his music for strings, and invite them to a week-long recording session in the Autumn of 2016. From there, the album progressed into an offering that spans a decade of work with an authentic and highly talented group of musicians.

Lee needs to raise the full £5,000 by midnight on Tuesday 11 April and would welcome support from all corners. Visit www.bit.ly/petelee to join this exciting new project.

 – End –

For further information, contact:

 

Leah Thomas @ Blue Flamingo

Notes to editors:

The Musicians

Lee recorded for five days in Fieldgate studio in Cardiff.  The musicians involved are: Pete Lee (piano/compositions), Josh Arcoleo (sax), Alex Munk (guitar), Huw Foster (bass), Ali Thynne (drums), and the “Amika” Strings: Laura Senior (violin), Rich Jones (violin) Lucy Nolan (viola) and Peggy Nolan (cello). The session was recorded by Andy Lawson, Alex Killpatrick & Matt Williams at Fieldgate Studios in South Wales. Matt Roberts produced the album.

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#BFRecommends Jazz Picks in London this March

Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Vula Viel @ Vortex 8pm £10
‘Vula Viel returns to the Vortex to complete their Spring tour. A band which the Vortex holds close, as it did some of its first gigs here. And great to hear how it’s developing’ more info here

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5 Things you didn’t know about Down Street Band

1. They are named after the street where a few of them met, Down Street in Mayfair.

2. They recorded all their songs in one long day, including videos and photos!

3. The most popular event they play for is wedding receptions.

4. Their most requested first dance song is Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud.

5. If one of the main players is already busy, they have a pool of about 15 fabulous players who ‘dep’ in and out with them.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? GET IN TOUCH!

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Why do you write reviews & recommend gigs?


1. We love it

BF MD Leah is a musicologist by training and loves music and reviewing.  It’s a way to express the joy that music brings.


2. We support live music

The Brits (say, in comparison with the Europeans) are not great at going out and getting involved in culture, whether that be dance, art, theatre or music.  So we want you to encourage people to get out there and get involved in the rich culture that’s going on!


3. We support musicians


Sometimes the musicians we review are involved in some of our projects, so we want to support them in their other creative endeavours.  It’s just being a good human really.


4. We respect music

By taking the time to write reviews it shows that we respect what people are working hard for and saying ‘this deserves to be written about’.

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK – GET IN TOUCH!

 

You can also read some of our reviews if you like: Riot Ensemble, International Rameau Ensemble, Metamorphic & Røyst Trio, Stoop Quintet,  London Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Stoop Quintet Album Review: Confession

output_wXvZjVWe heard Stoop Quintet live at the 2014 London Jazz Festival and it’s great to hear the tracks they performed there on their debut album Confession.

The opening track, Ranch, features many of the ideas which will become the album’s signature sounds. It starts with a simple groove-based riff played by pianist/band leader Jonathan Brigg and drummer Dave Smyth. After the rest of the band have entered we hear an inspired solo by guitarist Alex Munk bringing the tune to a symphonic climax. The ostinato riff returns, followed by saxophonist Sam Miles announcing his arrival in a feisty solo.

The second tune, Turn, is based on a repetitive piano and bass unison riff with guitar and drums filling the complex time. It’s a simple yet very effective idea. Munk and Miles solo once more with rhythm section keeping effortless time and creating a great depth of sound. It is incredibly satisfying when after Munk and Miles’ solo the band return to the riff. The whole song euphorically lifts and the satisfaction of everything coming together is palpable. But it is fleeting and the listener yearns to dwell in that sound world for longer.

Fable is a Zeitgeist piece with its deliciously warm sax ostinato over gently relentless piano lines falling like tears. It’s a desperately sad tune full of wistful longing. A lyrical sax solo by Miles is followed by the frankly haunting sound of Munk on guitar. You are drawn to the interplay of Smyth and Munk dancing together and in the background the ever-present piano and bass riff eternally pulse. The head then returns, if you can even call it a head, for it is really a riff: the oscillating heartbeat of this tune.

In Stoop Kid, (named after the band’s namesake, everyone’s favourite 90s cartoon Hey Arnold!) gone is the world of Fable. The tune opens in a chaotic conversation of sounds upon which the chatter then unites in unison stabs of exclamation. This is followed by a conversation between instruments, with different voices and characters clearly evident. When we read the album sleeve we discovered it is based on episode of Hey Arnold! where the protagonist is ‘afraid to leave his stoop’. The tension is evident and conversation clear.

Sevens is a cacophony of scalic runs in complex time with the band walking up and down their instruments. In the strict formal counterpoint the classical influences are evident creating a mesmerising effect in its relentlessness.

Listening to Spring Song after Sevens is like entering a different wold. Mellifluous sax sings over the guitar. It is refreshing to hear an album that is not afraid of variety or diatonic tonality. When the rest of the band come in (piano with the trademark elegant drone) the colours are gorgeous, a palette of watercolours meandering together to create beautiful new shades. Spring Song also features an elegant solo from bassist Flo Moore.

It’s notable that (as we’ve said before) this isn’t a band of soloists. Instead Moore, Smyth and Brigg ‘hold the complex grooves together, support and interplay with Miles and Munk like an experienced family and put the spark into the group.’

The album’s title track Confession is a tune of guilt, worry, strain and obsessiveness. The 7/8 groove is interspersed by a variety of different emotions: calm, angst and destruction. This becomes the freeist tune on the album and we hear a mind distracted, evolving and filled with tension. This is where it all comes out, a wonderful musical confession of feeling, ending with bartok-esque bell tolls on the piano. The confession is over.

The final tune of the album, Soldier On, is a slow balm to soothe the tension of Confession. The ethereal opening guitar statement is followed by a tune that is resolute in keeping going. The signature repetitive lines are evident. They are literally soldiering on, lost in melody and colour.

Confession is an album with classical and free jazz influences sitting side-by-side. Lyrical melodies sing above beautiful, agonisingly relentless ostinato-esque musical lines. It is an album that explores so many colours but never sits on one too long, and is never satisfied with just one sound. It is an album that constantly seeks new direction, a river pushing against the rocks with flair to make new paths. Confession is a creatively inspired, diverse and emotionally complex debut album. Can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Album out on 10th February on ASC Records

-BF

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#BFRecommends Jazz Picks in London this Feb

Sam crockatt Quartet james maddren kit downesTuesday 2nd Feb 2016 – Sam Crockatt Quartet CD Launch @ Pizza Express 19:00 £15
Saxophonist/composer Sam Crockatt launches his third album ‘Mells Bells’ on Whirlwind Recordings. The band is made up of four of the most in-demand and creative musicians on the UK scene, including Kit Downes on piano, Oli Hayhurst on double bass, and James Maddren on drums. Their first album ‘Howeird’ won album of the year in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in 2009′ more info here

Thursday 11th Feb 2016 Zoe Rahman Trio @ St James Theatre 20:00 £17.50
‘Known for her powerful technique, wide-ranging imagination and exuberant performance, she has become a highly sought-after musician, working most recently with the likes of Courtney Pine, George Mraz and Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra. She is joined by her trio featuring drummer Gene Calderazzo and bass player Mark Lewandowski’ more info here

Jazz at the Oxford whats on in london blue flamingoMonday 22nd Feb 2016 – Can of Worms presents Mike Soper Trio @ Jazz at the Oxford 20:30 £10/£5
‘Can of Worms explores that happy and unpredictable space where written and improvised worlds collide, diving deep into group improvisations and compositions featuring taut, tense grooves, wailing sax-confessionals and all-out glorious free-jazz’ more info here

 

Thursday 25th Feb 2016 – Fletch’s Brew @ Royal Albert Hall/Elgar Room 21:15 £13.75
‘In 2010, drumming tour de force Mark Fletcher founded Fletch’s Brew with Laurance Cottle (bass), Jim Watson (keyboards), Paul Stacey (guitar), Freddie Gavita (trumpet/flugelhorn) – a band which blurs the boundaries of musical styles and surpasses preconceived notions of jazz’ more info here

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Review: Let Spin Album Launch @ Vortex

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Much has been spun about ‘Prog-Post Jazz’ group Let Spin.  On a customary wet and miserable Dalston evening the Vortex audience were, wine glasses in hand, ready to hear their second album launch: Let Go.

Ruth Goller (bass) started the set with her tune I like to Sound Like a Rainforest. With its lyrically lamenting bass line it drew the audience’s attention with simple effectiveness.  Sax and guitar entered with the melody and it quickly settled into a strong 6/8 groove.  The improv section was much freer and angrier, giving us the first taste of the inner mind of Let Go.  Ending with a ‘bell’ toll, Rainforest was a great emotional journey of sounds.

Rainforest set the structural precedent for the next two tunes (Disa & All Animals are Beautiful): strong groove based head in irregular time, heavily free middle section, with a return to the groove at the end.

Disa by drummer Finlay Panter was rhythmically driven (9/4, 4/4, 5/4 time) and it was immediately clear that each member of Let Spin has a clearly distinctive compositional voice. Whilst the improv sections in the first three tunes went in similar directions, the tunes were clearly characterised by their writers.

Fourth in the set was the guitar led E.V.A., a tune by Guitarist Moss Freed. The sax danced on top of the guitar line like the crest on a wave: sax sat perfectly with the guitar and was yet comfortably independent.  E.V.A. was the first tune that ‘kept time’ throughout, refreshingly departing from the signature sound of the set thus far.  It was well placed in the set and by the applause level afterwards, it was an audience favourite.

The final tune of the first set was saxophonist Chris Williams’ ‘Walt’s Waltz’, a great tune in which the raucous Led Bib influences are clear.  (We initially understood the title to be ‘Waltz Waltz’ and with the 6/4 riff this made sense.  Nice to have an extra layer of meaning). The massive sound was ice water to the face (we like ice water) and the epic chaos in the middle was fun and a great way to end the first set.

Let Spin resists many of the traditional quartet idioms, for example each member taking a ‘token solo’. Sax acts as a voice, taking the tune and often giving us the most explosive solos. There are clear sections ‘without sax’ in which the various band members let loose, each musician dripping with virtuosity and creating varied and complex sound worlds.

The second set opened with 102 Hill Street, a tune from their first album Let Spin. The band came alive in this tune – a triumphal announcement letting us know that they were ready to play and show us what they’ve got.

Let Go contains two tunes from each band member. Their website describes them as ‘a band that is not afraid to make the most of their individual voices’. This is actually true (hurray for accurate band descriptions). The variety of the timbres in which they inhabit makes it much more interesting and accessible.

They play on this and the audience were asked to guess who wrote the next tune: Rotation. (we got it right! Panter.  Stickers for us).  His naturally rhythmically driven writing identifies strongly with him.

Next up was Killing our Dreams (Williams), a beautiful tune, as near to a ballad as we would ever hear with Let Spin. The writing for sax is highly lyrical, with repetition within a small range with Freed playing beautifully underneath. The band built behind the simple sax line in an utterly symphonic way in its colour and texture. The sound was huge, and the symphonic effect was completed by the three tonic major chords upon which it finished. True Beethoven.

Rothko’s Field had a latin flavour with Goller, Panter and Freed filling the space perfectly with their signature taste. Up and At Them (Williams) finished the set. The strong bass line played as ever energetically and powerfully by Goller, led to a great solo from Freed and top playing from Panter.  The massive timbres were a great way to finish.

To such applause they gave us an encore lullaby with which to send us home, the final tune from their first album, A Change Is Coming.

Let Spin certainly gave us a show. We cannot undervalue the great and distinctive voices brought by each member of the band. The variety is great, keeps us listening and exploring. Williams, Freed, Goller and Panter each write so powerfully and differently it is a wonderful thing when it all comes together.

Check out their rest of their tour dates here.
Buy the albums here .

Let Spin Album Launch @ Vortex, Saturday 24th October 2015
Set 1
1. I like to Sound Like a Rainforest
2. Disa
3. All Animals Are Beautiful
4. E.V.A.
5. Walt’s Waltz

Set 2
6. 102 Hill Street
7. Rotation
8. Killing Our Dreams
9. Rothko’s Field
10. Up and At them
Encore: A Change is Coming

-BF

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Down Street Wedding Photos

Popular Blue Flamingo Band Down Street had the privilege of playing at a beautiful wedding just over a month ago.  The gorgeous venue was the Great Hall at Royal Holloway.
Here are some beautiful photos from Kit Myers Photography.

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#BFRecommends September Gigs 2015 (London, Jazz)

There’s a plethora of stuff going on in September – but we’ve picked the gigs we’d most like to see!  Maybe see you there….

4th Sept 2015 CROWLEY/KANE/MADDREN @ The Con
Tickets: £5  info here

7th Sept 2015 MIKE CHILLINGWORTH SEPTET @ The Oxford
Tickets: £10/£5  info here

11th Sept 2015 AYANNA WITTER-JOHNSON @ King’s Place
Tickets: £6.50  info here

12th Sept 2015 DAVE O’HIGGINS @ 606
Tickets: Book a Table info here

23rd -26th Sept 2015 LOOSE TUBES @ Ronnie Scott’s
Tickets:  £30/£35/£45 info here

27th Sept 2015 MUSICIANS’ COMPANY YOUNG JAZZ MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 @ Pizza Express
Tickets: £15 info here

-BF

 

More September gigs here. 

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10 Epic First Dance Songs: Classic, Quirky & Stylish

Whether you’re looking for classic, quirky, stylish or popular here are a few of the BEST first dance tunes!

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud
We’ve had SO many requests for this great tune and you can see why…

Etta James – At Last
A favourite and oft performed by Jasper & Ruby

Can’t Take My Eyes Off of you – Lauryn Hill
A quirky take on an old favourite

I won’t Let you Go – James Morrison
Does what it says on the tin!

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square – Vera Lynn
‘Two Lovers met in Mayfair’ – a song for London Lovers

Lucky – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat
A Song for Best Friends (as recommended by @LaniCharlwood)

All At Sea – Richard Walters
Something a little different

Kiss Me – Sixpence None the Richer
So simple, so effective

Olly Murs – Dance With Me Tonight
Cheeky, fun & upbeat

 La Valse d’Amelie – Yann Tiersen
Something classical, beautiful & different.  Recommended by @andyjosefDAM, California, USA

and one more for free!….

Marry You – Bruno Mars
What more could you want?

Need more advice?  Get in touch and do let us know your favourites!
And by the way – that epic photo at the top?  By our friends Charlwood Photography!

~BF