Plugged and Unplugged

Brian sounds amazing on the sax.

Here’s a few pieces we recorded on Saturday with Brian playing Soprano & Tenor sax, and me on WX5 as Clarinet and Flugel Horn.

“Nobody Does it Better” from James Bond – The Spy Who Loved Me. Brian plays Soprano Sax and I’m playing WX5 as Clarinet.

“Diamonds are Forever” from the James Bond movie of the same name. Brian plays Soprano Sax while i play Flugel Horn on the Wx5.

“Blue and Sweatty” a blues improvisation with Brian on Tenor and me on the WX5 Clarinet.

The backing tracks for the Bond tracks are great to play along to. But the raw and real feeling of that last blues piece, with no backing track – I really enjoy that.

"My name is legion, for we are many"

Here’s a piece Brian and I did a couple of weeks ago as part of my lesson.

It’s “C Jam Blues” by Duke Ellington.

The Drums, Bass and Piano are on a backing track.

I’m playing the brass quartet at the start, plus the clarinet, trombone and trumpet, all on the WX5.

Brian’s playing guitar.

This is one of the reasons the WX5 is so much fun to play – there are so many different instruments available. the challenging part is that when you play a “trumpet” it’s important to think like a trumpet. When you play like a trombone, imagine you’re playing a trombone, and how you’d like it to sound. I have to adjust my playing technique depending on the type of instrument I’m trying to mimic, otherwise it doesnt sound convincing.

With this piece, although we in front of us the chord progression that Ellington used, we improvised all of what we played.

One thing Brian has taught me about improvisation is that it’s not about trying to play every riff and lick in your repertoire. It’s all about fitting in with your fellow players, and with the ideas that the composer originally had.

It’s real music, and it’s a lot of fun.

Warts and All (Live, Unrehearsed and Unedited)

One of the highlights of my week is my jazz music lessons with a fantastic musician named Brian Hayes.

Each week I bring my WX5 and he teaches me as he plays along on Guitar, Sax, Flute or Clarinet. I find it really enjoyable, and am continually amazed at his wonderful musicianship.

Late last year, Brian suggested we record our session. He played some tunes on his guitar, and got me to improvise on the WX5, playing whatever I wanted. I made lots of mistakes, but we decided to record it “as is”, and these songs are the result. We called the collection “Warts and All”.

Thinking of Lizzie

Elephant Blues

Cheeky Liquorice

Black Brassy Blues

Frightfully Flugel

Laid Back Fanfare

Morning Reed

Not Quite Danny


Sunset Blue

For each song, I chose a different voice on the VL-70m synthesizer – the challenge being to select the most appropriate voice, and to play it in such a way that my style suites it. I find brass, clarinet and flute voices fairly easy. Sax voices are difficult to do well.

If you can look beyond my mistakes in these songs, I hope you can get an idea of how much fun this is!

I love this music

I recently bought a book of Jazz Duets by Richard Jasinski.

A lot of them are pretty simple, but I really liked this piece:

The book doesn’t contain any backing track music, so I entered the chords into “Band in a Box”, and created my own backing track thru my secondary Yahama MU50R synthesizer.

The solo instrument is a “Pan Picolo” (number 57) voice from my VL70M synth that I played on my beloved Wx5.

I had a lot of fun playing it, and hope you like it 🙂

Emma and Mark

Congratulations, Emma and Mark on your wonderful wedding last Sunday.

It was an honour to be able to share in the ceremony by playing some songs
for you.

Here are recordings of some of those songs.

A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.

I Love You Just The Way You Are


Until The Real Thing Comes Along

Till There Was You

Petite Fleur

As Time Goes By



Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man

At Last

Prelude – Don’t Believe

Entry – Don’t Believe

When I Fall In Love

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

What A Wonderful World

Beyond The Sea

Just The Way You Look Tonight

You must remember this…

I love the song “As time goes by” by Herman Hupfeld.

Here’s my rendition of it on the Wx5.

A couple of months ago I upgraded my synthesizer to a VL-70m so I could get some more realistic voices, and this is the result.

The backing track is a lovely arrangement from Ameritz in the UK.

No pun intended, but as time goes by I find myself increasingly enjoying the slow, sensual, simple, beautiful melodies of previous eras.

They’re timeless.

This is just so much fun!

I wanted to share this with you, not because I think I’m great, but because I had so much fun making it.

Friends and family will know I’ve bought myself a Yamaha WX5 Wind Midi Controller for my 44th birthday. It looks like a clarinet, but it is more like a synthesizer keyboard that you play like a wind instrument. You can see a picture of it here.

I thought you might like an idea of what it sounds like, so I’ve uploaded some of my own recordings to give you an idea.

Some of them I just played from memory by ear because they’re tunes I love (Like the Dark Isle, The Parting Glass, and Basin Street Blues). Some of them are from a “Play along” music book I recently bought which has the backing tracks that you can play along to. For one of them (Beauty and the Beast) I took a midi of the the tune, removed the melody line, and dubbed my own melody line over the top. (I’ll promise to explain how to do this in my technical blog soon).

“Beauty and the Beast” is a very pretty melody. If you only listen to one of these tunes, I hope you listen to this one.

Anyway – here they are – the sounds of me having fun.

Piccolo voice:

The Dark Isle

The Parting Glass


Beauty and the Beast

Trombone voice:

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

Trumpet voice:

Basin Street Blues

Clarinet voice:

God Bless The Child

Tenor Saxophone voice:

Hit The Road Jack