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NK at the Festival Hall

Really special to guest appear for the finale of Nigel Kennedy’s magical London Festival Hall concert last night and massive pleasure to play with Howard, Rolf, Yaron and Pete. Ferocious musicianship chaps. Can’t wait for all the upcoming gigs.

Great to hang with so many of the old gang at Nigel’s afterwards with jamming, mellow vibes and great conversation well into the next day. Vintage. How many times I’ve seen the sun rise through those windows I don’t know…

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Gigs, Gershwin and Gibsons

Great to be playing with Nigel Kennedy again at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival this weekend and fabulous to get my teeth into his arrangements of George Gershwin, ranging from Porgy and Bess, Rhapsody in Blue to Oh Lady be Good. Nigel also has a strong new Kletzmer flavoured composition ‘The Magician of Lubin’ based on the Isaac Singer book -looking forward to reading that. Apart from some Bach and Django this was all new music to me. A brand new band too. I’ve toured with them all individually but for them all to become avaliable at once is terrific. With Rolf Bussalb on guitar, Yaron Stavi on bass and Pete Adams on Cello we truly have the A team and the whole thing couldn’t fail to sound anything than total dynamite. Please check the Gigs page for upcoming dates.

This gig was the first outing for my Godin 5th Avenue guitar. Those looking for a bit of an Eddie Lang vibe should check this one out. I am also forming an association with another major guitar company. Details coming soon…

Few can have failed to notice the current financial crisis of the iconic Gibson guitar company as well as the social media rumour mill throwing out it’s wildly speculative angles; one such being that Joe Bonnamassa is in the running as a major share holding CEO. This strikes me as unlikely, although as someone who is famously business canny and as a brand in himself could raise the finance, quite feasible. Either way Joe has been the ultimate ambassador for classic Gibsons and as someone with a demonstrable passion for the beasts is the perfect kind of person for the gig. I have bought Custom Shop and Memphis Gibsons over the past few years and am of the opinion the Gibson have been making the finest, most solidly built guitars they ever have. Long may they thrive – and so they will under the auspices of a CEO who truly cares for, and respects the history of the brand.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Going to be splendid to be hooking up with maestro Nigel Kennedy again for concerts in Europe and UK in May. Much fresh repertoire and some familiar…George, Johan, Nigel, Jimi, Antonio et al. Yes as I cast my hands mysteriously over my crystal ball I see a line of guitar stands, some olympic level tuning, a bunch of tiny dots on a page, gluten free bread (quite procurable) and sweet vibes from all quarters (ditto). Working should be a pleasure innit…so looking forward to this. Orange times ahead. Hey It’s only sonic flower arranging but I like it.

Many moons since my last update. Largely immersed in a huge project related to my late great friend Phil Miller and his legacy. We’re feeling our way and the archive is already huge as you can see, and growing exponentially so please bear with us while we catalogue, listen, research and generally catch up. The link’s here. Enjoy.

Otherwise I’m back on the sessions. I’ve always enjoyed that focused but fun vibe. Plus I get to ride on the Central line which really is as spectacular and atmospheric as they say.

Exponentially is a new word I am working up. I think it worked well today and I am confident I will soon be using it quite casually.

My little oration…

This is what I said at Phil Miller’s funeral. I was pretty sick and couldn’t organise a proper speech, so on the day I just spoke spontaneously and without notes. Herm asked me if I could get it down. It’s not quite verbatim but close ; –

 

‘When I first heard Phil’s music as a teenager I wanted to meet him. I had a mental profile of the kind of people I hoped I would encounter in life and you only had to hear a few bars of one of his passionate guitar solos or majestic compositions to suggest that here was someone who was not only a vital musician but also essentially a thoroughly decent human being with a great big heart. 

I got to meet him properly when In Cahoots appeared with Caravan at the London Astoria sometime in the late nineties. We had a lot in common and got on well. He invited me round for a ‘cuppa’ and I was delighted to find that my positive instincts about the man behind the music were correct and so we became very good friends. I insisted upon it!

Musically he became something of a mentor to me. I was determined to learn something from his advanced harmonic systems in particular and really loved to play his compositions that he would tutor me through with endless patience and good humour as I waded through bar after bar of finger knotting chinese puzzles. He enjoyed my phrasing, and I was thrilled and honoured that he wrote Delta Borderline for me and employed me to play on various other tracks where he had crafted bespoke parts that were often complex but always beautifully logical. I have the happiest memories of recording those parts and hearing the music come to life. I have equally happy memories of his wild eyed expressions of maniacal glee accompanied by his trademark faux sadistic cackle as these increasingly fiendish parts were presented,

The man was absolutely indivisible from his music. To go for a walk with Phil was like enjoying one of his more serpentine pieces or solos. He would always want to take a less obvious turning just to see what was there. You could end up somewhere quite unexpected, or even jumping on a bus to somewhere of such dubious glamour as Romford on the pretext of going to a guitar shop, but really just for the pleasure of the trip out, the passing scenery and musings on lives glimpsed from the top deck. He took an almost incandescent delight in the most simple, mundane things. Parks, canals, railways stations, grey London streets… It was all grist to his creative mill. He was an earthy man, very connected to his environment and in tune with the pulses of life. At the same time there was an ethereal quality to him with a sense of awe and wonder at the depths and mysteries of the universe, underpinned by a keen intellect that he kept politely and very humbly hidden. He was not naturally demonstrative … but its all there in the music.

Phil’s working method was usually painstaking and methodical and he was full of gratitude to the extent that Herm (a fine artist in her own right) supported him in this. Indeed it was abundantly clear how much he appreciated her and her boundless love and support generally. She was a major contributor the the fact that I would grade Phil as a basically happy and content person, and also that his music could be bought into existence at all.

Yes, Phil was a truly loving and beautiful soul first and his music sprung organically from that. You could never think of him without affection and the most vivid metaphor I can think of for him was as a warm heater in a cold room. HIs energy was such that his very presence would improve the general sense of well being in any gathering. His vibes were inspiring and you wanted to spread them far and wide. He didn’t think of himself as a spiritual person but he truly was, in that deepest sense, and I honestly cannot think of a finer tribute to anyone than to be able to say that.’

Obituary for Phil Miller in The Times

Phil:Times

The Times! Excellent! Apologies for the rough scan but the point is it’s there.

Phil left me all his pedals and Marshall amp. Sat here surrounded by his stuff. This is all getting a goooood work out later.

Not the time now but Phil’s music is going on in a BIG way.  Watch out for a sonically majestic 2018…

Phil Miller

One of my dearest friends passed over today. Phil was the gentlest, kindest most generous soul I think I’ve ever met. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour in mid summer. I saw him only a few weeks ago. He was obviously weak and the prognosis was poor but his attitude was beautiful and sunny and full of gratitude for the beautiful music he had created and been a crucial part of. He was one of the greatest composers ever and a stunningly inventive and original guitarist. I have a lot more to say about Phil the musician but that will suffice for now.

I spoke to him on the phone barely two weeks ago. He sounded weaker but still the same beautiful attitude. My thoughts are with his devoted wife Herm at this time. Please send her loving energy and to Phil for his gifts to the world.

Red Light’s On…

No more gigs till next year so up and down to Soho for sessions. The mega Christmas cinema and TV ads – all the big brands. Amazing films! Love the buzz and really exciting composing and performing on the spot. Just found out one of my recent ads won a Golden Globe for best music. That doesn’t hurt!

Also gives me great shopping opportunities around Holborn/Covent Garden. I like good clothes, man! All most satisfactory.