Encounters with the big hooter…..


The first saxophone I bought was a baritone. I was fifteen, it was forty quid. The local music shop kindly put it aside whilst I saved up the money from a weekend job to pay for it. What a hooter! I loved it; it was going to make me sound just like John Surman.

In truth, the baritone was a disastrous de-lacquered confection of failing solder, fist-sized dents, disintegrating pads and indeterminate key action. My parents were so horrified by this monstrosity of decomposing plumbing that I was made take it back and get a refund.

If, in the intervening years, I’ve got over my early obsession with John Surman, I’ve never quite lost the desire to have a go at the biiig sax. So when Bob, a very good friend, offered to lend me his Jupiter recently, I was waiting with the milk bottles on his doorstep the next morning.

The Jupiter is a fine, fine instrument. I like the massive heft of the baritone; its substantiality. I like it’s gruff, dry, papery timbre. I like it’s late-nightness and it’s capacity to deliver the emotional punch of a sly balladeer.

Bob has equipped his baritone with a nice Otto Link 7* mouthpiece, but I found his blue Vandoren 2 reeds a bit too soft for the kind of sound and flexibility of intonation that I wanted. I needed to try out some harder reeds, but I didn’t want to risk thirty to forty quid for a box of reeds on a mere ‘hunch’. So I went lateral. I dug out my boxes of bass clarinet and tenor sax reeds (blue Vandoren 3s and Rico Jazz Select 3Hs respectively, see above) and tried these in turn, recording snippets to see what I thought of the sound.

Trying reeds that are too small for the instrument presents its own range of interesting challenges (particularly at the bottom end), but the result of the try-outs was that I decided to go with La Voz 3Hs. This choice is in part a teeny-tiny homage to my early playing days, when I used La Voz reeds most of the time, and though I’ve not played La Voz now for over thirty years, I thought there was a pleasing ‘rightness’ in choosing them for a return to my first saxophonic inspiration.

Here’s a quick snippet of me trying out the Rico tenor reed on the bari. You’ll notice a distinct lack of low notes (I did try!) due to the inflexibility of the shorter reed. If you take a fancy to it you are very welcome to download it by going to the Soundcloud page and clicking on the download link…….


Red Square album launch day: the queuing begins…..



posehaemost-2 A queue forms outside a record store earlier today

For those of you who tend towards physicality as opposed to aethereality as your chosen medium of music buying, and who also have a penchant for the archeology of ground-breaking 1970s experimental avant-metal / free improv / shredding mash-ups – or who wish to develop a penchant for the same – Guerssen Records are today releasing ‘Red Square: Rare & lost 70s Recordings‘ upon an expectant world in both 12″ vinyl and CD formats.
The album contains tracks from a 1976 concert recording and from the last known Red Square rehearsal session in 1978.
You can buy copies in all good record stores (if you can find one, that is), or direct from Guerssen themselves: vinyl or compact disc.
If, on the other hand, you’d like to add to the 50 TBs of mp3s already on your iPod, or…

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A playlist…….

Having recently found, to my surprise, that, between them, the tunes on my Soundcloud page have now had over 5000 plays, I had a look to see which of the tracks had been played the most.

I’ve now compiled a playlist of these (see below). There’s an interestingly heterogeneous mix of styles in the list from avant electro-acoustic, through free-jazz, to weird folk, EDM and anarcho-syndicalist situationism.

Nice to see Red Square, Miramar, the Colins of Paradise & Deathless all making the list…..!

I’ve played on all of the tunes, written or co-written a number of them and mixed and produced (or co-produced) all of them.

We are all Area Sales Executives now……..

……..punting our various creative bits and pieces, in relentless bouts of bleary-eyed online self-promotion. It’s a plan for life with failure built-in because no matter how much you do, there’s always a bit more that you could have done. Mark Zuckerberg sets up a content-less website, and we all work like lemmings to fill it up with ‘interesting’ stuff. Now just remind me again; who is it who’s done rather nicely out of that arrangement…. (apropos of which, FB seems to have developed something of the flavour of MySpace recently)…..

Anyway, back to relentless Area Sales Executiveness; I’ve added a ‘merch’ page to the site, where you can buy some ‘merch’. I will get round to clothing it in a fig-leaf of artistic merit by renaming it a ‘Discography’, and adding in the albums that I’ve been on that I either haven’t got ‘in stock’ or are now out of print, etc., etc. But for the time being you can browse the Shop of Jonny right here.

Thank you for shopping at Shop of Jonny.

Not that you’ll probably buy anything, of course; you’ll probably just try to sell me some bloody trinket of your own…….

Red Square @ the 2011 Tinderbox Festival

Here’s a recently re-unearthed two minute extract of Red Square’s 2011 set at the Tinderbox Festival. Due to timing over-runs, we had to cut our set down to twenty minutes, so a lean, spare instrumentation was the order of the day; no electronica, no bass clarinet, no flute. Just guitar, soprano sax and drums.


Just like the old days………

Film and visual manipulations by Colin Harrison.

‘Thin Coat’ by the Duffs

Amongst all the metaphorical loose change, bus tickets, dead wasps etc. that I found down the back of the external hard-drive cushions whilst looking for some of the photos / audio for this blog, I found the little gem below. It’s a recording of ‘Thin Coat’ by the Duffs, a fantastic Oxfordshire-based band that I joined in the late ’80s.

The other three members of the band, Peter Franklin (vocals, guitars), Ian Staples (bass) and Pete Gardner (drums) all lived on narrowboats around Banbury. I would drive up from Southend-on-Sea for rehearsals and gigs in a fantastically decrepit, hand-painted, long-wheelbase Transit that burned oil at such a rate that I had to stop every so often and top up the reservoir.

This recording was made by the legendary and greatly-missed Richard Haynes at Dungeon Studio in Ascott-under-Wychwood.

a tidying up…….

Hello, and a very cordial welcome to my new blog / website.

I  like the WordPress way of doing things, so I’ve decided to ‘migrate’ my old website to here, and, as it wafts gently past in the ether, I thought that I’d take the opportunity to plump up the cushions, run a duster the over the window sills, and tidy up the pages and content……..

I’m still not sure about site architecture, but I’ve decided to assign pages to my various musical outings, aliases and involvements both by name and active dates. If the date bracket is open, the project is still active. If the date bracket has ‘from / to’ dates it’s a ‘resting’ project.

I think (hope) that makes sense!