Ok, 2024, whoa! 3 months have flown by and doesn’t the world feel like it is in a weird and even more f-ed up place? Things feel quite grim, grimy and it’s such a grind for a lot of folks to simply pay the bills. My beloved Birmingham is both broke and very dutty – we are so bruk that I heard we are reducing bin collections and litter dumping is rife 🙁 Climate change is definitely upon and yet us humans still make nominal changes to our carbon related behaviour; more people in cars… seems like less folks are walking andddd it’s been the wettest 18 months in the U.K!

Then we have the West’s continued ignoring of war in Sudan and the Congo, genocide in Gaza and more war in the Ukraine.  It’s all devastating especially for the innocent folk that get caught up in this nonsense….

So…. it feels weird to share the following amidst the current times we are surviving but here goes it, I’m finally writing music for my first EP. It’s taken years to get to this stage which started with reducing the amount of workshop leading I was doing. I had to minimise the time spent on creative projects helping others express their (amazing) creativity as I needed to take time out for me; time to direct energy into figuring out my compositional practice.

In 2015, the PhD I applied to study (examining black orchestral practices) wasn’t successful in its pursuit of funding and, part of me occasionally wonders what would have happened if I had had those 3-4 years to focus solely on my practice instead of doing a PhD that I was ‘encouraged’/funded to do. In my spare time, without even properly realising it, I’m doing the initial PhD I initially wanted to explore in the school of Wake Me Up Before I Go, Go (to Work). The Music of the Unseen tour was the first step, exploring the arranging and compositional skills of African-American Charles Stepney – a musical genius whose life was cut far too short just as he was ready to share his own music with the world, rather than solely supporting other musicians’ artistry behind the scenes. I recently learned Stepney taught Muhal Richard Abraham; co-founder of The Experimental Band and the AACM, orchestration techniques. He also introduced him to the Schilinger System of Musical Composition – where mathematical concepts support the generation of musical material, it’s not an easy read but it’s time for me to give it another go.

So there we have it; the EP is in motion.

Ceasefire now!


Well that was a crazy year. Kind of tough, weird and wonky but so much fun – work wise! Not enough play – definitely didn’t follow the mars bar mantra 😉

5 commissions, several arrangements for the BBC, Netflix and shed load of planning/teaching for newly taught modules. true self has received a nomination for an award and is in the current shortlist for the ISCM British selection.

Didn’t have time to write the EP.

Big ups to my fam, Buddha fam and bessies for enveloping me in love.

2024 let’s go!

The sun is free to flow with the sea

Birthday greetings to the sexy horns over at Onyx Brass, described by BBC Music Magazine as “the classiest brass ensemble in Britain”, who have celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2023 with their second release on NMC.

This new album, The sun is free to flow with the sea, includes a collection of new commissions including by yours truly. Humbled to be included on the same CD as some amazing compositional talent including legends Mark-Anthony Turnage & Errollyn Wallen.

Arranging ‘If I Ain’t Got You’

Challenging and beautiful in equal measure. Different time zones, working with a mostly female team which was ace… It was a great opportunity to work as an arranger on this scale. I learned loads: what not to do, when to say ‘no’ and was affirmed by the amazing amount of melanin on stage – one of the best parts. It was good to have Alicia’s trust in my work and her keeness to work with me; that was surreal to hear. It was nice to (finally) get a little nod from Netflix you can read more here.

House of Absolute meet Philharmonic Orchestra

Was great to work as a composition ‘mentor’, transcriber and arranger for this wonderful collaboration between mutidisciplinary collective House of Absolute and members of Philharmonia Orchestra. All material was collaboratively generated, HOA collective and PO musicians danced, composed and performed – decisions collectively made, all voices listened to. It was great to see the blurring of lines and a holistic way of working starting with breath work, honest, heart felt dialogue and compassion. Was grateful to have a small role in this transformational work.


So what to say? What a year, year zero! It feels a bit like a leap year, but instead of moving forward, we remain in a purgatory-esque state of struggle, suffering, restriction and repetition with pockets of joy. I think it was around January this year when I finally felt as though I had had enough. I miss seeing my friends and giving them a cuddle. I miss having the opportunity to do something even though I probably won’t leave the house.

Currently surviving the precarious nature of post-doctoral life. I naively thought it would provide more stability than being a freelance creative.

I’ve entered my second year of teaching at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s  Junior Conservatoire which has been a nice challenge. I care deeply about my students’ development and often ponder about the best way to support their growth, how do I encourage them to do better without discouraging them when I highlight areas of development? How do I elicit from them their own ideas to move their pieces in a direction that serves the aims of their musical creations? How do I do this on Zoom? How do I make that connection?

Really excited to be hatching some plans with photographer B+. His work has been part of my life well before we met. He’s a cool cat and very generous. I won’t say too much.

Currently reading up on the notion of black aesthetics… Is it a thing? Is it possible? Is it too reductionist to group black creativity/expression into one mode of philosophical thought when Africa and the African disapora is hugggeeeee? Time to launch into some research and find out, eh. Loving this beautiful book by Paul Taylor, Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics

some thoughts

So I’m blogging during these strange times of coronavirus. It’s really odd because in our blind leading the blind lead up to Covid-19 I found that from October – once I had submitted my PhD – all I wanted to do was be around nature. Every weekend I put my walking boots on and stomped around the countryside. I did not want to be indoors at all!

I feel pretty calm despite the madness… Anyway, I don’t know what to say, the UK government have handled the situation badly, black and brown people are dying in record numbers.

There’s a clear class divide in terms of those who are being affected – people have died on my road, it’s crazy. There have been several times where I have heard the clipperty clop sounds of horses transporting those whose lives have sadly been taken to their final resting place.

Then there’s the BLM movement that has been galvanised due to the tragic death of George Flloyd, cue loads of white folks rushing to demonstrate that they are not racist by sharing social media posts about how woke they are or how many times they have interacted with black people in their work. Some of it is well-meaning, some I find is really cringe. I have to limit my time on socials as everyone is shouting about it. Personally, I think it’s time white folks took the lead in addressing their part in all this. How are you are going to avoid creating temporary tokenistic interventions rather than the labour intensive, challenging, durational work needed to create real change for equality and equity? What if that means you need to give up some power ? Are you still down for the cause?

Anyway, during these three months, it’s all about the rituals. I really enjoy teaching my composition students and I’m  listening to a fair amount of music. High-intensity exercise, walks, Buddhist chanting and reading are getting me through.

Some tracks I’ve had on lock:

Still determined to make a real change in my work – which will take a while. I’m in the early stages of planning something exciting… I have to view the journey as a marathon. Reading an ace book which is a dialogue between my spiritual mentor Daisaku Ikeda with legendary jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. A passage that inspired me is where Shorter says he tries hard to create music that puts people in touch with their deepest hopes and dreams they have given up,  aiming to “inspire courage, so people can overcome their fear of the unknown and find a way to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected. He says the process of cultural awakening is one that must be pursued patiently and there are no shortcuts.”

“Cultural exchange raises awareness. By coming into contact with other cultures, people learn that there are many perspectives and ways of life. Such an awareness can overcome long-held rigid and parochial views of culture, which no longer have a place in the world”.

Stay safe.

Decolonising the Music Curriculum #1

Sony have re-released the Black Composer Series led by conductor Paul Freeman and the LSO. Thanks to Dr. Chris Dingle for sharing. Have really enjoyed listening, wish I could buy all the vinyl copies.

I’m currently listening to some contemporary composers Roque Cordero and George Walker. They are both completely new to me.

Roque Cordero according to wikipedia was (August 16, 1917 – December 27, 2008) and a Panamanian composer. George Theophilus Walker (June 27, 1922 – August 23, 2018) was the first African American to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Vinyl Community Collaborative Composing Project: Task 2


Thanks everyone for your wonderful contributions to the first task!

Second task: what do you think are the components of the sound world for RnB/Pop/Soul60s/70s ? What instruments and musical stamps do we need to include so that a piece feels like it sends a nod to that world?

If you want to send in sketches or develop material I’ll send you a link to dropox where you can hear/read ideas and develop in anyway you wish.

Deadline: 26th October 2018.

Any questions drop me an email.

All best wishes,