Today’s simple jazz knowledge exercise: Complete the following sentence – X has been a professional musician for 20/25/30 years (delete as applicable), has established a big reputation as a sideman/ collaborator in …….., ……., …….. (insert names of widely celebrated artists/ projects) and is only now releasing their first album as a leader.
It struck me when I was reflecting on Simon Purcell’s thoughts about recording as a leader (and of course his name fits in that sentence nicely), that its been a year of ‘about timers’, some slightly more visible than others. Jake McMurchie has a few projects to insert in the collaborations section, but after 20 years Michelson Morley‘s Aether Drift is his first release as a leader. We caught Alison Rayner’s Quintet in fine form at the Hen and Chicken recently playing material from her debut release August, a landmark that’s taken more than 20 years. I may be wrong, but I think bass player Dominic Howles’ recent release Bristolian Thoroughfare may be his first as a leader, a journey that started 20 years or so ago in Bristol. What to make of this? No doubt the vicissitudes of life play their part alongside more internal inhibitors alluded to by Simon, but it just makes me wonder if, for all the challenges of the seismic changes in the music industry, one benefit is that getting music out to a potential audience is more achievable now. What ever the reason, it’s a cause for celebration and these releases are unquestionably those of musicians who know how they want to sound, they are very personal.
Even if it is more achievable to get music out, it still takes organisation and cash! Another much recorded and celebrated musician, Mike Walker broke through the ‘about time’ barrier just once and released Madhouse and the Whole Thing in 2008, but so far it remains his only album as leader. Now he’s stared a crowdfunding for another album. I want to hear that album! So I’ll pay for it now, even if I may not get my copy until 2016! That would be ‘about time’ too I reckon, more than ten years after the first was recorded (although released in 08). Anyone can join in here. Its just another option open that wasn’t 20+ years ago. He’s halfway to his goal of 5,000 at the time for writing.
A little related end thought: as I’ve been writing, the participants for the 10th edition of ‘take 5’ have been announced. The scheme, run by Serious with a raft of backers works with musicians of the calibre I’ve mentioned here but earlier in their careers (adventures?). Its professional development and career development for jazz musicians. I was fortunate to get an insight into the course on a visit to their residential last year – I wrote about it here link at the bottom of the page. Would those ‘about timers’ have benefited from something like this? Definitely maybe I’d say. So a little hurah to that coalition of funders and Serious for making this happen for over 100 musicians over ten years.