Late Summer saw the NFL visit London. I was fortunate enough to play at Wembley as part of the celebrations with HCB and got to meet the ladies of the NFL Allstar Cheerleaders.
Some sad news at the start of the year was that Chameleon Brass decided not to develop the quintet any further. This means that while we will on occasion still play together as a group, we will not be developing new repertoire or working on any creative projects. We will however continue to work on corporate engagements and with other ensembles on an ad hoc basis. The group has a legacy of almost 20 years and the recordings are still available from iTunes and other download sites.
I was very fortunate to be asked to play on the new comedy album by comedian Phil Nichol. Phil was nominated for the Perrier Award in 1993 and has had great success since headlining in many comedy clubs around the UK. He also also a versatile actor working in theatre, TV and film with a CV far to long to list here.
Education work didn't stop in the latter half of the year with the new term at Eltham College starting with the launch of the new 'Mottingham Street Brass Band'.
A few lads from HCB joined us to give a workshop in the afternoon and in the evening we joined forces with the Dixie Band, Junior school pupils and members of the audience to give a rousing concert culminating with a massed band playing the Rebirth Brass standard 'I Feel Like Funking It Up'.
In mid July, Capital Brass played the annual graduation ceremonies for Staffordshire University. This week long gig was my 15th year with the group, and its always an inspiration to see so many graduates achieving so much.
After hitting Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania (twice), the tour finished with us playing at a beach party in Montenegro.
With the demise of Chameleon Brass I was keen to explore a new creative process, perhaps away from brass chamber music that has dominated so much of what I have done over the past 20 years.
With this in mind, in August I formed a new group called 'Flow', consisting of me on trombone and electronics, Andrew Melivin on piano, Shima Melvin on harmonica and Ivo Stankov on violin.
I spent much of August arranging music for this most unusual group and had a 'proof of concept' rehearsal at the end of the month.
There were some extremely promising results and I was really please with the sound. Although due to diary conflicts, we were unable to meet for the rest of the year, I am expecting some very interesting things from this very exciting group in the future!
The band with Cmd Chris Hadfield
During the visit to Dallas, I had one of the best days ever at the Livid Lobster studios. I got to meet one of my all time heroes, and favourite people in the world - Cali Lewis. Cali is a major star of the internet and Queen of all the geeks! She currently hosts GeekBeatTV which is a pod cast about all that is geeky - We had a great day hanging with her, John P and the whole Livid Lobster crew.
The year finished off with two weeks playing laser harp and trombone with the last ever 'Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People' gigs. As usual, the shows were a delight of chaos, and I got to play and meet some incredible people, including Prof Brian Cox, Prof Alice Roberts,Simon Sing, Ben Goldacre and the wonderful Dr Helen Czerski to name but a few.
This year, we were particularly fortunate to do a couple of shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, where I got to play a 5 watt laser harp, and play with the amazing astronaut Chris Hadfield.
One of my favourite gigs with HCB is the once a month gig at the Hackney Attic. HCB curates an event which features an up and coming artist. However, in May we were extremely fortunate to feature an already very well known Artist, Eliza Doolittle. Eliza's first album debuted at number 3 and produced 2 UK top 40 hits. This was her first gig in about a year and we were really excited that she featured some material from her new album and sung a couple of tunes with the band too.
In July and August I played so more gigs with HCB and the Gold Diggers Brass Band. I found myself back at the Olympic Park, playing the one year anniversary of the the Opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
A few days later the band were back at the Attic for a great collaboration with Hip-Hoppers 'Lazy Habits'
Prof Alice Roberts
Late in 2012 I was offered the gig of playing in Stephen Sondheims' 'Merrily We Roll Along' at the Chocolate Factory in London, later transferring to the West End, but sadly with so much in the diary, I wasn't able to take it. Instead, the chair went to Magnus Dearness of HCB which meant that I had a few more months of mining for awesome gigs with the lads. We played tons of great dates including the Big Chill and at the Hootenanny in Brixton. The band are always great value and such a great bunch of guys to work with.
In August I took a well earned break touring some incredible places in the States. Staring in Boston, we went on to Cape Cod, New York, New Orleans (where I discovered the amazing Pocket Aces brass band - pictured below), Houston and Dallas.
In November I found a little time to finish the Hy-5 synth that I started building. Its a very simple bit of kit based around the 'Makey-Makey' I used an old patch bay and soldered the two together. I can now 'plug in' people in the crowd at gigs and Hi 5 them to play notes!
Live in Prishtina
One of the more interesting corporate gigs this year, was playing for 'Speedo' as part of their 'Body Confidence for Women' campaign. The band was booked to accompany 40 models and 'real women' as they paraded along the streets of West London in swimwear.
Hard at work with my Education work at Eltham College, JAGS and St Dunstans College Last year I applied for a grant from the Eltham College Development Commitee to fund visit from the world renowned trumpeter Alison Blasom. After many months of negotiation, Alison found time in her unbelievably busy schedule to visit my pupils at EC, giving a master class, and playing some of her repertoire for us.
Alison plays with an achingly beautiful tone and it was a real honour for both me and my students to spend some time with her. All of my students were hugely inspired by her - me too - and I'd like to thank her for finding the time, and giving us such a wonderful evening.
Alison also found time to sign some of her CD's at the end of the night which was a really great time for all the students to meet her . Louis Barclay (pictured) will be starting at the Royal College of Music in September, and gave a superb performance on the natural trumpet, ahead of Alison's exciting new show, 'Gabriel' at the Globe theatre in London
Cali Lewis and John P from the awesome podcast - GeekBeat.TV came to London in October to give a keynote speech. While they were here they took the time to make a dream come true for me and do a whole show about the laser harp!
It was so much fun hanging with the Livid Lobster guys again, and I'm fortunate enough to now consider these two amazing people good friends.
The laser Harp at Hammersmith
May and June saw loads more work with HCB, playing at the Isle Of Wight Festival, a tour of the Balkans covering 7 countries in 7 days and a weekend in Cornwall with some educational workshops with some young musicians.
The audiences were great at all the gigs, but my favourite sets had to be those outside in amongst the crowd. You can get an idea of the atmosphere from the shaky YouTube video below
Education continued to dominate much of my work and in the Spring of 2013 I was delighted that the Dixie Band that I run at Eltham College was fortunate enough to play at the world famous jazz club, Ronnie 'Scotts' here in London.
With just a short set of 3 songs the band showed a diverse range of music inspired by the dixie tradition along with a 21st century take on our last number!
Although I was keen to explore new areas outside of brass chamber music, it is something that I love and couldn't really ever be without. In September, along with a couple of Friends, we formed 'Arosa Brass', a flexible brass chamber group covering all bases. Our first gig was certainly in style, being in the South of France with the first rehearsal being IN the pool!
A website is in development and will be up and running soon!
September saw some more great gigs with HCB including one at a great venue - The Tate Britain in London. I also joined the lads for the Northern tour promoting the new album and playing at 'Band on The Wall' in Manchester atCraig Charles' do.
After a great New Years Eve gig with the Empire State Band, there wasn't much turn around time before I was off to Germany with the Hackney Colliery Band to open Hamburg's newest and coolest club, Mojo's. It was a really enjoyable 48 hours and a great gig, sharing the stage with the very talented Alice Russell.