As we come to the end of this strange year, it is good to look back on some of the positives of the year.
During the lockdown period early in the year we continued the programme of video recording at Sansom Studios, and over the year we have recorded a further five videos building on the success of the first video with Paul Dunmall, James Owston and Tymek Jozwiak recorded in October 2020. We recorded a new trio CollapseUncollapse led by Mark Sanders working with Chris Mapp and Andrew Woodhead, a second trio featuring Paul Dunmall, this one with Neil Charles and Mark Sanders, a jazz and spoken word project led by Lee Griffiths with Charlotte Keeffe, James Owston and Mark Sanders, a duo project with Sarah Farmer and Annie Mahtani and finally a Paul Dunmall Quartet with Steve Saunders, Dave Kane and Miles Levin. This final one has just been launched on the Fizzle YouTube channel. All six videos are still available on this channel and I will list the links at the end of this blog.
Interestingly, two of the sessions were so successful that two of the groups, CollapseUncollapse and the Paul Dunmall Quartet decided to make an further audio recording for issue on CD. They will be out in due course.
All these videos were filmed with high production values at Sansom Studios. At the beginning of the lockdown period many musicians put out self-produced recordings made at home often with relatively low production values, but it soon became apparent that viewers expect and will only access a high quality product. The move to recording in a studio or in a venue with professional sound and visuals rapidly became the norm.
There has been some controversy about the amount of video recordings that were launched during the various lockdown periods; some have argued that putting them out for free undervalues the work of the musicians, while others have argued that watching a recorded video can never match the quality of experience of listening to a live event. While the latter point is undoubtedly true, we are proud that we have provided work for musicians and the studio and its recording and filming staff, have paid the musicians and technicians good fees, and helped in the creation of some brilliant music that would not have been heard otherwise. We have received nearly £1000 in donations from the audiences; this has always been put towards setting up the next video.
Many promoters and venues have recorded videos or live sessions that they keep up online for a short period, or in some cases of live recordings take down as soon as the session has finished. We have kept all our videos up on the Fizzle Channel and have had nearly 4000 views. We intend to keep them there for an indefinite period as we are proud of them, and believe that audiences will continue to access them.
With the easing of the Covid regulations we were able to return to presenting live events. Since late May we have put on a total of 18 gigs, 7 at Centrala Space, 5 in the Hexagon Theatre at mac, 3 Paul Dunmall Invites sessions in the Eastside Jazz Club at Birmingham Conservatoire, 1 at The Gap in Moseley, 1 in the Main Theatre at mac, and 1 as a co-promotion with Andrew Woodhead, the Pendulums launch at St. Paul’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter.
All these concerts were highlights, and it has been noteworthy that attendances have been really good with something like a 100% increase in audience size with quite a few new attenders as well as the regulars. Our audiences are an interesting mix of people some of whom attend more mainstream jazz events, while others seem to be followers of either contemporary classical music, or experimental music of different genres. There has been some drop off recently as competition from other events has increased, and as people have become anxious about being in enclosed spaces with groups of other people.
Have we returned to the situation as it was before? I would suggest that there have been small but significant changes. We have run a much more local programme with many bands coming from Birmingham, and virtually the whole programme has been based on British bands. That this has been accompanied by an increase in audiences is interesting and encouraging, and it has been good to tap into the thriving experimental scenes in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester as well as London. Nonetheless, it was good to present a Dutch group, the excellent Under The Surface, last week at our final gig of the year, thus maintaining some links with the European scene.
We helped establish the Composers Collective, a project with the aim of enabling composers to develop new work in a workshop situation leading to a live performance. Three composers, Aaron Diaz, Georgia Denham and Anna Palmer were commisioned to write new pieces; these were developed over two days of workshop in August and then premiered at The Gap Cafe in Moseley. The concert was also filmed and this will be out in the New Year.
It is perhaps invidious to highlight particular concerts, but I would like to mention the opening concert after lockdown with a duo of Mark Sanders and Chris Sharkey, plus a quartet led by Bruce Coates; it was so good to be presenting live music again. Then I’ll mention the evening in the Hexagon Theatre at mac of duos and a trio with Xhosa Cole, Neil Charles and Mark Sanders, and the final concert with the Sarah Farmer/ Annie Mahtani Duo and the Dutch trio Under The Surface. The Paul Dunmall Invites series has also been a highlight with the opportunity for Paul to work with different improvisers, and to create some wonderfully exciting music.
A word of clarification: TDE Promotions and Fizzle work very closely together; Fizzle in Centrala and with Flatpack Film Festival; TDE Promotions in the Hexagon Theatre at mac and Eastside Jazz Club, Other projects such as The Composers Collective involve both. TDE are my initials (Tony Dudley-Evans)
List of Videos
Paul Dunmall, James Owston, Tymek Jozwiak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjbY7tTeH7k&t=13s
Paul Dunmall, Neil Charles, Mark Sanders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fdFuvs5QEU&t=3s
Lee Griffiths Phonome https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6X6hvEUrfM
Sarah Farmer Annie Mahtani Duo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YsZCVJ2Lis&t=15s
Paul Dunmall Steve Saunders Dave Kane Miles Levin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CpvCjR8tvs&t=3s