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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Fun

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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Trio

One of the things I’ve been getting most excited about recently is playing trio with two of my favourite musicians and people, namely Olie Brice and Jeff Williams. These guys seem to have an implicit understanding of how to make me and my music sound great so it’s with a healthy dose of impatience that I’m making plans for this band in 2014.

I was selected by the good people at THSH Birmingham to take part in the 2014/2015 ECHO Rising Stars touring project and, starting in November, will be playing with this formation in some of Europe’s nicest concert venues. Exact dates are still to be announced but I’ll be getting my German phrase book and Good Belgian Beers guide out soon among other things.

Before all this kicks off we have a three gigs at the start of May followed by an album recording. Find out about all that on the ‘Gigs’ page and whet your appetite with the video below.

 

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No news

I have recently been involved in a discussion revolving around how we self-sufficient jazz musicians make our work available to the amorphous mass of the populace that are variously know as ‘the readership’, ‘the audience’ or ‘the public’. In other words, you.

I consider myself to be a mid-level musician on the national scale. In my early 30s I have missed the ‘young lion’ boat but still have the best part of a decade to wait before I am entitled to think of myself as part of the establishment. During my career to date I have had some modest successes and as time passes I have more and more. I’m not signed to a record label, nor do I have an agent or any management staff. From time to time I am lucky enough to collaborate with musicians and organisations in exciting and inspiring projects. Basically I’m a relatively dedicated musician with no great pretensions to immortality who is, by and large, ploughing a lone furrow.

When I have some great news or a particularly exciting project in the pipeline I use this blog as a forum to disseminate the information. However, as a general rule, I don’t like to publish my day to day activities as I don’t think they are necessarily of any great interest Consequently when there is no news there is no new post. (Incidentally, I have quite a few things in the pipeline for 2014, each of which will be announced in their own time)

The reason I’m writing this post is to invite response. I would genuinely be interested in the number of readers I get, who they are and what their relationship to my music is. If you are a ‘fan’ (for want of a more comfortable term) then I’d love for you to get in touch. Let me know what it is about my music that you like, or hate, or that confuses you, or uplifts you. If you would like to hear more about what I had for breakfast or what mouthpiece I use then I’d be happy to oblige. Do you think I am personally making enough of an effort to ensure you know when and where I’m playing?

Likewise, if you are a fellow musician who is checking in to see what I’m up to musically these days, or even to make sure you’re still getting more gigs than I am (I refer you to the ‘Gigs’ page of this site), then let me know. I’m fascinated to know who you are.

If you want to keep updated with what I do then subscribe to my blog. I’m also adding links to all of my other social media outlets. In fact, I’ll even link this post to my Facebook and Twitter pages.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mike

https://twitter.com/MikeFletchMusic

http://www.youtube.com/user/mikefletchermusic

https://www.facebook.com/michael.fletcher.9615

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The radio

As a nice post script to October’s European Jazz Orchestra tour I was invited to pop in to see Claire Martin and do a little interview about my experiences of the EJO project and talk a bit about my music in general. The results are going to be broadcast this afternoon on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Jazz Line-up’ along with a recording of the final gig of the tour.

For some pleasant Saturday afternoon jazz why not pop along to have a listen: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006tnmw

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ECHO

After a few months of keeping this on the QT I am pleased to officially announce (well, write it on a blog) that I have been nominated as an ECHO Rising Star for the 2014/2015 season. There are many more details about exactly what this entails on the link below but the short version is that I get to take one of my projects on a tour of European concert halls next year. Which was nice…..

I’m not at liberty to disclose the dates and locations of the gigs because they are still coming in, but for now if you live in Germany, Portugal, Hungary or the UK you might not have to travel too far……

I have a few ideas for the tour, taking in local musicians from some of the cities we’ll be visiting, but the main core of the band will be a trio of myself, Olie Brice on bass and Jeff Williams on drums.

Needless to say I’m very excited, and also extremely grateful to THSH for nominating me in the first place. Here’s a link to the official announcement plus some more info about the project :

http://www.thsh.co.uk/news/press-releases/rising-birmingham-music-star-set-for-european-tour/

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