Being a musician in the COVID-19 era

As so many commentators have said, what strange times we are living in!

The social distancing mantra has become a part of us, and interactions with people now has an awkwardness; we are wary and keeping our distance. For musicians the lockdown has meant an almost immediate end to all work – no concerts, gigs in clubs, recording sessions, teaching.

So to keep a connection with our musical friends, to challenge ourselves with a new skill, and to keep the performance of music in people’s consciousness, some musicians have been doing online performances, or putting together a virtual band. I’ve been fortunate to to be a part of one of these, with Andrew Robertson. He did the writing, mixing and video editing! You can check out his Big Band @ Home on YouTube: Giant Salsa Steps and I Thought About You

While this has been fun, and the result is very good, it is nothing like the experience you have when you hear a band live, so I look forward to when that can happen again!

One thing that hasn’t changed for me during the lockdown is the process of writing music – it’s a solitary activity that I do (usually) at home. I’m currently working on a saxophone quartet and look forward to completing it fairly soon.

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Behind the scenes

A recently produced recording for Rob E. Thomas, featuring 6 big band tracks and 7 jazz combo tracks. Some behind the scenes video from the recording studio. Stay tuned for the release!

I recently finished producing an album for Rob E. Thomas, a veteran of the Aussie music and musical theatre scene. Rob picked an excellent mix of standards, show songs and pop songs. We recorded at 301 with a stellar band: Dave MacRae, Bret Hirst, Jim Pennell, Andrew Gander and Andrew Wilkie in the rhythm section. Six of the tracks were big band, and in the brass and saxophones we had Nick Bowd, Bob Coasin, Nigel Crocker, Angus Gomm, Dane Laboyrie, Aaron Michael, Tim Oram, Dave Panichi, Ralph Pyl, Mark Taylor, Craig Walters and Ed Wilson. We also added a string quartet (Michele O’Young, Fiona Zeigler, Jacqui Cronin and Rachel Valentine) and bassoonist Jennie McLachlan for two of the songs. Everyone played wonderfully, expertly captured by the recording and mixing engineer Brent Clark. I look forward to it being released after all this work! We have put together a video “An Album in the Making” to capture some of the sessions in the studio.