Category Archives: music

Hadley Fraser’s “Just Let Go”

Delighted to announce the landing of troubadour & chap Hadley Fraser’s solo EP “Just Let Go” today.

Hadley & I worked on The Pajama Game last year in Chichester so it’s a treat to carry on music-making with the gent. As well as being the world-class actor & singer that he is, he’s a very fine guitarist as well.

Musically, it’s some lovely country-tinged tuneage, which has plenty of dobro, mandolin & banjo from this scribe.

Please check it out, and enjoy!

http://hadleyfraser.bandcamp.com/releases

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New Album available!

People!
Very excited to announce the release of “A Song Cycle for Soho” Original Cast Recording:
Click here to see the album on iTunes

Currently available on iTunes with CD released soon!

Also featuring the multitudinous talents of MD Sarah Travis and cast Claire Moore, Niamh Perry, Michael Cantwell & James Gillan.

All new compositions, was a fantastic show to be involved with.

Enjoy!

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New video: Live from the studio!

Hello hello,

After a fun session yesterday with an exciting new project, I can share this clip of an improvised solo from the playout of a rather epic song:

It’s just the Suhr into a Line 6 POD Live X3 (there was a LOT of tone-tweaking going on that day…) but has a suitably arena-friendly sound I think.

It was a lot of fun to record, and the changes were surprisingly tricky to navigate on-the-fly without sounding too ‘jazz’.

Enjoy!

John.

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Jazz Study Tips

What ho,

Seeing as I’m away from home for an extended period of time with the “Love Story” band, I’ve had to be quite creative with my practice as I only have a finite amount of space & time available to me.

As my show work involves playing the same notes, reading from the same score, 8 shows a week, I’m always aware of the danger of my sight-reading ability atrophying as the weeks go by. Also, as I’m playing purely acoustic-based music, there’s the narrowing focus on stylistic playing that often requires a bit of expanding, just for maintaining my own interest.

So I decided to base a lot of work around Charlie Parker’s Omnibook, an epic tome of be-bop scribblings. My reason for packing this book was two-fold:

1) It’s a marvellous resource as a compendium of Parker’s soloing approach over a large number of standards.

2) The chromatic nature of his soloing makes it superb as a sight-reading text.

As I’m not a be-bopper at heart, I haven’t been as well-versed in Parker’s playing as much as some of my colleagues – something I’m trying to remedy. Besides standards like Au Privav, Anthropology, Ornithology & Donna Lee (which I know fairly well), I’m treating the transcriptions as sight-reading studies.

As I get more comfortable just reading through the book at different tempi, and in a variety of positions (and horizontal & vertical approaches), the patterns & lines cease to be sight-reading studies, and are gradually becoming internalised. I’m noticing, even after only a few days of this, that listening to the original recordings, I’m beginning to ‘decode’ the lines. For someone interested in developing their inner ear for jazz, I’d say this is a hugely useful approach.

Having this sort of time to dedicate to something like this is a tremendous luxury, and hopefully I’m making the most of it. A most satisfying endeavour, indeed!

The always-marvellous chap that is Mike Outram has compiled a Spotify playlist of all of the solos transcribed in the Omnibook – well worth checking out with the book to hand. Many thanks to him for sparing the time to do this.

If you have any thoughts or other tips, do let me know. In the meantime, listen for the changes, and try to keep up!

John.

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“Welcome back, my friends…

…to the show that never ends”, chorus a legion of prog fans around the world.

Yes, it’s that time of year where I plug my latest adventures in the pit – June sees me in the guitar chair for the premiere of Howard Goodall’s musical setting of the classic story/film “Love Story” at the prestigious Chichester Festival.

It’s a lovely score, for strings, piano & guitar (doubling classical & 12-string) – a wonderful and rare blend of lyrical & evocative writing, with some real finger-twisting ensemble moments. Marvellous!

Details for the show can be assimilated here: http://www.cft.org.uk/cft-productions_details.asp?pid=371

Come on down and revel in the sunshine and musical derring-do!

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“Soloing Concepts” videos

Dear all, I’ve started a series of tuitional videos on YouTube under the banner ‘Soloing Concepts’. This is going to be a continuing series of developing ideas that are designed to give you some concepts to apply to your playing and practice.

Part 1: Combining Disciplines

Part 2: Harmonic Variations

Part 3: Rhythmic Variations 1 , Rhythmic Variations 2

There are quite a few more in the pipeline, so please subscribe to my channel for updates!

Thanks for watching.

John.

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International Guitar Festival 2009

Firstly, welcome to my latest website/blog amalgam. It makes slightly more sense to parse the number of domains needed in my professional life, and this seems to be the most logical conclusion!

So, without further ado, on with the blog…

This year’s IGF is without a doubt the best one one I’ve been involved with thus far.  An incredible array of wonderful musicians, inspirational teachers, and a multitude of enthusiastic participants. All willing to chat gear, technique, and musical recommendations; and of course jam and banter in equal measure.

2009 brought us such luminaries as ace drummer Stanton Moore (with the incredible Wil Bernard on guitar) performing and teaching; workshops from Rob Harris and the Jamiroquai rhythm section; a face-melting concert from old IGF-hand Guthrie Govan & The Fellowship; and gigs from the IGF teachers, including John Wheatcroft’s gypsy jazz evening.

So, a pretty packed week, even without factoring in my teaching requirements!

This year, my Extreme Rock class (\m/) performed a diverse range of metal tracks – we learnt Motorcycle Driver by Joe Satriani (from ‘The Extremist’), Killers by Iron Maiden, and a Zakk Wylde-meets-guitar-orchestra arrangement of HillBillie Jean, by John Jay Smith Michael Jackson, as arranged by me in a caffeine-abetted marathon the week before.

My class did a sterling job at the Student Concert on Friday, so well done guys! Seamus, Michael 1, Will, Josh, Theo, Jack 1, Jack 2, Michael 2 and Alessandro – you all rock, and your great performance in the gig is testament to the hard work you put in over the week.

Thank you!

Post-concert, of course, came the farewell jam session, and I had a rather good time with Jonny Scaramanga, Hugh Richardson & Martyn James, with a chest-thumpingly intense rendition of Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (according to Jonny, it was played ‘with unprecedented bodaciousness’). Of course, we took extended solos, and I even added the 9th into the A minor pentatonic, just to show that I play jazz…

Oh yes, and I played it on my latest acquisition – a new, un-modded Squier Strat. Yup.

So, all in all, a great week! Thanks to everyone who helped – all my old friends, and new ones from the week – your great company and hard work made it a week to remember!

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