Archive for April, 2014

Bach, followed by Jazz at the Garrick academy

April 19, 2014

It’s been quite a week musically for me. Last week started with going to the Dunedin Consort performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion, in the City Halls in Glasgow (a lovely venue!): a full three hours of one of Bach’s magnum opus’s (magna opera?), which was stunningly performed. Though sung in a secular environment, it retained its religious content, and clapping seemed a strange thing to do (would one clap in a Cathedral?):  but it was a wonderful performance, with solos, choir and orchestra all acting in unity.

And then on Monday, I went to the three-day jazz course run by Gabriel Garrick at the Yehudi Menuhin School, near Cobham, in Surrey. This was the first time I’d been to a residential Jazz course, (as opposed to some  Sunday afternoon sessions near here, years and years ago). I was quite nervous about this. Although I have played in a jazz band locally, it was a few years ago, and though I do try to play every day, it’s often not for long, and sometimes the work simply stops me from getting near the piano. But I was keen to find out what such a course would be like, and whether I could learn from it what I felt I needed to – particularly more about comping (accompanying jazz solos), and how to practise for playing jazz. I was not disappointed. In fact I was totally blown away by the tuition (particularly the piano tuition by William Bartlett, who is not only a very fine player, but a really good teacher as well). But here I must mention Kate Mullins, the singing tutor. I was backing one of the singers, with a clarinet, and a bass, and we had got the song together, and it sounded reasonable. But 20 minutes of Kate’s time, and we had a really good arrangement, that really blew me away! That’s an amazing skill.

Many, many thanks to Gabriel Garrick for putting this course on: I’ll be back if I can: I’d recommend it to anyone who is serious about playing jazz (and willing to work bloody hard for three days at it as well!)

So: back home now. Time to try to consolidate what I’ve learned, and time to get a new band together!


Birthdays and the new tax year

April 5, 2014

April 5th: the new (UK) tax year. But I’m on PAYE (pay as you earn), and rarely make any other income (examining the odd PhD thesis? not exactly going to make anyone rich!). But, more importantly, it’s the birthday of my brother’s twin boys. Not they they’re boys any more! Graham’s a Mathematician in Rio (just organising a new journal, Geometry and Topology), and Alistair’s an environmental scientist in Moscow, Idaho. What present might be appropriate for very grown-up nephews? Tricky! So I’ll just wish them both “Happy Birthday: Many Happy Returns!” on this blog.