June 2014

As ever, it’s been a while since the last post. Lots has been going on and many exciting things are set to take place over the last few months…


Enjoyed playing at Wakefield Jazz recently as part of Ronnie Bottomley’s Jazz Orchestra on the anniversary of D-Day. This weekend, I am heading to Burton Agnes Jazz Festival to perform with Paul Baxter’s Jazz Orchestra and then straight back to Leeds for the now sold-out Yorkshire Jazz Suite premiere at Seven Arts on Sunday. I’ll be playing a 40 minute set with LOCUS, this time featuring special guests Tom Riviere and drummer Steve Hanley. We’re playing music by myself, Riley and Leah and I’m thrilled to be playing with Leah again, who will be flying into the UK tomorrow and travelling from NYC-Dublin-Edinburgh-Leeds in 24 hours(!) – real dedication to the cause…

While she’s here, Leah and I will continue our plotting for November’s LOCUS tour. We’ve got some really exciting dates lined up which we will be revealing soon.

In July, Riley and I are pleased to be joining Veronneau on some of their UK tour dates. We’ll be at Beatherder Festival on July 20th, The Lescar in Sheffield on July 24th, HEART in Leeds on July 26th and Whighams in Edinburgh on July 27th.


Over the last few months, we’ve launched our new branding, a blog and a website. We’ve hosted the Fat Face UK Tour (an 11-date tour from this great North Carolina trio) and are gearing up to welcome Veronneau in July. LOCUS Tour comes up in November and we will be announcing our new artist soon, who will tour the UK in early 2015. We’ve also started talks with an exciting collective about a European Exchange programme for 2015. News on that soon!


April Update 2014

Photo by Porl Medlock                              Panel discussion at Meet Jazz North, Penrith (Photo: Porl Medlock)

Hectic March has just finished and I’m looking ahead to April and May, our first Transatlantic Apollo tour and new plans for LOCUS.

The above photo was taken at a full day event we held at UpFront Gallery near Penrith with Jazz North and BlueJam Arts. (It confirms that my default face is angry, though I promise I had a lovely time…!) We had a fantastic day and I was blown away by standard of musicianship and of creativity that Jilly Jarman and her team inspire in people. I really hope we work with them again soon. It’s days like that one that confirm to me why I spread my work across both the performance side and the industry side of jazz.

APOLLO – We are gearing up to welcome Fat Face Trio to the UK from North Carolina for their May/June tour. We’ve got 11 dates across the UK lined up for them and I’m certain it will a great tour. We’re just firming up all the promotion for them now so look out for a full list o tour dates being revealed soon.

LOCUS – Leah and I are working on plans for more recording and more gigs this year with LOCUS. I’m so ready to play with them again and work on some new material. Regardless of the fact that we live 3000 miles apart, it’s great to find another musician with whom you work so well and I am determined to build on last year’s tour success and take another step forward with the band.

Jazz Education Conference – I am pleased to be on the bill as a speaker for this year’s Scottish Jazz Education Conference on August 29th. My session is entitled ‘Learning Jazz from the Nursery to Professional Musicianship’ and I’m honoured to be featured alongside the musicians who had such a large impact on me as a young musician; Richard Michael, Tommy Smith and Richard Ingham.

I’m looking forward to some great gigs coming up – a sextet performance at Seven Arts in conjunction with Jazz Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Festival in June and an appearance at the Marsden Jazz Festival with Louise Gibbs and her septet in the autumn. After that, our LOCUS tour kicks off and some more dates will be announced soon.

January 2014

As usual, a long time has gone by since I last updated, so here is a short look at what’s happening…

Apollo – 2014 is shaping up to be an exciting year for us at Apollo. This year, we debut our transatlantic partnership and bring across two American groups to tour in the UK. In June, Face Face led by trumpeter Matt Postle will travel from North Carolina and in July, vocal-led quartet Veronneau will be here. Later in the year, LOCUS will undertake another set of dates following our recording in the US last year and some exciting one-off dates are also planned. Full dates and details will be announced soon.

Performance – My good friend, vocalist and composer Louise Gibbs has invited me to work with her in her Northern Septet performing her new work, Seven Deadly Sings. Her album is released today (see this album preview for details) and I’m looking forward to working with the group soon.

I’m looking ahead to the next LOCUS project now, having made recordings of 4 original pieces plus some great HD video footage of the session at Tedesco Studios in December. Our next gigs are likely to be in autumn but there may some extra ones popping up before then so stay tuned…

Jazz Industry – I travelled to Glasgow earlier this month to attend the first SJF board meeting of 2014. I’m looking forward to working with them in the coming year and it’s nice to be involved in the Scottish jazz scene again! There are many things in the works with Jazz North – we’re running another Scene Builders event for musician-promoters at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival in April and we have a number of How Do We Get More Gigs sessions lined up. You can check on the news at the Jazz North website.

We also rebranded the blog for 2014 and have become NorthernJazzNews. It’s been just over a year since I became editor for the site and I’m looking forward to another year of writing!

New Apollo Logo


Thanks to Oli Bentley and SplitUK for our brand new logo! Other branding materials are in the works and will be released soon. Apollo also has it’s own twitter page now and you can follow us here – @apollojazznet

October News

I started October rather slowly, as I have been laid low for the past week with a back problem. As much as I hate being unproductive (and in a lot of pain!) it did force me to relax and take time to read, watch movies and make plans. I’m slowly getting back into work mode and the next few months are looking pretty busy…

New York 

There are 6 weeks to go until we leave for New York. As well as my lessons with Ingrid Jensen, I’ve also booked in a session with Ralph Alessi. He’s an incredible improviser and I’ve always enjoyed his playing, so I’m excited to spend time with him. Due to some rescheduling necessities, we’ve ended up with a few days at the start of our trip before the lessons, rehearsals and recordings. I’m so happy about that – I was concerned about how tired I’d be after our journey so having a few days to get in the zone is great news! Also, Leah and I have decided on the studio we’ll be using which I’m very excited about!


This week, we launch Apollo Collaborations at HEART in Leeds. We’re bringing David Austin Grey from Birmingham and Stuart McCallum from Manchester, together with Tom Riviere and Steve Hanley from Leeds. I’m excited to hear the results and we’ll be recording the gig for our archives, so clips will be available soon. In the next few weeks, I’ll be getting together with Oli and his team at Split UK to work on the branding for Apollo. We’re aiming to have everything ready by the time we head over to the US. I’ve been working on establishing a team of people to work together on Apollo as it’s growing quickly and I want to make sure we can keep up! All this will be revealed when we launch the branding campaign, so stay tuned.

Scottish Jazz Federation

I’m excited to have accepted the invitation to join the board of the Scottish Jazz Federation. Although I haven’t been based in Scotland for the last 5 years, it is the jazz scene I grew up in and I try to get back and gig as much as I can. I’m delighted to join the board and be involved in the organisation.

Jazz North

There are a number of events and plan in development with Jazz North. We’ll be running a number of How Can We Get More Gigs? events following the success of Leeds and Newcastle earlier in the year. We’re also working on an event to bring together the many musician-promoters living in the North. More news on this very soon!

Apollo News

Apollo Collaboration – October 12th

We’re happy to announce the first Apollo Collaboration, taking place at HEART in Leeds on October 12th. The Collaboration series will invite musicians from across the UK to come together and work with new musicians, providing a performance platform to showcase original material. For our first event, we’re excited to have pianist David Austin-Grey from Birmingham, and guitarist Stuart McCallum from Manchester coming together with two Leeds-based musicians – Steve Hanley (drums) and Tom Riviere (bass). The gig will include solos sets from David and Stuart, plus a quartet set featuring original material from all four band members. For more information and tickets, see the HEART website.

Apollo US

Forming connections between the US and UK jazz scenes has always been a vision of Apollo, and following the support from Musicians Benevolent Fund’s Emerging Excellence Award, we’re delighted that there are now two US groups scheduled to tour the UK through Apollo. More details will be announced shortly, but the tours are due to take place in June 2014 and July 2014. Stay tuned!

New jazz night in Birmingham

Apollo promoter David Austin Grey has announced that he will be involved in running a new jazz night at The Church Inn (in the Jewellery Quarter) called The Big Easy. They will host gigs every Thursday from 9-12pm, starting on September 19th. For more information, visit The Big Easy (at Church Inn).

Apollo Branding

Finally – we’re getting started on our branding project with Apollo, so you will soon be seeing logos and branding appearing everywhere! More news soon.