Birmingham Jazz put on live gigs Friday nights. Here are Greg Abate– Sax; Elliott Sansom– Piano; Ben Muirhead– Bass and (not shown because I was sitting behind a pillar) Nathan England-Jones– Drums.
The sketches are done small in a pocket book, soft pencil on rough paper, some of them inked over at the time or a day or so later.
I only started drawing in the final few tracks, letting the music guide the pencil. What i wish I had captured is the way the pianist and bassist grinned at each other at the feats they were performing.
This was athletic music, rhythmic, dexterous, controlled, coordinated and, above all, fast jamming. Abate has clearly been around, but these other guys, the Elliott Samson Trio, are young, barely out of college.
This is another Saturday view of St Paul’s church in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. The tools here are brushpens delivering waterproof ink, a limited selection of watercolour pencils and a waterbrush. The exercise is to draw sparingly but build texture with pen marks.
The night before we had gone to a Birmingham Jazz gig in the 1000 Trades pub in the Jewellery Quarter. The singer was Fini Bearman, supported by amazing jazz pianist Tom Cawley and bassist Calum Gourley and the songs were lyrical, syncopated versions of Bowie classics.
I was moved to draw, but also to stop to just watch and listen.
Here are the few sketches I did that evening.
I came across Post Modern Jukebox for their great cover of George Michael’s Careless Whisper (at the time, I was practicing that melody myself, badly, on guitar). They are a rotating musical collective playing current songs with a 1930s jazz twist, brainchild of New York jazz pianist Scott Bradlee. My daughter and I got into watching their prolific output on YouTube. Try Haley Reinhart singing Radiohead’s Creep or again singing All about the Bass with a three other vocalists.
They are still on a UK tour. We saw them in snowbound Birmingham on 2nd March. For me the star was diminutive, understated clarinettist and saxophonist Chloe Feoranzo. I did not get the names of the guys – the bassist, the trombonist and the tap dancer. The other singer shown below is Dani Armstrong (the linked video is not official – the best I could find is shot from the audience in another performance). The unnamed pianist in this performance was not Scott Bradlee (a real franchise this operation!). Ahead of Dani’s Chandelier, he slowly captured the audience’s attention by building a series of cadenzas, subtly shifting the key with each iteration. Not pictured here is Emma Hatton, English singer who took on Haley Reinhart’s numbers on this tour.
These were drawn afterwards from memory and poor quality shots taken on my phone from far away.
As I say, PMJ is not a band but an ever-changing collective. I would like it if they gave more credit to the singers and musicians they recruit as they roll through each country on tour. They deserved the plaudits and I have had to scour the net and twitter to identify those I could.
I don’t think I fully realised what 40000 years of evolution as commensal species have done to wolves and sapient apes.
Is a dog sentient, not by lupine nature but by conditioning, living with people who call things and actions and themselves by names? Does this shape their awareness? Is our talk a word-cage which constrains them?
These were drawn with a charcoal pencil stick, which snapped into two stubs when he pulled hard on the lead as I tried to sketch him outside. These are small, in a pocket book of cartridge paper. Its hard to capture simplicity of shape and neglect the fur.
I think he sees us use our hands and he wants to imitate, but only has his mouth to manipulate things. That’s why he bites my laces as I tie my shoes. He read my son’s favourite book with his teeth, but despite shredding several pages did not get the plot.
This election has pitted a positive optimistic vision from Labour against the miserable inward looking austere negative Conservatives. It’s an uphill battle: hope is frightening, always with the risk of disappointment whereas the Conservatives offer the narrow comfort of savage certainty.
And there really was a double rainbow.