As well as playing with John I have several other musical projects on the go with various musicians, mostly on the jazz scene, though for obvious reasons all performances are currently on hold.
Knife Angel is a sculpture by Alfie Bradley. I came across it completely by chance about a year ago, when it was still under construction at The British Ironworks Centre near Oswestry. I was so inspired by it, and the message behind it, that I found myself writing some music that became a four-movement composition for jazz sextet. The huge sculpture (26 ft high and weighing 10 tons) is made from amnesty knives that Alfie cleaned and blunted himself, and arose from the campaign ‘Save A Life, Surrender Your Knife’, aimed at raising awareness of knife crime in the UK. I was fascinated by the darkness of the subject, but also the fact that there was a positive message of hope. Some of the blades have been inscribed with names and messages by relatives of victims of knife crime; it is seen by them as an expression of remembrance of their lost loved ones. The massive sculpture sends a powerful message and is currently touring to various UK cities.
A recording of my composition is now available on CD – please see my website. Musicians are Faith Brackenbury (violin), Martin Speake (alto sax), Alex Maguire (piano), Rob Luft (guitar), Oli Hayhurst (bass), Will Glaser (drums).
The Knife Angel Project was performed live in the foyer of Birmingham Symphony Hall on Friday 3 February 2017, to a large and appreciative audience.
Photos show Faith and Alfie in front of the Knife Angel Sculpture, and the sextet recording the piece.
Alongside the Knife Angel project I have been working on something of an entirely different nature, called Birds’ Suite, which was inspired by reading The Conference of The Birds by twelfth-century Sufi poet Farid Ud-Din Attar.
This is a work in progress, but some of it can be heard here. Musicians are Faith Brackenbury (violin), Martin Speake (alto sax), Alex Maguire (piano), Calum Gourlay (bass) and Dave Storey (drums).
Wilfred & Susan: War & Love
Wilfred Owen’s poems and an interpretation of his mother’s perspective, with music composed by myself and played by the string trio of Faith (violin, vocals), Jane Griffiths (viola) and Barney Morse Brown (cello); and words by Leo Nitemynks who also read Owen’s poetry and letters. Premiered at Willow Gallery, Oswestry, on 27 October 2018.
I’ve been involved in composing and performing for a multi-media project called The Four Susans (click on the name for a link to Soundcloud) – a parody on Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons but much, much more than that. Challenging, eclectic and intriguing to performers and audience alike and written in haiku, verse and narrative, it’s a story of revenge and redemption, female empowerment, time shift between Vivaldi’s 1717 and 2017, and is anagrammatical, temperamental, elemental and geographical.
Free improvisation duo with Martin Speake. I play violin, viola and sing and Martin plays alto sax. Our CD Zephyr is due to be released soon. Some of the tracks are on my Soundcloud page.