The last time I posted on here – an embarrassingly large number of years ago – I made reference to the fact that I was in the early stages of my PhD research. Jumping forward to the present I’m now pleased – not to mention relieved – to say that it’s very nearly finished. Much of what I have been working on has been fairly complex theorisation of my work as a musician and so is unlikely to be of interest to everyone. Nevertheless, the main focus of the project is music, and the centrepiece of my research is a piece for solo saxophone that I have called Picasso(s). While an hour of solo saxophone music might not be to everyone’s taste, I am proud of the results and would love for people to hear it. Consequently, the main purpose of this post it to draw attention to the link below. By following it you can hear a studio recording of the piece, and if you really like it you can also order a physical copy (!):




However, while it is perfectly possible to listen to the music without any further contextualisation, I am also keen to draw attention to the fact that there is a conceptual basis to the project too. With this in mind, I am also including a short introduction to the theoretical aspect of the project. Once again this won’t be of interest to everyone, but I hope that contextualising the music might add an addition layer of interest to the listening experience. Additionally, I have included a link to the Hawkins recording that I used as the musical basis for my piece.

The following is a brief outline of my Picasso(s) project:


‘Suppose (I) were to make a copy of Las Meninas… Almost certainly I would be tempted to modify the light or arrange it differently…. Gradually I would create a painting…(that)…would not be Velazquez’s picture; it would be my Las Meninas.’ Pablo Picasso

In the second half of 1957, Pablo Picasso began a 6-month creative examination of a Velazquez masterpiece, which resulted in the series of 58 paintings that comprise his own Las Meninas. This collection is a seminal exploration of artistic originality, what Ortega called ‘the clash of the individual sensibility and already existing art.’

Picasso(s) uses the ‘clash’ concept to explore the thresholds between originality/imitation and composition/improvisation within my own creative practice. It combines elements of Picasso’s Las Meninas and Coleman Hawkins’ 1948 solo recording Picasso to form a pieces for solo saxophone that allows the performer to explore their own originality.


Hakwins’ Picasso:


Finally, as the music forms part of a PhD research project, there is inevitably a lot more that I have written about the development of Picasso(s) as well as the theory and history of originality in art and music. Consequently, I would encourage anyone who’d like to know more about it to get in touch directly with me and I’d be happy to expand in moe detail!



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Some questions

1 – Would you describe yourself as a jazz musician? If yes, please qualify. If no, how would you describe your relationship with jazz?

2 – What motivated you to become involved with jazz?

3 – Are you involved in forms of musical activity that you consider as ‘non-jazz’? And, if so, how does this impact on your involvement with jazz?

4 – Does your involvement with jazz engender any feelings of responsibility?

5 – To what extent do you consider your involvement with jazz to be a choice?

6 – Are there non-musical factors that influence the way you are involved with jazz?

7 – Other thoughts/comments

Please reply to mikefletcherjazz@gmail.com

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Forgive me Wordpress, for I have sinned…..

When I first signed up as a fledgling blogger, I had high hopes of making regular contributions to the every growing wealth of knowledge and opinion on the internet. However, the evident lack of posts reveals that this hasn’t quite been the case, which is something that has preyed on my mind to a certain extent. Although I am under no illusions that my current status as a lapsed blogger is depriving the world of valuable wisdom, I do feel that by neglecting this blog I am revealing my inherent tendency to laziness and procrastination. While I might once have argued that my failure to update this site is of little consequence, I am now starting to realise this might be a bit of a naive perspective.

As a musician, I have something of a public profile – although, as I am primarily active in the fields of jazz and improvised music, this profile is, at best, quite ‘niche’. Nevertheless, by virtue of my musical activity, I have been the subject of a certain number of interviews over the course of the last six months or so. In addition to doing wonders for my ego, having journalists taking an interest in me and my work has the inevitable consequence of being subjected to the ubiquitous Google search. Consequently, on more than one occasion recently, I have been presented with quotes drawn from comments I made on extremely remote parts of the internet. Therefore, I have decided to give any future interviewers a bit more fodder, which will hopefully draw attention away from some of my more unguarded comments.

Now, I realise that one could argue that this fact too is of little consequence – and I admit there is a part of me that would be inclined to agree – but, despite this, I have now decided to take a more responsible, motivated attitude to my online presence. Of course, this is, at least in part, a cynical ploy to accumulate ‘likes’, ‘followers’ and all the other virtual trappings of a successful career as a 21st century ‘artist’. However, I am also beginning to see the value of the internet beyond a cheap and simple marketing tool.

In recent times, I have augmented my performance activity with my first forays into the world of academia. In September of last year I began my PhD studies in composition in Birmingham, and am currently working on a chapter that will constitute my first published work when it is included in a forthcoming collection of academic articles about jazz. As a result of this I am spending a fair amount of time reading and writing, some of which is beginning to bear some quite interesting fruit. Therefore, in addition to sporadic uploads of Youtube vids and gig reviews, I am now planning to use this blog as a type of public sounding-board/forum for some more philosophical ideas about music, art and creativity.

I have spent a good month or two thinking of how to get the blog-ball rolling again, so hopefully this visit to the virtual confessional will leave my conscience clear to produce some posts of more substance. I do hope so…..

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I’m pleased to introduce my new trio album Vuelta on Stoney Lane Records. This is an enterprise set up by the tireless Sam Slater and aims to promote new music in Birmingham, and I have the not inconsiderable honour of being the first official release.


Peter Bacon has outlined what you can expect to hear here, and below is a track for nothing.

You can get hold of the album via any one of the myriad retail outlets virtual and physical.

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Tour diary 1

The best way to keep the cold out is to keep moving. So, very much keeping in this spirit, there has been plenty going on this winter!

The ECHO tour is picking up momentum and we now have 3 concerts under our belts. Back in November we got the ball rolling at the Milton Court Hall, part of the Barbican complex in London. Fortune saw to it that the gig fell right in the middle of the London Jazz Festival, although this might have been something of a mixed blessing. We three are all fairly regular contributors to the capital’s jazz scene so we don’t provide much in the way of a novelty factor and there were several other gigs that night. That said, an audience of 80+  definitely set the tone for the gigs to come.

The following week we were in Baden-Baden. What this little town lacks in watering holes it certainly makes up for in jazz enthusiasts! The gig was in the Festspielhaus, a converted railway station that now functions as a concert venue and educational facility. The ‘music dungeon’ here was filled with odd instruments and interactive musical games. It took some considerable effort to drag ourselves away in time for the gig!

The 'bass-tronome' in Baden-Baden

The ‘bass-tronome’ in Baden-Baden

This performance was the first that featured a pre-concert interview/talk. This is something that is common in classical concerts but that doesn’t often occur in a jazz setting. I am a big fan of this setup and think the chance to verbally introduce myself and my music is a great way of creating more of an engagement with the audience. Certainly the feedback was very positive so I’ll be trying to do this style of talk whenever possible.

We then had to negotiate Christmas before the first gig of the year, a non-ECHO date in the Con Cellar Bar in Camden, London. This must be one of the very best venues in the UK to play, a typical downstairs jazz club with one of the friendliest, most knowledgeable audiences going. I’d highly recommend getting down to one of the monthly sessions if at all possible.

Then was Hamburg. I had never been but had been told many positive things so was particularly looking forward to it. We arrived a day before the concert to do a workshop with some local student bands. All of the students were great, but special mention must go to the 11-year old trumpet and piano duo. I have to admit to being completely knocked out by the feeling these two had!

The concert itself took place in the Laeiszhalle, one of the best acoustics I’ve ever played in. We were lucky enough to have some friends in for this one so the atmosphere was very special. As promised, I have been composing pieces inspired by all of the cities we visit. Below is a video of ‘London’ as performed in Hamburg.

The last January gig was a double-header with Jeff’s own band at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham and, it being my hometown there was many a friendly face. Of course the support this gives is always great, but I also think that an audience that is familiar with your work is a good barometer too. People who have heard me play regularly will know when I’m up to scratch and making good music. This certainly helps to keep me focussed as a musician, both in terms of giving a good performance on the night and of long-term creative development. Two such audience members are also writers, and you can read their thoughts here and here.

Next up is a mini-tour of Andalucía before the ECHO Barcelona gig. Watch this space…..


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On The Road

About 18 months ago I was informed that I had been selected by Symphony Hall Birmingham to participate in the 2014/15 ECHO Rising Stars programme. This would involve a tour of several extremely prestigious concert venues across Europe with a band of my choice. At the time I was naturally pretty chuffed to have been given this opportunity but, what with it being more than a year in the future, I filed it away under ‘things that are happening so far in the future that they aren’t worth getting unduly excited about’, on the same list as ‘buy first Ferrari’ (admittedly higher up on the list, but the same list nevertheless).

Anyway, time has been passing at its usual rapid rate, 2014 is almost over and the first date of the tour has moved from the original list to ‘its happening today so better recalibrate the levels of anticipation’.

When I was thinking about this tour and what it could involve my thoughts turned to this somewhat neglected blog. I have decided that a string of gigs in various far flung auditoria would be just what I needed to awaken my inner Clark Kent. This being the case I have set myself the task of writing a post about each of the gigs, the first of which you are reading now.

Part of the promises I have made to myself – and by way of this post the world as a whole (feel free to hold me to it) – is to write a new piece of music in each of the cities we visit on the tour. The plan as it stands now is that these will emerge at each subsequent gig, so by the time we get to Birmingham Town Hall in May we’ll have a whole new set of music. Let’s see how that works out……

Turning back to todays antics the Mike Fletcher Trio will be appearing at Milton Court Hall in the Barbican at 19.30. To commemorate the occasion we have specially minted audio replicas of the band that come in a beautiful presentation case with artwork courtesy of Jethro Brice. These can be acquired in exchange for a specially minted picture of Charles Darwin.

Hopefully we’ll see some of you there.

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I recently was looking ahead in my diary to see what lies in store next month and was pleasantly surprised to find that I have a few choice gigs coming up soon. So where better place to share the news?

The celebration of all things jazz the is Cheltenham Jazz Festival is almost upon us once again and on the 3rd I have the pleasure of joining the Paul Dunmall Sextet for another performance of ‘Life in Four Parts.’

The week starting 5th of May sees the world premier live performance of my new trio with Olie Brice on bass and Jeff Williams on drums. This has been a project a long time in the making so it’s great to finally get it up and running. We play The Oxford in Kentish Town, London on Monday 5th and The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, Birmingham on Tuesday 6th.

Then on 8th I’m delighted to be reunited with the European Jazz Orchestra for a one off gig in Ankara, Turkey. We’ll once again be playing the music of Ann-Sofi Søderqvist and, if last autumn’s tour is anything to go by, it’s going to be fantastic.


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