Que pasa

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It’s September already which means the tour kicks off in only a few weeks! It’s come around so fast but I’m really looking forward to finally getting to sing these tunes. But firstly, I am so, so chuffed to tell you that I have been awarded funding from Jazz Services as part of their touring support programme, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Touring is such a great experience, and it’s really essential when you’re trying to improve as a performer and get your music heard by larger audiences but it can be so costly, so Jazz Services are doing an amazing thing by enabling jazz musicians to get out on the road.

My promo material is here!! They’ll soon be en route to the various venues so if you see one, take a photo for me!

poster

 

The last month or so I’ve had some great wee gigs around London and beyond (including one in the stunning Leeds Castle below), and a much needed mini break (i.e. not long enough) in Italy. But next up for me is the Leytonstone Big Weekender, where I’ll be kicking things off this Sunday 7th September on the main stage at 1pm. Hope to see you there!

leeds castle

Have a great September, and don’t forget:

A Song for Horace Tour

13th October – The Pheasantry, London

18th October – The Fisher Theatre, Bungay, Suffolk

20th October – The Daffodil, Cheltenham

22nd October – Undercliffe Cricket Club, Bradford

23rd October – The Pavilion Cafe, Lytham St Annes

26th October – The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh

7th November – Chapel Arts Centre, Bath

9th November – The Brunswick, Brighton and Hove

xx

 

Doodlin

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I’ve been spending the last wee while scribbling notes everywhere as I’m learning more and more about Horace Silver. It’s been such a weird experience, the person I’ve been studying so intently has just suddenly passed away. If you didn’t know, Horace Silver died just a few weeks ago on June 18th, one of the last jazz legends of his time. (I love that photo of him in the Guardian obituary!). I’ve put one of his poems at the end as a small tribute.

Anyway, tomorrow at 9pm I’ll be on Urban Jazz Radio chatting with Alison Rycroft about Horace, my favourite tunes and my forthcoming tour, so it will be great to really chat about it properly and get my head out the books! You can tune in online if you fancy a wee listen.

I’ve also finished booking the tour (I think!) and will be announcing all the dates in the next few weeks. I’m sooooo looking forward to getting on the road with some amazing tunes and talented musicians!!

I’ve not been to too many gigs in the last while, sadly, (too much time spent watching Wimbledon!) but I did manage to catch Anita Wardell, Tina May and Cleveland Watkiss at The Pheasantry performing together, and individually, as part of Anita’s Songsuite festival. It was so much fun and I just love listening to all 3 of them scatting, they’re so talented.

On a more depressing note, the Arts Council of England has decided to cut ALL of Jazz Services funding, which is horrific, and I’m not really sure how they can justify it. What’s lovely to see is how so many people are rallying together to fight this, so hopefully the decision can be reversed. The link here gives many ways in which you can help and show your support.

Anyway, that’s all for now! I shall leave you with the view of one of my gigs last month in Canterbury and Horace’s “I Speak Music”.

xx

Canterbury

I Speak Music by Horace Silver

I speak music, the international language
I speak and people everywhere understand me
I speak and people listen
I speak and people dance
I speak and people sing
I speak and people pat their feet and clap their hands.
Occasionally I speak and people cry; but more often when I speak I bring joy, happiness and uplift
I speak music, the universal language.
I speak and the universe speaks to me
I speak and the universe speaks through me
I speak music, the personal language of my soul
I seek music that will change the blues within my soul to a rhapsody
I speak the music of my thought
I speak the music of my word
I speak the music of my deed
I speak the music of my soul, which is continually being composed and de-composed, arranged and re-arranged so that it’s melody, harmony, and rhythm may be in accord with all people and the universe.

Isn’t it a Lovely Day

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Bit of a cheesy title, I know, but it’s sunny again at last! Also, it’s a brilliant tune so what’s not to love? Anyway….

Since I last wrote I’ve been continuing to work on my winter tour, A Song for Horace, and am really excited about how it’s all coming together. I’ll be announcing all the dates and venues shortly, but so far we will be hitting Edinburgh, Bradford, Suffolk, Bath, Gloucester, Brighton and London. There are a few others in the pipeline so I shall of course keep you posted, and hope to see you at one (if not more!) of them. I’m still reading Horace’s autobiography, Let’s Get to the Nitty Gritty, and it’s absolutely brilliant, I highly recommend it.

Last week I was very honoured to be invited to Chris Hodgkins’ leaving do as he retired as Chairman of Jazz Services after 29 years. It was a fantastic night and a great send off for a man who has been instrumental in supporting, advising, encouraging and championing so many UK jazz musicians. You can read about all that he has done in this Jazz Services article. Jazz Services themselves are an incredible organisation, and always looking for support. You can become a friend for only £3 a month and you get so many great things from it, like free tickets, Jazz UK magazine, newsletters, and of course you’re helping to support the UK jazz scene. So there.

I also recently had a gig at a lovely venue in Stevenage called Gladleys Courtyard Brasserie. They had just extended the premises and reopened, and we were delighted to be the first of their live jazz nights there. It was a great gig, with Rob Barron on piano and Tim Thornton on bass, and the crowd were just fantastic. It was completely sold out and was just so much fun. I definitely recommend popping by if you are in the area. Here’s a wee photo from it:

Gladleys Jazz night May 2014

It’s strange to think it’s been just over a year since I released my album, ‘Fly”. I’ve just uploaded some video footage of our performance of Stardust from the launch gig at The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh. Hope you enjoy it! (There’s a short and long version depending on how much time you have…)

Ta ta for now

xx

The Baroness by Hannah Rothschild

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Although this book is not written about a jazz musician, it gives such an amazing insight into the live of jazz musicians in the 1940s and 1950s that it is just as much of a jazz biography as any of the others.

The book is about Pannonica de Koenigswarter (nee Rothschild), who was known as Nica to her family, and The Baroness to many of the jazz musicians in New York at the height of bebop. The book is written by her great niece Hannah Rothschild, so it is filled with many details of her personal life that could only have been known by those closest to her.

‘The Baroness’ introduces the reader to the history of the Rothschild family, detailing their rise from a small, incredibly poor Jewish family living in Frankfurt in the 18th century to becoming one of the wealthiest families in the world. The history of the Rothschilds is just astounding, and Hannah’s detailed stories about all the family members and their struggles is incredible. I had bought this book to learn more about the woman who had inspired so many jazz compositions, but found myself tearing through the pages to learn more about this fascinating family.

Born in 1913, Nica was raised into a highly privileged lifestyle, and could have had anything that money could buy, but she eventually abandoned that life, and her husband, to follow Thelonious Monk to New York and be his friend, supporting his blossoming career at every step. She also helped to support and fund the careers of many other jazz musicians such as Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins and Hank Mobley, and inspired such songs as Nica’s Dream, Pannonica, Bolivar Blues, Cats in my Belfry, Poor Butterfly, Little Butterfly and Thelonica, to name just a few.

The beauty of this book lies in the unpredictability of the story – as it continues to unfold you are more and more amazed at her life, her history and how she impacted the lives of jazz musicians in such a positive way. Therefore I don’t want to reveal too much more about it, but I really recommend reading it, as not only does it tell you about her life from the point of view of a close family member, it also gives you a rare, personal insight into the jazz scene at the time and the struggles that a lot of jazz musicians had to go through. It teaches you about the music, where it really came from and how it was composed – i believe this is really essential in order to get a true understanding and appreciation of bebop.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It cost me 1p from Amazon so definitely worth giving it a go!

Clearly shows signs of being read in hot weather!

With Billie by Julia Blackburn

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As I have recently become an avid reader of auto/biographies of jazz musicians and singers, I thought it would be nice to share them with you so you can have the opportunity to read them too. If you have read or are reading them I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

First on my list, which I finished reading just a couple of months ago, is With Billie by Julia Blackburn. This book is about one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, Billie Holiday. The book is written by Julia Blackburn, who took over the role of biographer after a young author Linda Kuehl, who was writing the biography at the time, took her own life and never completed it. The book is filled with tragedy from start to end, as Billie herself died at the young age of 44 due to cirrhosis of the liver after an incredibly hard life.

The book is largely made up of interviews of those who knew Billie personally, from those who lived with her and were part of her family life, to those who knew her from the bars and nightclubs. Her life was plagued by drug abuse, physical abuse and an incessant bad relationship with the law, but despite this, her love for music and performing was a constant driving force. There were also many great people in her life who tried to care for her as much as they possibly could.

It took me a little while to get into this book, but it does eventually captivate you and I definitely recommend reading it. If nothing else, it is a real, hard hitting education to life at that time, particularly for black jazz musicians.

Let me know what you think if you’ve read it!

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Doin’ the Thing

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Hello and happy belated Easter! I’ve actually been off getting married and spent a lovely couple of weeks in Thailand on honeymoon. I did fairly well by my own standards at switching off, but couldn’t quite give up the music! I went to a great little jam session in Chaing Mai at the North Gate Jazz Coop. Its a really small bar owned and run by local jazz musicians, and every Tuesday they have a very popular jam session. The place was packed and the customers spilled out into the streets. I was very kindly invited up for a little sing song, which was brilliant fun. North Gate Jazz Coop On our last night in Bangkok we went in search of some live jazz. There were a few different ones listed so we settled on a live quartet at the Hilton. Hmmm. It wasn’t jazz at all, and the place was dead so we then went on to the Mandarin Hotel where we were greeted by a fantastic jazz quartet, fronted by a brilliant singer called Ptah Brown . We hung out with her afterwards, and found out that she had sang with Art Blakey when she was 14! What a fantastic story. I also read a book that had been recommended to me shortly before I left called ‘The Baroness – the search for Nica, the rebellious Rothschild’. I enjoyed it sooooo much, it was a really fascinating insight in to her life. She was from the famous Rothschild family, one of the wealthiest families in the world, and gave it all up to support struggling jazz musicians in New York, most of all Thelonious Monk. There are so many jazz songs dedicated to her – Nica’s Dream, Pannonica, Little Butterfly, Tonica, Weehawken Mad Pad to name a few. It cost me 1p (weird) from Amazon so go buy it!

Clearly shows signs of being read in hot weather!

Clearly shows signs of being read in hot weather!

I’ve really gotten into reading autobiographies and biographies of jazz musicians and singers, and I wish I’d done it sooner. It helps tremendously to know about the background of this music and really gives me a deeper understanding of it. I’m now reading Horace Silver’s autobiography, which I’m loving, which leads me smoothly onto some gig news….

This winter I am taking to the road with my Horace Silver tribute show, A Song for Horace. Confirmed dates so far are October 18th at The Fisher Theatre in Suffolk, and November 7th at Chapel Arts in Bath. I’ll be announcing more dates shortly, but really hope to see you at one of them!

Well tata for now, and in the meantime I’ll see you over on Facebook. Also, I have a few little jazz gigs around London this month so check out the gigs page at http://www.louisedodds.com

Much love xx

Groovin High

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Happy New Year everyone!! I can’t believe we’re already well in to February, and I haven’t even said hello!

Actually, I’ve been mostly immersing myself in music, which has been a really great way to start the year. I’ve now started writing for my next album, which I am aiming to be comprised solely of my original material. I’ve been spending a lot of time working out exactly what sound I want and I think I’m just about there, which is really exciting. I’ve already got a few songs down so it’s going to be great to finally share them with you.

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February has been an amazing month for me for live music. Firstly, I have been joining London on Prince Watch and have managed to see him twice!! Seeing him perform and being part of all the excitement has been exhilarating. He’s such an incredible songwriter, musician and performer, and he has just been incredibly clever in stirring up a fever about his new album. I had always wanted to see him live so this has been a dream come true for me, and it’s also encouraged me in many ways to keep writing and creating. I have such respect for him.

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But it doesn’t stop there! I was also lucky enough to catch Avishai Cohen playing at Ronnie Scotts. It was a fabulous gig, very dark and brooding but I just love his compositions and it was nice to see something a little different for a change.

So back to the writing, and hope to have some samples soon. I’m also putting together a show to tour with – more info to come!

xx

Christmas playlist

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I love Christmas. In fact, I really, really love Christmas. I love the vibe it brings and the lights that are up in the streets, and of course the amazing songs! I’ve had quite a few gigs this December but none of which called for any Christmas songs, so I popped down to catch one of the carol services at Trafalgar Square last night. It made me think about my favourite Christmas numbers, so here is my ultimate Christmas jazz/swing song list (if it was all genres I would be here all day):

10. Louis Armstrong – Zat You Santa Claus?
A real over the top, jolly-tastic Christmas track. His unique voice lends itself so well to this number.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DvpgdGYmG4

9. Ella Fitzgerald What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
Ah Ella. This is such a beautiful rendition, perfect for the end of the night when you’re so full you can’t move and you’re falling asleep on the sofa.
http://www.amazon.com/What-Doing-Years-Album-Version/dp/B000W04QK8

8. Shake Hands With Santa Claus – Louis Prima
I challenge anyone to not feel happy when Louis Prima is on. Classic Prima, classic Christmas cheer.
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/shake-hands-santa-claus-remastered/id721112460

7. Jingle Bells – Duke Ellington
Massive fan of Duke Ellington, particularly his playing, and a massive fan of Christmas songs. What more is there to say?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVat6wp6Tj0

6. Santa Claus – Dave Brubeck
This is such a great version. So swinging and so chilled, I would have this on when I’m opening presents. Hopefully.
http://www.last.fm/music/Dave+Brubeck/_/Santa+Claus+Is+Coming+to+Town

5. Julie London – Warm December
Its always a real pleasure to listen to Julie singing, and her voice on this sounds like she could actually melt the sleet and snow. A real cosy song.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=573JiFpQ_PY

4. Oscar Peterson – I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Grab yourself a brandy for this , possibly post stuffing (yourself or the turkey). A really great number, with the perfect Christmas vibe. The whole album is great, in fact. Treat yourself.
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/an-oscar-peterson-christmas/id80650904

3. Sleigh Ride – Wynton Marsalis featuring Jon Hendricks
I’m such a huge fan of Jon Hendricks so to hear him in this context just warms the cockles of my heart. Comes complete with a Chrismtas scat. Really love this version, particularly the “Yoo Hoo” at 2min 12.
http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/wynton-marsalis/album/crescent-city-christmas-card/track/sleigh-ride—featuring-jon-hendricks

2. Deck the Halls – Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea
Such a happy version!! Definitely one for cooking Christmas dinner to.

1. The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
No contest. The perfect Christmas song hands down. Nat King Cole was such a wonderful vocalist and could give everyone a lesson in diction. This number is warm, comforting and happy. Everything Christmas should be.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jODKhUoFxzA‎

Have a great one everybody! Thank you for all your support this year and making it such a brilliant year for me. Here’s to 2014!
xx

My EFG London Jazz Festival 2013

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I had such a fantastic time at this year’s London Jazz Festival, so I thought I’d write a few lines and share my experience with you.

On 18th November, I was very honoured to take to the stage at The Pheasantry (Pizza Express Live) on Kings Road as part of the London Jazz Festival, with a ridiculously amazing band – John Pearce (piano), Luke Steele (double bass), Steve Brown  (drums) and Brandon Allen (tenor sax). We performed songs from my album Fly, and the audience was just brilliant – enthusiastic and supportive, some of whom had come from out of town which was very humbling.

The Pheasantry is a fantastic live music venue and really suits jazz. I was lucky enough to be sent some fabulous photos the next day from Leslie Owensby – check a few them out here:

Pheasantry 3On stage doing my thang

Pheasantry 2The guys doing their thang

Pheasantry 1The crowd being amazing (and doing their thang)

Such a brilliant night! I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. Big love.

On the Saturday, 23rd, I then spent the afternoon at the Southbank Centre, rehearsing with the wonderful Cleveland Watkiss as part of his flashmob choir!! Definitely a first for me. We spent a few hours going over different ideas, and then at 5.30pm we went downstairs to the main area, the Clore Ballroom.

CloreThe unsuspecting crowd…

After Tim Whitehead had finished his show, we started performing and took everyone by surprise. It was so funny seeing everyone’s reactions, and lots of people in the building joined in.

Two completely different events but a great way to spend a week as part of the London Jazz Festival. Roll on 2014!!

xxx

September Song

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Its getting awfy cold now, I feel like it’s time to hibernate. Its that time of year after the manic-ness of spring and summer, and just before things kick off again for Christmas and New Year so I’m trying to put this time to good use.

I have started writing again, and some of it has turned out sounding as though it has some folk influences to it, which is an avenue I’d actually like to explore more. Perhaps the next album will turn out that way?? I’ve also been laying down some piano/vocal recordings today which has been really enjoyable.

Next up for me is the biggy – headline slot at The Pheasantry as part of the London Jazz Festival with a ridiculously good band. Until then, you’ll find me behind the piano at Nakhon Thai!

TTFN

xx