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Thursday, 5 January 2012

Farewell 2011


I did lots of travelling in 2011, and it all started with a trip to Swansea Jazzland in mid January.  It was a fantastic way to start the year, and great to visit Swansea, where some of my family were originally from, and still live.  I wrote about it at the time and you can read the article here:


At Seven Jazz.  Photo by Tom Swire
As a teacher it's difficult to get work around the UK in term time, so during February half term I managed to cram 8 gigs into the week, flitting between Manchester and Yorkshire.  From supporting Denis Rollins at the Scarborough Arts Festival, playing two gigs with Manchester maestro Jeremy Sassoon, to my first booking at Manchester's Club 43, to making a second appearance at Seven Jazz, to travelling home from Leeds overnight in order to teach at 11 the next morning, it certainly was eventful!

For a more detailed and wittier round-up, here's my original article:

The Sector7 singers at our launch gig.

My proudest moment in March was the launch of my group Sector7.  We had a fantastic launch gig at the 606 Club, and since then have played at the London Jazz Festival, Pizza Express Dean Street, toured to Lancaster, and have plans in 2012 for a tour to Germany.  Have a look at our website to keep up to date:, or join us on facebook:

In the studio - Darren top left,
Rick bottom left,
Derek's empty chair top right,
Me and Dave O'Higgins bottom right.

Also in March, I recorded my second album.  As an indicator for how long things take in the process of making a CD, I finally finished the vocals and production in August, got a physical copy in my hand in September, and will be launching it in February!


Once again I travelled to Lithuania in April.  This was to perform at the 2011 vocal competition which I won in 2010.  Read my account of it here:
I had a great time.

There were posters of me everywhere!


Travelling again in May.  This time to:

BBC Radio Kent with Sector7...

...Abergavenny with the Dolphin Quintet  
(Click on the image to purchase this live charity CD)

...Wakefield Jazz Club with Dave O'Higgins

...Swindon for a charity event

... And to Bradford Jazz Club, where I got perhaps my favourite review ever!  It's on their website - scroll down to about the 6th paragraph down and there I am.


June started with glorious sun in Nice (holiday - not singing unfortunately), then turned into the wettest month I can remember - or maybe my memory is influenced by the fact that I had three outdoor gigs which were an utter washout.  I also travelled up to Menai Bridge for a gig at the North Wales Jazz Society.

The Menai Bridge.

Catching the rain in Regent's Park
- The Taste of London Festival


In July I continued my experience in jazz singing competitions.  I was invited to the semi-final at Montreux Jazz Festival vocal competition.  I didn't win anything, but got to meet Quincy Jones, and managed to get this amazing quote from him: "You reminded me of Billie Holiday."  Sadly, he was referring to the flowers in my hair rather than anything else, but still - he said it!

Quincy Jones and me.

Not much to report in August, as I was scared out of London by the riots.  But I had a lovely weekend in South Wales playing some jazz and pop with a local band.


My album was finally delivered, just in time to start jetting off around the country to promote it.  There were so many gigs and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them!  Pontypool, Hereford, Ilminster, Aylesbury, Cardiff, Porthcawl and Didcot.

Read the reports here:
Ilminster and Aylesbury
Cardiff, Porthcawl and Didcot

Sector7 performing at the London Jazz Festival 2011
October and November

In October and November, we continued the tour, going North to Newcastle, East to Norwich, West to Abergavenny and South to Jersey.

Pictures by Dave Ohm
I probably spent about 6 hours documenting my trips!  There are too many to link to here, but they're all on my home page so all you need to do is scroll down from here and you'll find the summaries for the entire tour.

November was also the month of the London Jazz Festival, and Sector7 were invited to be one of only four bands performing at the festival venue The Green Man.  Drummer Dave Ohm took some pictures (not from the band stand - he was in the audience!)


And finally, to finish off the year, my big band was invited back to Ruislip Manor.  We've been there 4 times now in total, and should be there again in 2012.  I'm holding out for another December gig, as I'm developing quite a collection of Christmas tunes.

Here's the Ruislip Manor website, where you can find a review of the band:

So that's my round-up of 2011.  Roll on 2012!