Here are some photos of the recording session for the Kinky Wizzards 25th/26th June 2016.
This is without doubt one of the most intense yet, exhilarating and hilarious experiences I have ever had in the studio.
The new album to come out is one where myself, Miff and Jiff have really pushed ourselves technically, all the while, keeping our sense of humour and grooviness in check. It is an album that I am proud of and I look forward to releasing it in the not too distant future.
You can call music amazing all you like; you can overuse that adjective in abundance all over the comments sections of social media platforms, but to me, it isn’t amazing unless it reaches a part of your soul that identifies with you in a way that is so resonantly truthful to oneself, that it brings tears to your eyes, sends shivers up your spine, and there isn’t really a tangible way in which your love of it can be expressed.
Which is exactly what I experienced about a month ago when I discovered Laura Nyro via the Lefsetz letter. When I Followed through Bob’s description song by song, I was very quickly sold, and off I went, searching for her music.
The first track I heard was ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ then ‘Stoney End’. Instantly recognisable hits from The Fifth Dimension and Barbara Streisand but Nyro wrote them!
As I ventured Nyro’s catalogue throughout a night of insomnia, I started to slowly unravel her genius: her angelic voice, that demanded your attention from everything between a soft whisper or a bellowing cry, her virtuosic piano playing that could interweave the simplicity of a solid backbeat of a catchy rock n’ roll pop tune with the dreamy complexity and space of jazz, not to mention the stunning arrangements of tracks such as ‘Lu’, ‘Poverty Train’, ‘Gibsom Street’ or my personal favourite ‘Captain for Dark Mornings’…some of those tempo changes too!!!
But the key thing about Laura Nyro is her soulfulness, sensitivity and sincerity. One of those few artists that can elevate certain feelings of love, loss and loneliness to above and beyond. Like those few artists, she died way too young, and it breaks my heart even more so when I listen to her.
As a Friday Night listening to Nyro transcended into a Saturday morning, and after a train ride and a strong coffee, I popped into the record store and bought 5 albums!
I’ve been telling everyone about her ever since, and only 1 person out of everyone knew who she was, having fallen under the radar whilst other artist’s renditions of her songs turned them into hits.
You’ve got to hear Laura herself though…she’s too good not to be heard by so few.
I have spent the last 8 months embarking on a jazz album. I’ll be the first to admit, I am by no means a straight out jazzer, I walked out of a college open day for a four year jazz course concluding that there was simply too much rock and roll in me. (Which is probably why I ended up in the art rock world!)
The elusive element about jazz is that it is a language of it’s own within the musical world, something where freedom and chaos reigns hand in hand with knowledge and sophistication. The one thing I’ve discovered over the course of playing solos over jazz standards or anything for that matter is how inherently powerful singing is and how it can improve your improvisation.
Especially from a guitarist’s point of view; the guitar is a wonderfully convenient instrument when it comes to shape and scales but the negative factor of that is that the mechanical process of playing the instrument can leave the player in a state disregard for the other essential two points of the triangle, the theoretical and the musical. I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen players who’s improvisation has been dictated by their fingers…myself included!
The beautiful thing about singing is that it comes straight from your heart and mind, without any preconceptions: it is immediate. I’ve linked a track that I have played on below and I think out of the entire selection of jazz recordings it is my strongest because I sang every phrase that I played before playing it. It takes a lot of practice but it’s worth it. So if any guitarists out there feel like they are caught stuck in making a fine solo, besides doing the practice, try singing, you may well surprise yourself!