I recently got back from a great trip from New York. As well as seeing lots of inspiring music and eating some lovely food, one of my main reasons for making the journey to the city was to make a duo recording with the pianist Michael Kanan.
I’m a big fan of Michael’s playing. He’s probably best known as a world-class accompanist of singers (he holds the piano chair in Jane Monheit’s band and worked with Jimmy Scott for a number of years prior to that), but I have also listened to him a lot on his own two trio records with Ben Street and Tim Pleasant (Convergence and The Gentleman Is a Dope), Kurt Rosenwinkel’s Intuit, two albums with Nat Su (The J. Way and Dreams and Reflections) and a more recent recent quartet date with Jorge Rossy, Putter Smith and Jimmy Wormworth, Gershwin.
I’d got to know Michael and had the opportunity play informally with him a few times since we met on my first trip to New York in the Autumn of 2014. In the summer of 2015 I had the idea of asking him to make a duo recording with me, and he was incredibly kind and encouraging throughout the whole process.
We had two days of recording in Michael’s studio space, the Drawing Room, in Brooklyn. Neal Miner (also a fantastic bass player and frequent colleague of Michael’s in Jane Monheit’s band and Michael’s own trio) recorded us with his portable set up. In comparison to how it might have been in a more traditional recording studio, it was so nice to do the session in such a relaxed setting: no headphones or booths, just a few microphones to record us playing some tunes.
The repertoire we played mostly comprised standards or jazz tunes that are slightly off the beaten track, plus a few that are more well known, and one original by me. We explored compositions by Jerome Kern, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Duke Ellington, Victor Young and Tadd Dameron.
It’s early days yet, and the recording still needs to be mixed, mastered and sent off to record labels, but I hope it won’t be too long before I can release it.
Other highlights of the trip included seeing Lee Konitz and George Coleman, two all-time greats of the saxophone, on the same night (in different venues, not on the same gig!) and going along to Dr Barry Harris’ regular theory and improvisation class. Harris is one of my favourite piano players, and another surviving jazz legend, so it was great to see and hear him up close.
Since I’ve been back in London I’ve been getting back into the swing of practicing, doing a few gigs and building this new website. I’ll repost a few things from my old website and try to put up at least semi-regular updates on gigs and progress on this recording.
Thanks for reading,