Posts from the ‘Guitars’ Category

Jazz is Life. NEW YEARS EVE 2018 …

 

A quiet NYE. Connecting with self and others. Lighting a candle. Breathing and reaching – out and in. In 2018, I resolve to be conscious of the work/life/play boundaries and to push forth but take good care of myself as well as others. To be happy and curious – to know when to take things fast or slow. To have good discernment regarding rhythm, pace, company and solo space. Both onstage and off. Whilst loving my city life I have a long-term dream to build a tree house and live in it. Yes, really.

Here’s some reasons why I am so excited to play at Toulouse Lautrec this January 20th. It’s 10 mins walk away from my house. Wonderful! It has 3 floors and 2 (white!) pianos  – for some reason I find this totally charming. Wooden floors and banisters – a winner, acoustically speaking. Great stage decor with midnight blue background curtain decorated with stars. Cool, affable and reliable management who really do their bit in terms of marketing, promo and communication – don’t you love this in-house flyer? And they know and love jazz, (especially new music) and jazz musicians. And they have a classy French themed food and vibe. I’m starting as I mean to go on! Let’s dream big in 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Click HERE to book: http://tlvenue.live/patton

Click HERE to read my recent interview with jazz author Debbie Burke


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Another New Year …

A massive thanks to all the forces that somehow kept me going in 2017 through ups and downs, feasts and famines. Still getting used to yet another re-location within this great city – but feeling more at home. It’s been a very busy year, what with joining, (and training hard with) a new LGBT martial arts club and at one point also going to three sets of dance classes – Vogue, Hip Hop and Kpop (at my age, can you believe it …) – I guess the theme has been movement and pushing to new limits of endurance and self-discipline. The ongoing aim of the Mexican Toltec shamanic practices that I also study, has been to evoke the hummingbird energy. The ability to do the impossible. To expand and keep on pushing through – with joy and curiosity.


 Not surprisingly, like many other artists in this current climate, I’m also involved to a degree in grassroots politics and civil rights issues, mostly LGBT and anti-racist, which feels like a priority, though the work I really admire and wish for the courage to engage with, is environmental and ecological work. ”Taking it to the street” seems non-optional with so much at stake these days. My best thing ever of 2016/17 was being able to stick up for a refugee friend in court and help win her case – and her right to life. Few personal successes this year came close to the immense honour of being part of such a meaningful process. Talk about getting things in perspective.


The year rolled on with regular gigs at my usual haunt – Camdens (multi-award winning) Green Note  and a wonderfully rock ‘n’ roll week in  August performing at Manchesters prestigious ‘Rebellion’ nightclub with the ‘Shit Lesbian Disco’ crew. Who are neither shit, nor a disco. They are an all-female and lesbian musical collective, (DJs, tech crew, session musicians) of truly awesome industry credentials. Great mates and connections to have made. September was lean and mean as is often the way, then the season changed again, with prodigious songwriting and guitar playing, university teaching, private students, gigs and enormous worries about the UKs ongoing cock-up with Europe. Not to mention our future with the USA. And finally, the shocking, wasteful Christmas suicide of one of my favourite Korean musicians. The gifted fall, filled with doubt and self-loathing, whilst those who only destroy, wake up feeling great about themselves.


The world is shaking up. The years don’t get easier. Nor does the music industry. I worry about the march of tech, ‘smart’ devices that require our stupidity and passivity and the lack of discernment between organic and artificial realities. In all my activities, I work steadily to strengthen the muscle of courage, which like all muscles, improves with use. I believe in understanding beyond borders, love and friendship, spirit and soul, intellect and art, self-education and reliance and music above all. Everyday. No matter what. To those sensitive ones out there, who create and live beauty but never think it’s enough, please don’t commit suicide. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes it’s alright to have a break or even a break down. All things change eventually. Let’s remember Bruce Lees example and try to ‘walk on’ and see something new.


Click HERE to read my recent interview with jazz author Debbie Burke

She writes a fantastic jazz blog and is the author of ”Glissando, a Story of Love, Lust and Jazz” – to be published in July 2018.

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 If you are in London (or even if not) come and see me and my talented band members – billed as the FAYE PATTON QUARTET – at  jazz club Toulouse Lautrec, Sat Jan 20th. Click here to book.

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 I’ll also be playing Camdens Green Note, (as a duo, myself plus drummer) on Sun Feb 11th. Click here to book.

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 Happy New Year and bring on 2018!


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Covers vs Originals … ?

Many of us start life as creative, professional musicians with an absolute aversion to playing anyone elses music ever at all. No way! We want to tell our own stories and have something original and unique to say that no-one else has. For others, it’s the opposite – not everyone is a natural at songwriting and composing and there is a fine career to be had just playing and interpreting what’s already been written.

I prioritise my own material 95% – confident to call myself in general terms a ‘jazz musician’ as the idiomatic jazz references in my work are unmistakable. Over the years I’ve found an increasingly interesting (and sometimes rocky) relationship between covers and original music and getting known for doing both.

Here’s my Top Ten (and somewhat random) Tips and crazy notions to navigate and have fun with the covers/originals balance.

  1. Never forget that what lies in your own brain, imagination and invention is your gift to the world. You have a duty to bring it forth. Original art is everything. You’ll know if you have something to say with your songs as they will write you – you won’t have a choice. Never block the flow, you will make yourself ill if you do. Trust that you have something to say and get out of the way of creation speaking through you!

  2. As a child, I was told off, (in a grudgingly admiring way) by my piano tutor for using our lessons to show her my own compositions. She wanted me to focus on the Purcell (yuk …) and Mozart (yawn …) that we had to study. In her head, this was clearly the concert pianist path. I was more interested in making up my own chord sequences, although I felt guilty for including a hooky progression from a current TV show.

  3.  It was at this point that she was more helpful and told me not to worry about little steals and derivations and that the famous composers quoted from each other all the time – both deliberately and unconsciously.

  4. One huge and obvious advantage of sticking to your own work is that the royalties and rights are yours. No need to negotiate or buy access or clear it with anyone before you record. If original work is your default process then you find yourself wanting to record a cover and then sell the resulting album, it can feel (and is) somewhat more complicated.

  5. An advantage of doing covers is that (for me) there is a blissful and much needed buffer zone of objectivity. What a relief to leave my own stories behind and put something less risky on the line! If the audience rejects it, (either the storyline or the melody) it’s so much less personal.

  6. Approaching and arranging  great popular standards can and will make you a better player and composer for your own stuff. Tackle John Coltranes ‘Giant Steps’ just for fun – it’s such a good theory lesson and can be treated and redone in endless ways. (A repertoire of classic covers also serves as ready teaching material.) Program your set so that you hit a new audience with 4 originals, then a really popular standard that shows off your skills but continues the theme. Like dominos, make sure they’re connected by something – subject matter/mood/tempo/key. If you can get your original songs mistaken for classics then this is a good thing and means you’re writing the standards of the future! I had a (not very pleasant but certainly interesting) post gig scenario once at the Isle of Wight jazz festival. A well known festival director accused me of plagiarising my own songs. He was drunk and out of order and quite aggressive. Horrible – but it was proof that my songs are strong!

  7. Unless the fee is really good, (weddings!) only choose covers that you genuinely love and will stand the test of time and endless repetition as part of your set. Be steadfast in refusing requests (to perform/arrange/prepare/record/deliver) popular songs that you honestly don’t like – it will erode your soul.

  8. Check out other musicians who’ve covered songs maybe more or less successfully than the original songwriter. What makes a great song? One that can be endlessly reinterpreted or one that is untouchable? I fell in love with Carmen McCraes version of ‘New York State of Mind’, then Oleta Adams version – long before I realised that Billy Joel wrote it. It’s a truly solid song, great melody, feel, structure and storytelling. Removed enough from the author that it can live an independent life. In my own set, I include a few K pop songs – which have been translated (into Japanese) for the (huge) Japanese market. One of these, ‘Juliette’ started off as ‘Deal With It’ released by ‘High School Musical’ singer, Corbin Bleu. Then K pop giants Seoul Media bought the rights and transformed it utterly for their top boy band ShinEE – but kept the melody and structure. (Geeks and enthusiasts, listen to the original HERE. The Korean cover/transformation HERE and the Japanese translation HERE.)

  9. Choose wisely – though if you fall on your face, that’s half the fun. I refuse to do Joni Mitchell covers, despite being asked. To ‘superfans’, she is an immortal (rightly so!) and only Joni can do Joni. Likewise Prince – if you attempt it, better do it right! When choosing a cover, have fun taking it as far away from its original incarnation as you can. Mess with the tempo and instrumentation. Strip everything back to the song. See if you can take an industrial metal number and redo it for acoustic jazz guitar. Check out Amy Winehouses version of The Beatles ‘All My Loving’ – which in my opinion is better than the original.

  10. In these days of social media and Youtube – well placed (and non copyright infringing) cover versions and treatments of other artists songs can really work in your favour by drawing fans into your world, your website, your mailing list. The next generation of music lovers is always growing up in waves, discovering the great artists for the first time – they may be led to your version first – or next – through search engines, key words and hash tags.

No one has covered my work to my knowledge. How would I feel … I think I would hate it! I want to be the unique legend that non-one else can do! (But one day I guess it might happen.)

 

Here’s a clip of me singing ‘Feeling Good’ (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newly) in Trafalgar Square, with my own pre-recorded piano arrangement. (I like this song so much, I later did a different version for guitar.)

Lastly, find out what you need to know to protect your work (copyright – there’s more than one way to do it) and tread respectfully and honestly around others. If your songs are out there, live, recorded or online – there are multiple royalty avenues that you can and should access. Be clear (onstage and everywhere else) about the intellectual ownership of your own work and seek advice before recording others.

 

Resources:

 

Musicians Union – Benefits, protection, legal advice, community.

 

BASCA – British Academy of Songwriters, composers and authors.

 

Performing Rights Society – Music copyright, royalties and licensing.

 


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