JANUARY NEWS 09
We’ve completed a new track for the Suba film ( which is beginning to perform in all areas with its original music ) and it will soon be on Alagram for all to enjoy. The photos show Claudio taking care of business at the session in spite of an elderly fan.
Secondly, Alagram is developing a multimedia addition to the Drumming4Business Roadshow which will be posted as soon as its paint is dry. This will involve high-speed, high quality imagery triggered by cutting-edge technology, some smoke, a mirror, and a zinc bath.
Aaron Liddard has just left for high-level talks in Los Angeles about his newborn Alagram saxophone conspiracy. The project is shrouded in secrecy, but there have been leaks, and rumours flap bat-like through the music publishing world.
The long-gestated Glugs website is within hours of completion, and nursery walls across the UK are moist with hurled rusks and drool. This, we are assured by Paediatricians, is a good sign, but Alagram cannot yet reveal the Amazingly Famous Celebrity who will be spearheading the project.
Boxer Books have published “ The Big Bell and the Little Bell” in the UK and the US. Early reviews are good and I’d say that even if early reviews were not. Keep an eye out…..First Editions could be priceless, Buy Early for Christmas, etc etc etc.
ALAGRAM NEWS : December 2008
The most recent triumph of the Impressions collection was squeezed into the Vortex Jazz Club, Hackney, a petite and immaculate venue at the cutting edge of London’s late night jazz life. The Private View was on the evening of November 11th, and we got there early, before the faces arrived with their clouds of paparazzi, to apply a few more kilos of BluTack to the backs of those pictures who were still unmoored and who might have been dreaming of escape. On the stage, the Will Collier septet were having a soundcheck, and their sound was good….intricate arrangements with unexpected corners.
The artist formerly known as Me had to take a well-earned and high-speed gallon of anaesthetic on the club sofa,
then the faces began to arrive…..Gerald the Architect (and Aldo Ray body double ), and Anthony McG from Babel Media…
Mark the Lawyer/Conductor with award winning scarf…
….and two veteran journo pals, Duncan Campbell, senior crime correspondent of the Guardian, (a great honour, sir), and Mississippi Mark Law, editor of the online magazine The First Post. Duncan was good enough to get me to dedicate a copy of the Impressions book for his friend Robert Wyatt, who was very enthusiastic, and described it, I’m very proud to report, as “Quite Brilliant!”
....and long tall Aaron Liddard, a saxophonist who has performed with at least two legendary jazz Parkers, Maceo and Evan (!!) and can be seen baritoning behind Amy Winehouse on her Rehab video. He has started his Coleman collection, having studied with Steve, and he’s probably eyeing up Ornette and George.
ALAGRAM NEWS :
The big Alagram news this month, the month known by the Sioux as The Moon when Hangovers Remind You Again and Again of your Own Limitless Stupidity, is to be found among the INBOX pages. For a very long time we've been plotting this particular initiative, Sven Arigato and I, and now it is actually coming into focus like some sort of Online Omar Sharif. We post e-mails from various pals around the world, and various they certainly are...black humour from the West of Ireland,wild imaginings from Cambodia, sixties insiders gossip from Brazil, cultural communiqués from the former Yugoslavia, and , most recently, updates on the race for the White House from Virginia U.S.A...all decorated in occasionally appropriate fashion by our teeming graphics department. We will be monitoring this corner of Alagram with more than usually obsessive attention.
Meanwhile out there in the real world, the nearly new year is rustling with potential. We find ourselves, if not a grandmother, then certainly commissioned to develop the hugely successful Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy...over 4,000,000 copies sold.into an animation series.
Then there is ( or are ) "The Glugs ", a pre-school animation project with a healthy eating theme, written by Paul Mendelson, the creator of TV series such as "My Hero", " May to December " , and " So Haunt Me ", and designed by We the Grandmother. This project is " in development " ( the industry jargon for the agonising period that is a kind of Ice age,.. but longer.., when things, when they do move, do so with the urgency of pre-war glaciers and people talk of money with a kind of dazed agnosticism) .
There are two or three other such Possibles out there in a sort of outer darkness which is where the really exciting Possibles gather, and from which only a very, very few ever emerge .It's scary to think of the tiny proportion of ideas that ever see the light of day in this business, and even more scary to see how few of these are actually worth a ****..or indeed two ****s...
To both our readers, I raise a brimming glass, and an armful of warmth and affection. I'm glad you're here...............
Cork Jazz Festival
The Cork trip was a great success, it really was….socially, economically, commercially,gastronomically, and even ( ! ) alcoholically. The hanging conditions I was so worried about were absolutely fine, well lit and well placed for the passing enthusiasts, and only slightly uneven here and there, nothing that a judicious little knob of Blutack couldn’t pacify. The response to the drawings, from musicians and civilians alike, was better than I could have hoped for. I was hoping to engineer a visit from Phil Woods but he was on a killer schedule, just in from Ankara and Athens, and flying back to the US at 4.00 a.m the next morning….!!! I did manage to pester both bassist Buster Williams and altoist Bobby Watson in the foyer, and drummers Adam Nussbaum and John Betsch actually made a point of seeking me out, not, dear reader, to strangle me, but to enthuse !
Everything in the Garden of Guinness was lovely……and for you conspiracy theorists who think I’m making all this up,here is a radio interview recorded mid-show in the Everyman theatre by Walter Love for BBC Radio Ulster.
(Download the link by right clicking and selecting "Save As", or simply click on the link and be patient))
ALAGRAM NEWS : December 2007
Keen-eyed Alagram observers will have noticed the recent HomePage re-design. Sparing no expense and planting several thousand-league carbon footprints, our design director has hired iconoclastic Webmeister Sven Arigato, flying him last week from Osaka, Japan, to join us here at Alagram Central. Sven is taking a while to settle in, ( he’s missing his recycled cardboard bathroom with its Mangamatronic power shower ) but we’re confident he’ll unwind when the awards start rolling in.
Other recent excitements in the Art Department include the completion of artwork ( characters and backgrounds ) for a downloadable Computer Casual Game based on Dickens’ “ A Christmas Carol”, and the appearance of a new edition of the children’s illustrated classic “ Full Moon Soup” , already, apparently, a collectors item in New Guinea.
ALAGRAM NEWS : October 2007
The 2007 Guinness Cork Jazz Festival plays host to the “Impressions” show this autumn. The Festival opens with a party on Thursday evening, October 25, by which time, God and Gravity permitting, 58,… no,…… 60 of the drawings will be dangling in the foyer of Cork’s Everyman Theatre.
( I’ve framed a recent addition, Michel Petrucciani, and replaced a missing Oscar Peterson. There will be one new drawing in the show, that of Phil Woods who is appearing on Saturday evening.)
I’m rather nervous about the hanging, since the process nearly always throws up unanticipated horrors in a new environment, and after a long and partly amphibious drive, we don’t want horror. I’m sure the music and the famous Irish hospitality will heal and abuse in their different and complimentary ways.
The Frankfurt Book Fair was last week, and I’m waiting to get feedback on several fronts……a new edition of “ Full Moon Soup “, a new kids book called “ The Big Bell and the Little Bell “, and a possible rebirth for “ Little Tree Lost” , while a new UK publisher is interested in the “ Impressions “ book….More details as soon if and as they accrue.
ALAGRAM NEWS : March 2008
Now that the Glugs stuff and the Worst Witch Presentation pieces are complete, ( see new images added to Jan/Feb News below ) I’m back on Little Tree Lost, version 5. This project has been rejected by one publisher three times, and once by another, and there are times ( normally at 4.00 a.m ) when I ponder the phrase “ Flogging a dead horse “, but something other than brute bloody-mindedness drags me back to it yet again.
I notice the date on the first version is 2002.
This time there is a new opening sequence, a new and poignant finale, and a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone…………I can dream, can’t I ?
Another new project that sprang from an encounter at the Cork Festival and took further root over a good lunch in Londons Chinatown is ( or are ) illustrations for a Saxophone Book by Aaron Liddard, who is currently to be seen playing Baritone on the Amy Winehouse “ Rehab “ video, and who has the enthusiastic endorsement of two major sax-playing Parkers, Maceo and Evan, and is working on that elusive third.
ALAGRAM NEWS : April 2008
GREAT REVIEWS FOR FULL MOON SOUP ON AMAZON.COM!!
Thirteen, count them, thirteen 5 Star raves from enlighted and gifted connoisseurs who demonstrate their exquisite taste in tones of awe, wonder, and general astonishment. These are the hallmarks of the budding cult classic.
If you don't believe me then go take a butchers.
See the interactive version here.
This is good news, very good news, so don't fight the urge to contact us at
The Saxophone book is bubbling along nicely and Aaron is on the money,as you might expect from someone with his background and experience. Being smiled upon and encouraged by the two Parkers, Evan and Maceo, is a unique accolade on Planet Saxophone, but one that is hard to quantify to the non-aficionado. In our universe, we might best think of it as a sort of Official Thumbs-Up from both Professor Steven Hawkings and Wayne Rooney.
And talking of high level celebs, there’s a JazzFolio triumph that I didn’t tell you about, ….A coupla months ago, just after the Cork festival, which makes it early November last year, I received an order for my Impressions book from Marilyn Bergman in Hollywood. The name rang all sorts of bells and the Hollywood address rang them again…so I googled. Marilyn and her husband Alan are the lyricists for such platinum-plated songs as “Windmills of your mind” and “What are you doing the rest of your life”, ( music by Michel Legrand,) and for “The way we were”, (music by Marvin Hamlisch.) Marilyn is also President and Chairman of ASCAP, the American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers. You can imagine my excitement at the thought that someone working at that level in the music industry ( with people like Quincy Jones and Frank Sinatra ) was interested in my work. My grin only began to fade last Tuesday.
THE GLUGS PROJECT :
Something which has been bubbling under for many moons now – See News JAN/FEB 2008 – and is now nearly Government-backed . What is definite is a distinct movement out into the daylight. The Website is being constructed, animations and much else besides by the luminous Tom “Stringmouse” Jackson, and Sven will be letting you know as soon as it/them go live.......…..Be Still My Beating Heart !!!
ALAGRAM NEWS : May - June 2008
The current Horror is a job for Inigo Orduna in Madrid. It started off fine……character designs for a Pringles commercial, singing, dancing, and generally ZeitGeisting. But, dear Reader, this is an Agency job, and you know what that means, no? What begins as a silvery Chopin waltz soon turns into a moonless Tango for Cripples, two steps forward, nine steps back. Let us stumble on crushed toes away from that one.
I think that Templar have passed on The Runaway Tree. This is an educated guess since the promised Official Thumbs-Down has yet to appear, but all the drawings are now up ( Link ) , the whole new version of the book now visible in pencil. I will be lobbying other publishers very soon with the desperate vigour of a drowning man.
Vaulting over to the Positive , this Moon sees a new Alagram initiative in the Music Room, ( link )an exclusive series of interviews with leading jazz writers, presenters, and musicians, starting with BBC 3’s Alyn Shipton,and, from New York, writer Howard Mandel, with drummer Adam Nussbaum contributing very soon…..lots of jazz stuff of more than passing interest, set in as personal a context as I can reasonably make it.
ALAGRAM NEWS : July 2008
The Madrid project with Inigo Orduna is now complete, not entirely without input from other Hispanic hands.
Here are our final designs.
The Templar connection remains in place. They’re publishing some excellent stuff and they are currently looking at three of my ideas, first the Hanuman story from the Ramayana, and secondly an ancient idea that was first born in 1981 and was later worked on , briefly it should be said, by Vivian Stanshall. Called A to Z Inside your Head, it is an Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Mind. Finally, the back-story or prequel to the Suba Jungle Robots film.
The Vortex Jazz Club in Gillett Square, North London,have booked the Impressions collection to show in late October to run through the London Jazz Festival. It’s a small venue, seating about 100 , but it is both comfortable and cutting edge.
The Glugs website continues to grow and consolidate, while the presentation package for a brand new version of the Binz initiative is in place and about to dazzle agents and publishers across Europe.
Not much happenin’, man….
All possible patrons seem to have left town. There are some straws in the wind, some little signs of life, but barely enough to make an eyelid flicker. The main preoccupation, apart from ignoring the windfalls on the lawn, is the Suba Prequel idea, originally started for Templar Publishing. I am writing the story , now called Urubu’s Dream, that tells all who are willing to listen how the two tribal robots were activated, and what they represented. I’m finding the writing hard work….I can’t listen to music while I work as I could when drawing and painting,…..no way, ofay…..and it’s a hard struggle sitting there in monastic silence, staring into my own dimly-lit head. But it goes on , and something is emerging.
A more colourful diversion is the making of a new soundtrack for the Suba film that will appear at the end of the book as its climax. The legal aspects of using the original music are murky and complicated, so the cleanest solution is to make a new one. Enter Claudio Kron do Brazil. I met him through Orville Hall, organiser of the EcoRhythm part of the Coventry Godiva Festival. Claudio is a percussionist with four arms, a sunny and can-do disposition, and a 150 watt smile. We recorded the new track three weeks ago up near Leeds, and on Thursday last mixed in some more FX and distortions with Dubmaster in Farnham. Some tinkering remains to be done, but it’s working beautifully, and Applause is gathering along the horizon in great clouds.
More on this later.
I’m sorry there has been such a lull in News for all this time….but the Sargasso seems to be twitching again, a little light plays upon the waters, and Hope, bless her little pointed head, has creaked to her feet again.