Archive for November, 2017

PELT blog #3

November 21, 2017

Let me take this opportunity to tell you a little about the great musicians & poets involved with the 2018 PELT concerts:

Gareth Lockrane –Flutes


Artist’s website:

Staffordshire born Lockrane is a flautist, composer/arranger/educator. He’s one of the most extraordinary musicians on the UK scene & he brings a magical aspect to my music with his virtuosic soloing & joyful ensemble work as well as having a great palette of sonic options as he plays the entire flute family, from bass to piccolo! Whilst a student at RAM, his band The Jazz System was a finalist in the 1997 Vienna Jazz Festival Grande Concours de Jazz & in 2000 he was a finalist in the Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition. In 2006 he enrolled on the prestigious MA course in film composition at the National Film &Television School, graduating with a commendation in 2008.

He’s since gone on to win major awards with ‘Grooveyard’ which he co-leads with saxophonist Alex Garnett. He leads his own septet, whose 1st album ‘No Messin’ won best album in the2010 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. He recently formed his own 18-piece big band playing exclusively his music, featuring some of London’s top musicians. As a sideman, he’s been involved in many diverse projects, most notably as a key member of the late Bheki Mseleku’s group. Named a Rising Star on Flute in the prestigious Downbeat US critics poll, he’s also a notable educator & was appointed Head of Jazz Studies in the junior dept at RAM.

‘…Lockrane’s flute work is exceptional, combining a relaxed fluidity on the one hand with an acute adventurousness on the other…’ Peter Quinn, Jazzwise

Phil Robson – Guitars & Electronics

Phil at Tampere- by Maarit kytöharju

Artist’s website:

Phil is a guitarist & composer, originally from Derby UK. As well as being my life partner (!!!), he has had the longest musical relationship with me, being involved with most of my projects from the beginning. He’s highly respected both for his skill and inventiveness as a jazz musician and across a wide breadth of musical styles. His writing marks him out as a true original. He has led bands featuring jazz legends David Liebman, Mark Turner, Billy Hart, James Genus many more as well as working as a sideman with Donny McCaslin, Maceo Parker, Charles Earland, Barbra Streisand, The BBC Big Band & a huge spectrum of internationally renowned musicians. He’s co-leader of the celebrated band ‘Partisans’ with saxophonist Julian Siegel. They won ‘Jazz CD of The Year’ at the 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and previously Phil won ‘Best Jazz Musician of The Year’ at the 2009 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. World acclaimed U.S. jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein writes, “Phil Robson is one the best guitar players in the world today. His musical ideas flow continually and with a seamless logic. He seems to be able to play anything that comes to his mind. His technique is flawless and is in service to his fertile imagination. One of my favourites and a source of inspiration! Don’t miss an opportunity to hear this modern giant!!”

Steve Hamilton – Piano, Keyboards & Laptop

Steve Hamilton

Artist’s website:

I played with Steve many years ago on a handful of occasions when we were both in Tim Garland’s Lammas. I’ve since followed his work carefully & knew that he’d be perfect for the tour as he has great ability to adapt between piano & keyboards, electronics etc & is a consummate musician. Originally from Aberdeen, he’s one of Europe’s most creative and experienced contemporary pianists, performing a multitude of music from the improvised to pop to film and session work. Steve grew up in a musical family and won a full scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After he moved to London where he became one of the most favoured pianists across the genres performing with legends such as Freddie Hubbard, Ray Charles, Joe Lovano, Gary Burton, Van Morrison, Pee Wee Ellis, Dennis Rollins and became a longstanding member of legendary drummer Bill Bruford’s internationally acclaimed group Earthworks. He has played on over 40 CDs including Kurt Elling’s 2015 ‘Passion World’ album, and recently joined the legendary drummer Billy Cobham’s band and has been touring with Billy throughout Europe.

Kate Shortt – Cello, Backing Vocals & Deaf Signing

Kate Shortt

Artist’s website:

Kate is a Cellist/Pianist/Singer/Songwriter & Comedian! Having been involved with several of my previous projects incl ‘Byzantium’ she brings a fantastic presence both as an extremely versatile soloist & ensemble member not to mention keeping us all smiling on the road. She trained at the GSMD in cello and as a 2nd study singer & performs in various genres i.e jazz, contemporary, classical and free improv. A member of the Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra she’s toured/recorded with various artists incl contemporary composer Jocelyn Pook, Portuegese fado singer Claudia Aurora and Austrian contemporary composer Norbert Zehm’s group Line 3. Zehm composed a concerto especially for her & the Swarowski Wind Band, ‘Towards The Wind’, utilising her improvisation & vocal skills. Theatre work includes onstage cellist for the award winning West End play ‘Charles the Third’. She also works as part of Last Amendment, a spoken word and improvised music collective led by Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine. In the pop world she’s devised and recorded arrangements for Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac & collaborated with Gary Kemp and Simon Le Bon.

Kate also performs her own one woman comedy show! She combines with world cellist Shirley Smart as ‘Shortt and Smart!’ recently touring in and around England. Kate is a level 3 signer using BSL and provides music workshops in a deaf school. She’s often signed ‘Peter and the Wolf’ with the Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra, most recently with composer Thomas Ades narrating.

‘..A remarkable cellist ..’ The Guardian

Richard Jones – Violin

Richard Jones

Artist’s website:

Richard became part of my musical world for the 1st time on the PELT recording where I was very impressed by his natural musicality & instant ability to interpret my music. He is a dynamic, exciting young British musician who strives to forge and unearth musical collaborations between a wide range of musical contexts. Since completing his Masters studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he has immersed himself in the London music scene and has found a seat within a plethora of different bands. His influences as a musician are ever evolving as he continues to play, though improvised music remains at his core. Far removing the violin from the orchestral setting, he delves into rock, folk, world music and jazz to find his sounds. Already,

Richard has had the pleasure of working with a host of renowned musicians, including: Nicolas Meier, Audrey Riley, Robert Mitchel, Alex Hutton and was a member of the alternative rock band Kill The Kid. Whilst working within such a rich tapestry of music, Richard has written many of his own tunes which he is intending to bring to life this later year leading his own project.

‘A Fiddle player who manages to make his instrument sound sexy’. NME

Dave Whitford – Double & Electric Basses

Dave Whitford 2

Artist’s website:

Dave has worked with me & Phil for many years & as well as being like family is a crucial element in the band as he totally understands my musical ideas & aesthetic concept & can translate this to his instrument immediately. Born and raised in Falmouth, Dave held the bass chair in the award-winning Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra throughout his teens. He moved to London where he obtained a first class degree from Middlesex University on the jazz course and quickly established himself as an outstanding double bass player on city’s contemporary music scene. He received a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music’s Jazz postgraduate diploma from which he graduated with a distinction. He also received the Paul Hamlyn foundation award which enabled him to tour and record with collective quartet Neverland. His distinctive sound, solid groove and exceptional musicality have made him an in demand player with a diverse range of musicians. He has worked and recorded with top artists including Steve Lacy, Marc Copland, John Taylor, Bill Frisell, Evan Parker, Bobby Wellins, Dave Liebman, The NDR Big Band, Christine Jensen, The BBC Big Band, Mike Gibbs, Jack Bruce, Evan Parker, Kirk Lightsey, Ed Thigpen, Billy Hart, Nikki Isles, Chris Cheek, Josh Roseman, Maceo Parker, Liam Noble and Byron Wallen.

‘A highly competent player with formidable technical abilities. Whitford’s playing never fails to impress.’

Simon Lea – Role in activity: Drums

Simon Lea

Artist’s website:

Simon was the drummer for both my earlier ‘Romance & Revolution’ & ‘Secret Life of a Girl’ projects & was chosen again for this one because he is such a solid & positive element in any band, with a great groove & ability to play many styles. He is a British touring and recording drummer based in London. Simon studied Jazz at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. As well as working on the jazz scene Simon is a much sought-after drummer and MD on the folk, rock and pop scene. He is versatile and adaptable and his jazz sensibility along with his capacity to seamlessly shift styles and always nail the beat, make him the perfect drummer for PELT. He has toured and played with Seth Lakeman, JustJack, Ronnie Wood, Carleen Anderson, Saint Etienne, Dionne Warwick, The Herbaliser, Paloma Faith, Cara Dillon, The Webb Sisters, The James Taylor Quartet and many more.

Artist’s name: Paul Muldoon -Paul will be reading in Exeter Phoenix


Artist’s website:

Belfast born Paul Muldoon is the prime inspiration for this project as explained . Muldoon is a highly acclaimed & celebrated Irish poet. He has published over 30 collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2003. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature, the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry.

Paul was described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.” He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University, he is both the Howard G. B. Clark Professor in the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts.

He has also served as president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker. Roger Rosenblatt, writing in the New York Times Book Review, described Paul Muldoon as “one of the great poets of the past hundred years, who can be everything in his poems – word-playful, lyrical, hilarious, melancholy. And angry. Only Yeats before him could write with such measured fury.”

Eva Salzman – Eva will be reading at the London & Southampton gigs.

Divorce party - Sept. 2017

Artist’s website:

I met Eva in the 1990s since which time we’ve collaborated several times. Multi award winning poet Salzman was born in NYC and grew up in Brooklyn, where, from the age of 10 – 22, she was a dancer and later a choreographer. She was educated at Bennington College and Columbia University, moving to Britain in 1985. Her eclectic background has led to work in cross-arts projects with artists, dancers and singers. Her teaching work has included projects in London’s East End & a residency at Springhill Prison as well as continuing work for the Poetry Society’s Poet in the City projects & codevising a Poetry course for the Open University. A professor at Goldsmiths University, she’s also co-editor with Amy Wack of forthcoming anthology Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English.

Eva’s first collection of poetry, The English Earthquake, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation & her second volume, Bargain With The Watchman, won a Special Commendation. Salzman’s celebrated poem “To the Enemy” was set for soprano and percussion ensemble by Australian composer Katia Tiutiunnik; the composition received its world premiere performance on August 26, 2010, at the opening, “Visionaries” concert of the Soundstream Festival, Adelaide, South Australia. This world premiere was broadcast live by ABC Classic FM.

“Ms. Salzman’s restless imagination, acute satiric intelligence and formal panache mark her out as one of the finest poets around.” Michael Donaghy.




PELT blog #2

November 21, 2017

IMG_2662Hi everyone. I’m really getting more & more excited about the PELT 2018 UK, ACE tour as it draws nearer! Not too long until the first gig on Jan 25th. I thought I’d kick off my new blog by telling you a little about the background of PELT. As anyone who follows my work will know, I’m a huge fan of fine words & poetry. They provide me with lots of inspiration to write music & my own songs. Previous to recording PELT, my two albums before that were ‘Sailing To Byzantium’ (my musical settings of W.B. Yeats poems for which I was awarded a BASCA British Composers Award in 2012) followed by ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ which was a collection of new arrangements of Leonard Cohen songs (awarded a Herald Angel Award in 2013 for a live performance of it at the Edinburgh Fest). The British Composer award included a PRSF commission to write new music so I started thinking what this should be. As I’d enjoyed doing both these projects so much, I started to consider finding more great words to write music for. I was looking for something contemporary which would inspire a new sonic palette so Pulitzer prize winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon came straight to mind.

Actually, the seed of the idea for setting Paul Muldoon’s poems goes further back to when we were both invited to collaborate and perform a piece at the Kilkenny Arts Festival back in 2011. I had long admired Paul’s work and he was impressed by my settings of W. B Yeats. I had also set one of his poems, ‘Horses’ to music for my album ‘Romance & Revolution’ in 2004 so there was already a strong connection! When we discussed setting his poems, Paul gave me a copy of his collection ‘Paul Muldoon Poems 1968 – 1998’ and gave me carte blanche to choose the poems to work with. He also sent me new lyrics and as the project unfolded, the texts chosen ended up a being mix of poems and lyrics. This is reflected in the musical styles throughout. For example, the opening track ‘Zoological Positivism Blues’ uses a grungy, repetitive riff entwined with violin and cello pizzicato to capture the zany wit and rhyme of the lyrics. With the poem Wind and Tree, the melody line flows and winds over zen-like harmonies to convey the unseen. The short story style of the poem ‘The Big House’ reminded me of some the storytelling I’d heard in Beatles’ songs years ago and I feel this influence filtered through in my string arranging. The title track PELT is cinematic, dark and ethereal while the lyrics of San Simeon demanded punchy, indie-style guitar riffs with a tinge of Headhunters! All in all, I certainly got to a new musical vibe for me and I recorded the PELT album which was released in 2016. The project really took a while to fully materialise & this tour will see it fully realised as we have only performed the music live once before this, at the album launch at the Pizza Express, Dean St, Soho. I’m looking forward to expanding the music even further sonically & emotionally when we play the gigs & I have such wonderful musicians to do this with! I also have a fantastic team behind me with Anne from Right Tempo agency as project manager & Riot Squad publicity doing the PR and of course the financial support of the Arts Council of England.

I hope you’ll keep watching this space for future blogs. I’ll have more updates about the musicians, concerts & PELT related stuff, plus I’ll share more craic & my general thoughts about the world as we go along! You can also find the gig details here: so I hope you’ll join us at a venue near you!