Wicked UK tour and Patchwork Jazz Orchestra album plans

Since last posting I have been away for 9 weeks from November finishing the tail end of the Wicked UK tour, spending 4 weeks at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff and 5 weeks at the Palace Theatre Manchester. It was great to come back to this show as Wicked was the first West End theatre tour I ever did back in 2015 (and first ever real musical theatre experience I had, period), so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I have enjoyed depping on the show in London since 2015, but the opportunity to be playing it night after night gives you time to truly chisel away at the part and figure out what works best musically for the show. The drum part is quite malleable in one sense, yet simultaneously quite specific in others - so it’s a case of sifting out the areas than can be left to your interpretation and trying to bring out the best in it by making it sit as best as possible, and creating excitement and character when it is due. Fortunately Wicked is a show that allows this kind of exploration and for you to get deeper into the show each time. It’s very fluid (there’s next to no click tracks too) and you always have to be engaged. I had a fantastic two months with a great bunch of guys, and it was a pleasure to join the production for the end of its tour (and play on my own set up!).

I mentioned Patchwork Jazz Orchestra’s debut album last time I posted, which we recorded back in December 2017 at Air Studios and have been working on last year. Well, it’s finally finished and we are releasing it on March 1st with the album launch tour kicking off in a few days time! It’s called ‘The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes’ after pianist Liam Dunachie’s composition on the album, and features seven other tracks from different members in the band including two compositions by myself. The album really does sound fantastic and we are so pleased and with it. We’ve had some great reviews already and we’re really looking forward to finally being able to share it with the public. Visit the band’s website www.patchworkjazzorchestra.com to get your hands on a copy.

Below is a short clip of one of my compositions ‘Barcarolle’ from the session. It was the first thing we recorded when we got into the studio. I can still remember the excitement of it all and hearing our pieces back in the control room for the first time. Good times.

A year in review

It would appear I still haven’t quite figured out that a website doesn’t run itself and that this page is in danger of becoming an annual write up. Not good. Plus I only find myself here writing this as a way of avoiding doing my accounts. Also not good...!

But I’ll quickly bring things up to speed with some of the more recent highlights. Patchwork Jazz Orchestra’s debut album which we recorded last December at Air Studios is entering the final stages of mixing and mastering. It was great to have a couple of my compositions ‘Barcarolle’ and ‘Mind Palace’ recorded, and I’m super happy with how they have come out. The album will be released sometime in the first half of 2019. More info and updates at www.patchworkjazzorchestra.com and the band’s facebook page if you want to keep up with the latest. It’s going to be a fantastic record!

Rewinding to April, I had the chance to delve back into the world of percussion touring with Sheridan Smith. It’s been a while since I’ve been behind a pair of timpani but it was enjoyable to have a change of roll within a band and approach the music from a different perspective. A highlight as always to play at the Albert Hall for the London date on the tour, and nice to be on a gig with another drummer too which rarely happens! - great to play alongside Doug Harper holding it down on the tubs.

I’ve continued playing lots with my good friend Misha Mullov-Abbado who is doing very well with his group. Aside from a nice handful of gigs across the country this year we also we also made it over to Belgium last month, and have enjoyed a couple of live stream recording sessions for MQA as part of their demonstrations in master quality audio streaming. We were at the Pool Studio for one with a live audience listening in Munich, then at RAK studios for another with an audience in Denver! Just a shame we couldn’t hear them - I sure hope they were making up for the two or three people we had clapping in the studio.

Business as usual in the West End with Wicked and Aladdin, and I’ve been fortunate to have worked lots on Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre too since the summer. A very involved drum part and the novelty of being on stage has made it a great show to go in on. I’ve also very recently been in to cover on ‘Heathers’ at the Theatre Haymarket. Another heavy drum part but this time a chance to bring the rock chops and single strokes to the fore! Lots of fun.

Up next for me is a short two month stint taking over drum duties on the current Wicked tour in Cardiff and then Manchester, which will see me through to early January.

Until 2019! Scott

New music, new countries & new ventures

Ah. Well looks like it's been 8 months since I've been sat here at the typewriter. Better late than never though, and I've given myself plenty of room for improvement on how long I leave it until next time, so there's a couple of positives for you!

Where to begin... I suppose I should pick up from where I left off. Last time I posted on here I had just finished recording Misha Mullov-Abbado's second album 'Cross Platform Interchange', which is now complete and well and truly off the ground. We had a fantastic album launch gig at Kings Place in London on May 19th, and since then it has been receiving some very nice reviews. In April we were hugely privileged to be invited over to Mexico for a week where we played two amazing concerts with some of the loveliest audiences we've ever had, who all swarmed us after the gig for CD signings, photos, and in the case of one woman, a pair of my drumsticks...! Very much not the norm for a jazz group playing original music, but we made the most of it and enjoyed meeting lots of people. Delicious food, great weather and some Mexican wrestling topped off a very memorable week. A wrestling mask sits on my shelves nestled among some tambourines and a bell tree. Getting back on track... the album tour is up next - we've got some dates lined up across the UK spread over the next couple of months and a few more in the autumn. Check the 'live' page to see if we're playing near you! And if not then do grab a copy of the album and you can at least enjoy the band from the comfort of your own living room.

The Patchwork Jazz Orchestra has had a few more London outings recently (606 club, Omnibus Clapham, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden) and we are very excited to have recently confirmed a debut album recording at the magnificent AIR Studios at the end of December. To have a 17 piece big recording its own original music at studios as prestigious as these is a real treat, and we're absolutely thrilled to finally have it booked in as it's something that has been in the back of our minds since starting the band. The track listing hasn't been decided yet (we have in fact enough material to record two albums worth of music) but we will likely be recording one of my compositions, which makes it all the more exciting for me.

On the topic of orchestras, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra seems to be going from strength to strength and had had three very nice concerts over the last few months. First was Alan Menken's A Christmas Carol in December at the Lyceum Theatre. Next in March was Jason Robert Brown's A Honeymoon in Vegas at the Palladium, conducted by the man himself. This was a favourite of mine - right up my street and with plenty of big band influence in the music, and a heavily involved kit part. Most recently the orchestra also performed a concert of musical theatre scores from right across the ages at St Albans Abbey. It was probably the first and last time I'll end up playing Gershwin and ABBA in the same concert. From off the stage to beneath them in the pits, I've been enjoying depping on a couple more West End shows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (now finished its run), and also Disney's Aladdin, with Annie in the pipeline over the next few weeks which I need to start learning very soon.

Also in the near future I'm planning on launching remote recording from my home studio, which will feature here on my website. It's been a somewhat lengthy process collecting gear, fine tuning my studio space, and learning and discovering more and more about recording technique and mixing (which I realise never really ends) - Drums out of all instruments are very challenging to record well for various reasons, but I'm finally approaching a stage where I'm getting some fairly decent results and feel able to put myself out there. All that's left to say in the meantime is watch this space - hopefully all will be revealed in the next post!

S

New Misha Mullov-Abbado album underway

I've just got back from a jam packed 2 days at Fieldgate Studios in Cardiff with Misha's band, recording the group's second album for Edition Records. Misha is a fantastic bass player who I met whilst studying at the Royal Academy of Music, and completing the line up is Matt Herd and Sam Rapley on alto and tenor sax, trumpeter James Davison and Liam Dunachie at the piano. On the album however will be some additional guest musicians, as was the case with Misha's debut album New Ansonia. We've recorded a collection of new original compositions written by Misha, which are as eclectic as ever yet all have Misha's personality embedded in them, bringing all of the pieces together as a whole. Looking forward to how it's going to turn out!

If you haven't listened to New Ansonia then I'd recommend checking it out - and if you have, then keep your eyes and ears pealed around the beginning of next year when the new album should hopefully be released!

Here are a some snaps from the session:

Summer update

In conjunction with the recent facelift of the website it's probably about time I resurfaced on here! Lots to talk about actually. Recently I've found myself writing and arranging quite a lot of music which is always something I enjoy getting stuck into. I've certainly had my work cut out with projects varying from orchestrating music for an 11 piece band in Ibiza playing swing/big band, pop and soul classics, to writing charts for the UK's top Beyonce tribute act, to transcribing drum parts for prog-rock band King Crimson for their upcoming European tour. 

On the playing front I really enjoyed being a part of the launch of the London Musical Theatre Orchestra at the end of June. As a drummer, it's always a bit of a treat to play alongside a full orchestral section (strings in particular!) and it was great to perform a selection of some fantastic show music from across the years, from Gershwin's Crazy for You, to Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls, and some home turf for me with a bit of Wicked thrown in, among other works. The LMTO is all set for great things and I'm sure it will do well in the future. Read more about it and the launch night here, and via their website www.lmto.org.

LMTO launch - Bishopsgate Institute, 28th June 2016

After that it was off to Switzerland with the Misha Mullov-Abbado Group for 3 days playing at the Villars 'Big' - a festival gearing itself more toward big band music, despite being a cosy little town up in the mountains. We were perhaps a bit of an exception being a sextet, but glad they wanted to include us in the programme. Waking up to beautiful mountainous scenery with the snow capped Alps in view, a continental breakfast and hearing a swinging big band rehearsing is definitely my kind of morning!

Looking forward to the rest of the summer. Bye for now!

'Mosaic' album recording

I've just finished recording an album with vibraphonist Ralph Wyld and his band 'Mosaic' - which also features Sam Rapley (clarinets), James Copus (trumpet), Cecilia Bignall (cello) and Misha Mullov-Abbado (double bass). We had a great three days at the beautiful Real World Studios in Wiltshire with the added benefit of Jim Hart producing and also Alex Bonney on board who will be mixing the album. Ralph's original compositions sounded fantastic, I love the identity that this music has and I'm very excited to hear the finished product. It's due for release on Edition Records in September so keep a lookout for then. You'll be able to hear me not only on drums but glockenspiel too this time!

 
 

Close To You: Bacharach Reimagined

I'm really excited to be involved in 'Close To You', a new musical featuring some inspired reworking and new arrangements of over 30 of Burt Bacharach's songs by Kyle Riabko, in the form of a theatrical concert of continuous music. Having premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop followed by a sold out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it has just transferred to the West End at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. Right now I'm in the process of learning the show as the understudy for the current drummer James Williams.

 
 

I'm really excited to be involved in 'Close To You', a new musical featuring some inspired reworking and new arrangements of over 30 of Burt Bacharach's songs by Kyle Riabko, in the form of a theatrical concert of continuous music. Having premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop followed by a sold out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, it has just transferred to the West End at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. Right now I'm in the process of learning the show as the understudy for the current drummer James Williams.

I'm particularly looking forward to this little venture as it presents a lot of new things for me. A unique drums/percussion hybrid set up, learning the entire show by ear without any written music, and most of all being on stage and tapping into a bit of acting - the band make up the entire cast, and there's a lot of choreographed and staged parts to the show. So all in all I have a lot on my plate...! But I can't wait to get started. I've been watching the shows since the move to the Criterion and it looks and sounds fantastic. It's a very honest show - essentially a group of friends (and great musicians may I add) having fun, playing some classic songs in a fresh new way; something a little different to your usual West End theatre experience. Definitely work checking out!

Take a look at the show's website to find out more - www.closetoyoulondon.com

August update

All good things come to an end, and sadly this is the case with the Wicked tour! I've had an absolutely fantastic time over the last 6 months and have been incredibly fortunate to have had the drum chair on such a great show. With this being my first West End touring experience I wanted to share a few thoughts on it all.

6 months and 180 shows of playing the same thing? I'll be bored stiff by the end surely, I thought initially. But I was pleasantly surprised. I actually found playing the same pieces of music for that amount of time really allowed me to get inside them and discover more and more what made them work musically. I could gradually fine tune my part to the things which fitted the music best contextually, while not tying it down to the exact same motions every night. Even by the end of the tour I still felt I had room to grow and could easily have played more shows if the tour had carried on. All in all it was a very rewarding experience. The luxury of performing every night for an extended period of time is rare in many other musical contexts, and so it was great to have the opportunity to do that on this tour, and also to have the challenge of approaching each show with the same positive attitude and attention, which I'm glad to say I think I did. That being said, Wicked is not a show you can afford to switch off for either! At the end of the day I was playing good music, with great musicians and also lovely people. Things could have been worse...

Anyway, enough of that - there's other stuff to talk about too! In July the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra were in Italy on the island of Ischia, as I mentioned in my last post. We had a terrific time there and played a couple of really nice gigs, one featuring some classic big band repertoire and another of our own original music, including a couple of my compositions. Here's a short 'drum cam' clip I took during a rehearsal. Not a bad backdrop as far as rehearsal spaces go...

 
 

Next on the horizon is the release of Misha Mullov-Abbado's debut album 'New Ansonia' on August 28th. Find out more here on the Edition Records website. An album launch gig at King's Place is taking place on September 12th with subsequent tour dates (see 'live dates').

In other small news my modest home studio is up and running and very near completion in terms of acoustic treatment. Maybe there'll be a couple of photos and/or short video in the next post. It's very cool...

See you soon,

Scott

Scotland!

Being far from the new year it rather is time I wrote something new on this page. I'm sat here typing this from the tropical paradise that is Aberdeen, having arrived there yesterday morning (joking aside it was surprisingly hot!) My first time in Scotland, this will be home for the next 4 weeks as the Wicked tour continues. Very much looking forward to playing again after a week off back in London, and it would seem the audiences here are keen too - having heard that one individual apparently turned up to the show a year in advance...

I've recently had a listen to some mixes from Misha Mullov-Abbado's debut album we recorded back in March and dare I say it I believe we've got a fantastic album on our hands! It's due to be released in September with an exciting launch gig taking place in London the same month. More details to follow soon so do keep an eye out here or on Misha's website.

Proscenium had a successful debut at the Southbank Centre, with a large and enthusiastic audience and some top notch playing from all. Sadly due to logistical reasons, Nadim has recently had to step down from the band, however we are lucky to have another fantastic tenor sax player George Crowley on board in his absence. Proscenium's next gig is June 14th at Omnibus Clapham, which I have been working hard towards writing some new material which will be played then for the first time.

Meanwhile the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra will be making an appearance at the Vortex next month, before heading over to Italy for a couple of gigs in July. We've recently set up a Facebook page, on which videos from our launch gig at the 2014 London Jazz Festival are currently being uploaded. Check it out here and of course 'like' it to keep updated with any future activity!

That'll be all for now. Next time I'll try not to leave it 4 months before writing a new post - as I'm sure you must have all been positively dying with anticipation for this one. Still, you never know... 

Until then!

Scott

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 2015 looks set to be a good one, with some exciting events and projects lined up over the coming months.

First of all is the release of Tom Green's debut album 'Skyline', recorded with his septet last year at Real World Studios. I've been involved in this band since it's inception two and a half years ago, and it's great to have finally reached this point with the group. The album is due for release February 2nd, with a launch gig taking place at St James Theatre Studio in London on January 29th as part of an 18 date tour across the country. Watch the official promo video here for more info.

I'll also be heading into the studio with Misha Mullov-Abbado's Quintet in March to record his debut album, set for release towards the end of this year on Edition Records with a subsequent tour. Again, it's a real privilege to be part of a project playing new original music and equally exciting to have the chance to put it on record. Watch this space for further news!

My quintet Proscenium will be making some appearances this year, starting with March 13th at the Royal Festival Hall foyer, 1pm. Having launched the band last year and recorded some of my compositions in the summer, I'm really looking forward to some more live performances and moving forwards with this project. 

Lastly, I'm very pleased to have been given the opportunity of playing drums for the UK tour of 'Wicked' for the next 6 months, starting in Plymouth then making our way to Bristol, Sunderland, Aberdeen and finally Salford.

Here's to an exciting year!

Scott

PJO and London Jazz Festival preparations

The debut of Patchwork Jazz Orchestra is under a week now, with our London Jazz Festival launch gig taking place next Tuesday 18th at the Forge in Camden. We've been working really hard during the past few weeks rehearsing 2 sets of some fantastic new music written by a collection of us in the band, including arrangements I've written of two of my compositions, "Barcarolle" and "Mind Palace". Having a group of such great performers and composers in one place is a real privilege and we're all very excited to get this new project underway. The gig is all set to be a corker so do come down if you can!

We were lucky to have a feature in London Jazz News about the launch. Read all about it here.

The next week promises to be a busy one, starting with a 3 date mini tour with Tom Green's septet, followed by 4 London Jazz Festival dates which I'm very much looking forward to, including gigs with the London Vocal Project, Tom Green Septet, Patchwork Jazz Orchestra and Misha Mullov-Abbado Quintet - see the 'dates' page for more info.

Hope to see you at one of the gigs!

Scott

Welcome to my new website

I'm very pleased to finally have a new website up and running! Thanks for visiting - please do have a look round and check out some of my music and find out what I'm up to, and stay tuned for updates.

I'm also excited to be launching my new band 'Proscenium' which you can find more about on this website. Over the course of the next few weeks I'll be uploading a video of each track recorded, but in the meantime have a look at the teaser video on the 'projects' page!

Scott