A lot of people list the cd's they're on but when you're not familiar with a lot of the artists they've recorded with I don't find that approach especially helpful. So I've picked a few of the 60 or so commercially-available cd's I'm on and said why they're significant for me. There really is something for everyone ! Every style of jazz plus rock, pop, blues, funk, fusion, easy listening, folk, classical (still being mixed and mastered as of late 2020), big band (still being edited as of late 2020) - you name it. Here's a sample.
Partikel "Anniversary Song" - To mark a decade of the band's existence (from July 2009 with the current line-up of Duncan Eagles, Max Luthert and I), Partikel planned an "anniversary" album to be recorded in late March of 2020 at Studiowz in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Unfortunately, Covid-19 got in the way and we finally recorded in August 2021. One positive about the delay is that I was able to work on and incorporate lots of ideas I had time to research due to the Covid lockdowns, such as the "nested tuplets" at the beginning of "Golden Bridge." Also I used various muffling effects on the drums to a large extent for the first time. This is our first release with German label Berthold Records.
STEFANOS TSOURELIS TRIO - THE WANDERER ( Bandcamp, recorded November 2017 - May 2019 in London and at Beeboss, Seaford, Sussex)
The follow-up to "Native Speaker" from 2016, Stefanos plays electric as well as acoustic guitar here and the oud. "A very superior product from a great band," according to jazzviews.net !
PARTIKEL + STRING QUARTET - STRING THEORY ( Whirlwind, recorded February and May 2014 at Real World Studios, Box, Wiltshire )
This seems to be most people's favourite of the 4 Partikel cd's so far. It was a revelation to discover that extraordinary pianist Benet McLean plays at least as extraordinarily on violin, and it was he who brought together cellist Matthew Sharp, violinist Dave LePage and Carmen Flores on viola. I played more hand percussion on this cd than on the others and particularly like the tracks "Shimmer" ( fast 5/8 ) and "Cover", which is one of the things I've recorded that I'm happiest with. ( It's loosely "Latin" but not specifically Cuban or Brazilian - influences vary according to the rhythmic direction of the melody as it progresses. ) Duncan Eagles' playing (and writing) is really exceptional on this cd.
PARTIKEL - COHESION ( Whirlwind , recorded May 2011 at Clown's Pocket, Bexley, Kent )
Apart from the interactivity and (hopefully) musicality of this sax/bass/drums trio, this album stands out for me because I came up with a lot of really challenging drum parts for the music on it. In fact saxophonist Duncan Eagles kindly wrote "The Blood of the Pharaoh" around some patterns I wanted to play, and I re-arranged a songo-based tune of Duncan's into 5/4 ("El Schmeckl"). I played a lot of left-foot clave with cowbell on this cd. On "The Optimist", the drum solo explores some sub-division ideas which I became aware of by watching an amateur video of Antonio Sanchez on YouTube, and through Jason Marsalis' debut cd. My biggest reservations about this cd are that the bass drum is too low in the mix and the producer decided to cut the intro before the advent of a Chilean folkloric pattern that I adapted from 6/8 into two different sub-divisions of 5/4 especially for this tune. But you can watch / hear it here.
PARTIKEL - PARTIKEL ( F-ire, recorded January 2010 at Clown's Pocket, Bexley, Kent)
This cd -the band's first- has a good vibe I think. We don't play like this anymore, so it's nice to have a record of how we did things back then. I'd only been in the band around 6 months. Max Luthert (bassist) played much less interactively than he does now. I had a lot of solos on this album, most of which I'd like to think I'd play better now, but I think there are some great moments from the band. I love the snare drum sound on "D to the G". Derek Nash kindly put up with me bothering him to try and preserve the dynamics in the drumming instead of compressing everything, but the sax and bass were compressed with the result that when I play quietly the other guys don't. Consequently we miss the band dynamics which add so much more interest to the music.
LADY SINGS THE BLUES - LAUGHING AT LIFE ( Big Bear Records, recorded live on July 10th 2015 at the Birmingham Library Theatre as part of the Birmingham Jazz Festival )
Jazz from the swing era is what got me interested in music and in playing the drums aged 11, so it was nice to play and record with some of the top British exponents of the jazz of the thirties and early forties, who in turn had worked with many of the Americans who were the creators and master practitioners of it. I first heard pianist Brian Dee and bassist Len Skeat on an LP with top trombonist Bill Watrous and drummer Martin Drew when I was about 15, and they'd also recorded with drummer Butch Miles ( of Count Basie's 1970's big band ) who was one of my early idols. The rest of the band is Val Wiseman (vocals), Digby Fairweather (cornet), Roy Williams (trombone) and Julian Marc Stringle ( tenor and clarinet).
Most people are familiar with the sad aspects of Billie Holiday's life and are unaware of the optimistic, more Dixieland-oriented early years of her recording career around which this show ( and therefore album ) was based.
ODETTE - A SHAKE OF THE HAND ( O-Stone Records, my parts recorded April 23rd 2016 ; album recorded mostly at Laurel Sound, Hertfordshire)
Gorgeous singing by Odette in great settings of her own songs produced by Phil Taylor ( musical director for Tony Hadley ). I'm privileged indeed to have added some percussion to the layers already tracked by Pete Lockett, Miles Bould and Lily Gonzalez. Geoff Gascoyne played the double bass. This is Odette's first cd ; I hope it won't be her last. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-shake-of-the-hand/id1163227184
SAM EAGLES - NEXT BEGINNING ( F-ire Presents, recorded June 2013 at Bexley, Kent )
One of the ways in which this cd stands out from others I've played on is that there are quite a few fast tunes and plenty of swing . Since Sam's biggest influences are Kenny Garrett and Logan Richardson there's plenty of scope for busy drumming and some nice vamps to solo over, plus a few mixed-meter challenges. This band ran out of gigs in late 2015 by which time the rhythm section was starting to achieve a chemistry. There are glimpses of that on this cd and bassist Ferg Ireland was the dominant creative force in the band. Vibist Ralph Wyld shines too.
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO AFRICAN BLUES ( "Lalumbe" recorded 17th July 2012 at Pioneer Music, Colchester, Essex )
It may seem incongruous that a track recorded by 3 English blokes in a studio in Colchester should make its way onto an African Blues compilation, but in fairness we were accompanying Senegalese singer Modou Toure for a cd called " The West African Blues Project" which was finally issued in its entirety in the summer of 2015.
MODOU TOURE AND RAMON GOOSE - THE WEST AFRICAN BLUES PROJECT ( Arc ; my drum tracks recorded 17th July 2012 at Pioneer Music, Colchester, Essex )
My favourite cd of more than 10 that I've recorded with Ramon. A pleasure to accompany Senegalese singer Modou Toure. This album received a four-star review from Downbeat Magazine which proclaimed it to be ''one of the most spellbinding of all blues and world music mergers.'' Alas, live success has not followed studio success due to complex and unfortunate factors.
OTHON - IMPERMANENCE (Cherry, recorded March 2010, Underhill Studios, London)
On this cd I got to accompany Marc Almond aswell as Camille O'Sullivan, Ernesto Tomasini and Othon himself. The music is hard to describe but comes somewhere between burlesque and classical.
MOFO IS DEAD - NUBILE ( TMFR, recorded November 2008, London )
I'd had the pleasure of depping with rock covers band "Big Dog" for a few months before singer/guitarist Paul Galagher decided he could take no more of London's weather and traffic and was going to move back home to Brisbane. Before leaving he wanted to record some of his own songs, and it was great for me to play on "The Pretty Ones" and "The Vulcanologist" (relatively subtle Bill Stewarty brush-fest).
MARCELO CORDOVA - VIAJES (No label, recorded September 2005, Santiago de Chile)
Having been in Marcelo's band in Paris, it was an amazing experience to go to Chile to record his debut cd with Chile's top fusionistas ( Emilio Garcia on guitar and keyboardist Lautaro Quevedo). I really like Marcelo's tunes and this cd even though lots of things went wrong leading up to it, we only had one day to record it and I'm a bit ropey having not been near a drum kit for most of the 4 weeks prior to the much-postponed recording. Massive thanks to Roberto Zamora, head of drums at the conservatory in Santiago, without whom the cd wouldn't have been made.
CLEMENTINE - SOLEIL ( Epic Records, recorded March 2003, Paris )
I'm only on 1 track ; it's a ballad and I'm barely audible, but I have a soft spot for this because it was my first cd on a "proper" label and to be released internationally (only in Japan, where Clementine apparently has an audience). Ben and Leo Sidran are on some of the other tracks but / and this cd is incredibly cheesy. Still, I like to think the track I'm on - "L'Ete '42" - is the least cheesy of them!
ROBIN ELLIOTT - GREEN GINGER WINE / NOWHERE IN PARTICULAR ( Textbook Records ; GGW recorded August 6th 2009 at Resident Studios,
Willesden. NIP recorded 22nd August 2010 at The Dugout, Stoke Newington. )
Robin's a folky singer-songwriter with a social conscience. Unfortunately his lyrics are hard to decipher from his delivery but this is the first recording I've made to have been released on vinyl ; GGW is on side A, NIP on Side B. Alas Rex who was the engineer on NIP committed suicide shortly thereafter, leaving most of the files in the ''rough mix'' stage in which they appear on the album as a testament to his untimely disappearance.
Most of the drumming on the album is very simple - ''playing for the song'' in the way that most people who use that phrase would intend it to be understood. In fact, ''Play like Ringo'' was the instruction for the song ''Lean Times''.
PARTIKEL - COUNTERACTION (Whirlwind Recordings : recorded May 2016 at Clown's Pocket, Bexley Heath)
The fourth Partikel cd, but the first to get negative as well as positive reviews. Bandleader Duncan Eagles went to town on the arrangements but violinist Benet McLean, having played with us for a year, unexpectedly quit during the recording, so an extra day was added a couple of weeks later and guitarist Ant Law drafted in to replace him.There are contributions also from cellist Matthew Sharp and some ambient electronic effects.
MARK CHERRIE - JOINING THE DOTS ( trio records, recorded at the University of Guildford, Surrey by Chris Kalcov on 10th April 2016 )
Mark plays steel pan,which gives a distinctive flavour to this cd with a few of his originals and jazz versions of some rock songs as well as tunes by Metheny, Shorter, Hancock, Stan Tracey and Miles' "Sippin' At Bells", with a solo added subsequently by guitarist Nigel Price. Singer Sumudu and Dave O'Higggins (again, recorded after the rest of the band) sound great and it was a privilege too to record with veteran bassist Mick Hutton and sparkling pianist John Donaldson, who I met at the studio.
CHENG BI : EARLY-BORN CRICKET ( HAYAUMARE NO SUZUMUSI ) ( Drums recorded at Rubix Studios, London on 25th April 2016 )
How do you measure success ? If you think of the success of an album as being the number of units sold and the amount of radio-play received, this is almost certainly the most successful cd on which I've played. ( Its only possible competitor is an album by another Chinese pop star, Diamond Zhang, but I don't know what the track I played on was called so have no means of checking what happened to it.) Cheng Bi has a very soft voice and spent time in Japan, where she discovered the poetry of Kaneko Misuzu which is here set to music. I was surprised to find that most of the music is reminiscent of 1960's easy-listening western pop. The most lavish thing about this cd is the sleeve and booklet - which really is a small, hard-back book. It's been produced as a beautiful thing to cherish, which makes buying a physical copy more appealing than simply downloading it. I was also surprised to discover, on hearing the cd, that the producer had just left the drums in the "rough mix" which had been transferred to him. So the drum sound isn't what it could be.
STEFANOS TSOURELIS - NATIVE SPEAKER ( No label, recorded at Oktopus Studios, Willesden, London, summer 2016 )
This trio existed for about 6 years. Stefanos (who's from Larissa in Greece) writes very varied tunes, each its own little universe.
There's a lot to chew on for bass and drums, particularly regarding odd time signatures. Since Stefanos played mostly oud and acoustic guitar in this trio, when we played live I mostly used brushes, rods and my hands, but with the separation afforded by the studio I was able to play with sticks. These aren't all perfect takes and in fact there are many edits between different takes that weren't recorded with click and are therefore not at the same speed. However if you can ignore the tempo variations, there's some good music here. On the band's second album ("The Wanderer") Stefanos played much more electric guitar and - whilst still not recorded with click - we were more careful to keep the tempo consistent from take to take in order to facilitate edits.
MATT CHANDLER - ASTROMETRICS ( 33 Records, recorded in Guildford, Surrey on August 17th 2016 )
It's always a blast to play Matt's groovy toons and in the organ trio format, here with the much-admir'd Ross Stanley.
DAVID BEEBEE QUARTET ( Recorded at Beeboss, Seaford, East Sussex in spring 2019 )
Great tunes in an ECM style by polymath David, with beautiful playing by Loose Tubes saxophonist Julian Nicholas, Polish bassist Jakub Cywinski and of course David himself. Available as a free download from Bandcamp.