Jack Mac’s Jazz Journal – Funky Months and a Jazzy year

Hi All

It’s been quite a while and such an exciting year, so I wanted to keep you updated on my activities since graduating from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama last summer. Released an album, supported some good bands, been to the States, so lots to talk about!

TRIP TO USA

Last summer I visited my sister Nicky and her husband Curtis in Baltimore for a well-deserved holiday after successfully completing a demanding two years master’s degree! Prior to joining her though I spent several amazing but very tiring days in the New York, checking out the sights and sounds! I also got the opportunity to see the great Fred Hersch perform at the Greenwich Village Vanguard as well as the Stanley Cowell Quintet at the Lincoln Centre. Following this I went onto Baltimore, where I was lucky enough to get a ticket to a one and all-star line-up of NOLA bands.  The performance included the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Galactic and the man himself, Trombone Shorty!  This was quite The Gig!  In addition, I checked out downtown Philadelphia and also was invited to sit in on a gig in Washington DC. All in all, a great trip! Once again, I thank Nicky and Curtis for being such tremendous hosts, tour guides and chauffeurs!

JACK MAC’S FUNK PACK

The Funk Pack has had a busy year! Not only has it continued to perform regularly at various venues, I also had the pleasure of releasing The Funk Pack’s first Album ‘Swagger Mac’ back in October. I would like to thank everyone who was involved and contributed their time and effort to make it a reality! We’ve also had success in supporting two stellar groups; heavyweight Jazz-fusion pioneers the Headhunters, and New Orleans’s Brass tour de force Hot 8 Brass Band.  It was an honour and privilege to open for both groups. The future is looking very bright for the Funk Pack, with more festivals and gigs coming up over the upcoming summer, as well as more recording projects in the works!  We’ll be back at the Old Duke in Bristol as well as Porters in Cardiff during the remainder of the year.  There’ll also hopefully be repeats of previous events this year, for example the feature night with singer Sarah Meek, as well as the joint gig extravaganza with Bass12, Brassageddon!

ORGANISM AND JAZZ QUINTET

Two new projects started at the beginning of this year. Firstly, Organism, a jazz fusion quartet featuring myself on Sax, Guy Shotton on Hammond Organ, Kumar Chopra on Guitar and Alex Goodyear on Drums.  The group plays music influenced by artists such as Herbie Hancock, Kenny Burrell and Freddie Hubbard, with a heavy emphasis on groove. However, we are also looking at expanding the repertoire with some additional original material.  Organism has taken off with far more success than I had initially hoped for, with plenty of gigs in the diary as well as recordings being planned for the foreseeable future!

For my second new project I have started a monthly Sunday evening residency at Café Jazz in Cardiff city centre. This jazz quintet features myself and Daniel Newberry on saxes, Guy Shotton on piano, Ashley John Long on double bass and Alex Goodyear on drums.  The aim of this project is to give us all the opportunity to play jazz standards that we might not always get the chance to perform, either because of their style or level of complexity. These gigs have proved to be very popular, with regular attendance from an attentive audience who enjoy the spectacle of musicianship that is on display from a line up I am proud to perform alongside.

BASS12, THE BANDITS AND MORE

Having performed with Bass12 since it’s conception 5 year ago, it’s amazing how the band has changed and grown since then. The band possesses such a rich alumni roster and still going strong both in local venues, at events and also busking on the street! It was also a really lovely experience at the wedding of two dear friends of mine, Jack and Alice Lewis. The original Bass 12 line-up came back together for an impromptu performance to family and friends at this very joyous (and drunken) occasion! We also had a great time with the busking tour around the North of England last summer and also performing at the Red Arrows Fly Past in Cornwall during the Falmouth Festival. Hopefully a repeat of both events will be happening again later this year!

Moonshine Monday nights are still going hard and strong at one of my favourite cocktail bars in Cardiff, Lab22! If you’re ever in need of a good night out or simply don’t want the weekend to stop on a Sunday, come on down and you’ll be guaranteed a friendly environment with good people, drinks and live music! Recently, we had an extra special night where the Afro Cluster Sound system did a set and the place was on fire! We can hope for more of these nights in the future and it’s been a pleasure to call this placehome for the past 4 ½ years!

In addition to this, I have still been performing with an array of bands in various genres. For example, I had a great time playing with the Jiveoholics again at the Callander Jazz Festival in Scotland, as well as a performance with my Jazz Quintet at Malmesbury Abbey for the Music society there. I was also honoured to perform at the reunion gig in Weston-Super-Mare of the legendary Somerset Ska band, The Communicators. Hopefully I will perform again with both bands in the near future! I’ve also enjoyed playing with several function bands and the odd Sax DJ set here and there, which can be a very fun experience! This all goes to help expand my various music experiences.

FUTURE PLANS

Since graduating from the RWCMD, things have been on the up and up, if a bit stressful at times! I’m looking forward to all the new projects and events that will be coming up over the following months. This relates to both my performing as well as to my teaching.  I’m planning to do more collaborations with other musicians. I am also looking to organise some workshop events in order to introduce and promote live music for the younger audience. However, these ideas are still in the early stages. With more original music on the way, new recording projects, as well as several festivals to keep me busy over the Summer, there will be definitely be a lot of things to chat about come the next blog (when I get time to).