Tell us something about your relationship with the original Miniatures album?
I bought the original Miniatures album when it came out. I can't remember where I heard about it, maybe it was a review or I heard it mentioned on the radio. At the time I was a lecturer at the art college in St Albans and it fitted into that whole art school/music crossing boundaries ethos. There were a few tenuous personal connections with the contributors to Miniatures too, though some of these only happened later. When I first started working at the college, a few years before the release of Miniatures, Quentin Crisp did some life-modelling there once a week. I used to organise a weekly programme of events held in the lecture theatre and Lol Coxhill, who lived fairly close by, came several times and in later years we worked together from time to time. George Melly came once and gave a public lecture on surrealism, which was the best attended event I arranged. Stinky Winkles were a locally based band who I got to know around that time and later, when I studied for an MA in musical composition, Gavin Bryars was my mentor.....and there were others featured on the album who I came into contact with at some point or whose work I already liked.
Why did you accept the offer to be part of Miniatures 2020?
Because of my continuing high regard for the original album and its concept.
How did you find working with the constraint of 1 minute?
The constraint was not a problem, just an interesting challenge. At the time I was working with a film-maker, providing music and sound for some short stop-motion animations so operating with particular time restraints was the name of the game.
What was your overall impression of the finished product of Miniatures 2020?
The album's packaging was excellent and beautifully illustrated. I found the way the tracks are numbered not particularly user friendly though. When trying to identify particular tracks during listening there seems no easy way of relating CD track numbers to the numbering of tracks as listed in the booklet. I can't really name particular stand-out tracks, though these may emerge the more I hear the album - some I like very much, others less so. As a general point I think there are just too many tracks, but I guess it was difficult to know what to exclude. I could also have maybe done with more space between tracks.
What is your all time favourite record?
Absolutely impossible to say. It's something that can change from day to day or year to year, a totally relative concept. At different times it might well be drawn from the work of any of the following: J S Bach, Franz Schubert, Erik Satie, Arvo Pärt, Howard Skempton, The Shadows, Norwegian fiddle music, Javanese gamelan, music from North, South, East, West and Central Africa, Balkan music, Jimmie Rodgers, Spike Jones,Cajun and Zydeco, Tex-Mex, early Fairport Convention and subsequent recordings by Sandy Denny, Bob Dylan, James Booker, Abdullah Ibrahim, Bill Evans......
Is there a musician you would like to have collaborated with at any stage?
John Cage. Because he was one of the most original and influential musicians/composers I have encountered.
What are you currently listening to?
I am soon moving house, so am trying to have a clear out and have most recently been going through a collection of jazz 78s, some of which I no longer listen to so will be passing them on. But amongst them I have rediscovered some gems I'd forgotten I had - top of the list being a wonderful recording by tenor sax-player Coleman Hawkins who I saw when I was 16 in a concert featuring a range of other jazz greats in a concert at the Colston Hall in Bristol.
What have you been doing since Miniatures 2020?
I've been playing and composing at home, intermittently playing with others but having done very little live work. Around the time of Miniatures 2020 I was working on my own lockdown project which culminated in the issue of an album called The Ludwig Variations (cover image attached). Emanating from a series of solo improvisations on an ancient and rather dilapidated Ludwig accordion it became a collaboration with a number of musicians I have played with over the years, including Miniatures 2020 contributor Nick Haeffner. Each musician recorded themselves playing along with one ore more of the tracks and sent it back to me to edit. The result can be bought from my Bandcamp page. Something else I've started doing since then is to write reviews for the US online magazine Roots World which has introduced me to some great new releases.
What's happening next for you?
I'll soon be moving from Cheltenham, where I've been for the last eleven years and returning to Stroud where I lived before. I'm hoping to be developing some musical ideas I've been kicking around with other people I enjoy playing with.
Where are the best places to discover your work (weblinks)?
www.lithophones.com (reflecting my ongoing interest in music-making with stone)