Recital Update

With a little less than two weeks two go before my Final Year Recital, a combination of both nerves and excitement are really beginning to kick in. The rehearsals so far have been a lot of fun and really productive, with the pieces sounding better each time!

As I have mentioned in previous recital-related blog entries, I am hoping to keep my recital as diverse as I can, while maintaining my own personality in the 35-minute programme of pieces I have selected. One of the great things about this course is that the recitals for third and fourth year only need to have the selection agreed upon with a tutor, rather than some courses who provide a specific bank of pieces that can be chosen from.


I will be starting off my set alone on stage with my own version of The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever. It’s slightly inspired by Bill Frisell‘s style and I just added my own spin to it. I use my loop pedal to set up a droning sound which creates a nice texture for me to play on top of. It’s also influenced by my adoration of Brian Eno’s ambient music and his use of loops and drone sounds to create atmospheres. It’s really great to play, and I got some good feedback on this piece when I performed it at the Jazz Bar (blog entry on that coming soon), but I’m just a bit worried about how nervous I’ll be when starting the recital on my own, instead of choosing an ensemble piece.

The next two pieces are ensemble pieces and fall into the jazz fusion category, although they are very different. The first is John Scofield’s Trim from his 1987 Blue Matter album. I have been a big Scofield fan for several years and this will be the first time I have performed one of his compositions live. It’s a very challenging piece as the chord I will be improvising over change really quickly. I’m fortunate to be accompanied by my good friend Brian Macleod (Website | Twitter), who performed this piece for his own final year recital last year. He performed his with a backing track, so this year there’s the added challenge of playing with the band! We managed to get through the entire piece on our first rehearsal which was much better than I expected. Looking forward to the next rehearsal of this one!

Trim Musicians:

  • Dawn Coulshed – Keyboard
  • Ally McLachlan – Electric Bass
  • Brian Macleod – Drum Kit

After Trim I will be performing a track from Snarky Puppy’s latest album groundUP, entitled Bent Nails. As you might expect with a jazz fusion track written by the band’s drummer, it’s very difficult to count, so most of my ensemble do as the rest of Snarky Puppy tend to do, and just feel it. I get through it much better by singing parts in my head over the gaps between hits and pretty much have the entire track ingrained in my brain. This is a really fun one, and since we have added horns and keys to our rehearsals, it has really started to sound great.

Bent Nails Musicians:

  • Andrew McLean – Trumpet
  • Gaynor Barradell – Tenor Saxophone
  • Dawn Coulshed – Keyboard
  • Ally McLachlan – Electric Bass
  • David O’Leary – Drum Kit
  • Brian Macleod – Percussion

Next up there’s my own version of Last Night When We Were Young by Harold Arlen. You can check out a recording of my version on the Audio page.

After this little solo spot it’s back to full ensemble with Contusion by Stevie Wonder. This one has been really difficult and I’m still working on getting it up to speed. The most parts being the ascending 4ths on the main guitar riff. The rest of the band, however, have been sounding great in rehearsals, and I only have to add the backing vocal parts to complete it and get it ready for the performance.

Contusion Musicians:

  • Emily Kelly – Backing Vocals
  • Rebecca Shearing – Backing Vocals
  • Bryce Sutherland – Keyboard
  • Ally McLachlan – Electric Bass
  • David O’Leary – Drum Kit

The penultimate piece is likely to be the one that I (and probably the audience) enjoy the most. It’s a medley of pop/funk/rock music starting with Justin Timberlake’s Like I Love You, moving onto Getaway by Earth, Wind and Fire and then finishing on a great live version I heard of Freak Of Nature by pop/RnB singer Anastacia. Rehearsals for this have been sounding great so far, so I’m looking forward to adding singers to top it all of. I’m currently in the process of charting out the vocal harmonies, as it’s quite a tricky one to simply pick up by ear.

Like I Love You / Getaway / Freak Of Nature Musicians:

  • Rebecca Shearing – Lead Vocals
  • Emily Kelly – Backing Vocals
  • Emily Hood – Backing Vocals
  • Dawn Coulshed – Backing Vocals
  • Bryce Sutherland – Keyboard
  • Ally McLachlan – Electric Bass
  • David O’Leary – Drum Kit

Finally, I’ll be closing on my version of the lullaby Hushabye Mountain, from the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I have yet to decide whether or not to have backing vocals on this one. They are fairly easy, so I’m in no major rush to decide. Vocally, I’m basing my interpretation on David Gilmour’s version, but the guitar part will be more complicated and adventurous harmonically, with lots more chord movement involved to make things really interesting. I also performed this one at the jazz bar, and look forward to performing it again.

Thanks for reading!

– Maxwell

2 responses to “Recital Update

  1. Pingback: Joining The Real World | Stephen Maxwell·

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