Reid Miles – legendary Blue Note designer

Coltrane-Blue Note Cover+Pic

I don’t know how many times I’ve been marveling over the covers of Blue Note records – they never fail to fascinate me. I just love the work of designer Reid Miles and the photos of Francis Wolff.

This article here is really good and it is particularly interesting to see some of the unedited photographs by Francis Wolff and how Reid Miles incorporated them into his designs.

As I really enjoy creating my own graphic illustrations for my music I feel inspired by using the photographs as a key graphic component to the overall design. I understand that Francis Wolff wasn’t always happy with how heavily Reid Miles was cropping his images – but my hope is that Rob Blackham (my go-to photographer for all my musical ventures) is not put out by me ‘messing’ with his awesome photographs. He is a professional photographer and  graphic design is one of the things I’m really into but by no means could I claim to be a professional (nor would I want to be).

Recently I also really enjoyed looking at different fonts and graphic elements as used by Reid Miles. One of the things that really fascinate me is his use of spacing and what I term ‘feel good’ alignment of text, rather than using strict geometric forms (aligning everything to one side, the center, etc.) it appears that he arranges text and fonts as he saw it best fit and hang together. Of course, I might be wrong and he might have been very mathematical about it (maybe using the ‘golden ratio’ or similar) – for me, more importantly I feel inspired to not mathematically align text and everything else for that matter. It ‘feels’ better to me, unless I want to make a point of a strict alignment.

Anyway, I’ll continue to ‘dabble away’ as rather enjoy it very much!

The album cover of ‘A Little Book of Jazz’ (photo by Rob Blackham)

The Red Counts 2 (261018) FRONT

The single cover for ‘Slipped Biscuit’ (photo by Rob Blackham)

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The single cover for ‘Go East‘ (photographer unknown) – work in progress

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‘I called him Morgan’

I called him Morgan.png

I just watched this haunting jazz documentary about Lee Morgan and what led to the tragic death of the 33 year old trumpet genius.

I’m really into documentaries and the ones of musicians are always ranking high on my watch list.

Aside from shining light on what actually happened to Lee Morgan the story around is masterfully told with haunting cinematography, beautiful stills, interview with eye witnesses like legendary Wayne Shorter and Benny Maupin as well as Lee Morgan’s wife Helen talking to us via an old cassette tape (interviewed by Larry Reni Thomas) weeks before she died to tell her side of the story. The interviews from the past and present are entwined brilliantly and the snow footage towards the end of the movie really makes sit up and almost feel like you are there at ‘Snugs’ (Jazz club where Lee Morgan played regularly) on the faithful night.

Of course, last but not very least, Lee Morgan’s trumpet playing and his music is spellbinding. I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the album: ‘Search for the New Land‘ and I ask myself – how could I’ve missed this one before? In one of the scenes Lee Morgan says in an interview that he doesn’t like the term ‘Jazz‘ and offers ‘Black Classical Music‘ instead but even that, in his opinion, doesn’t encompass it all. Have a listen yourselves – enjoy the beautiful music from the master(s) at work and stick whatever label you want onto it.

Search of new Land (Lee Morgan)

Here a review of the movie by Jordan Hoffman for the Guardian. I think it is well written and I agree with Jordan’s observations.

I understand the movie is a Swedish-American production by director Kaspin Collins. Respect to the man – I think this is a masterpiece!

Other documentaries that go beyond the cold facts of ‘what was happening’ are (IMHO):

– Muscle Shoals

– Searching for Sugarman

– Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Also a big thank you bassist Jymie Merritt for this recollections of events – beautiful and haunting. You can find out more about Jymie and his bass-playing son Mike here.

Producers, directors and story writers – please take note of this movie and set out on your own journies and measure up to this inspirational offering.

PS: You can watch this movie on Netflix.

‘A Little Book of Jazz’ – to be released soon!

Slate Digital

We’ve been working hard towards the release of The Red Counts’ ‘A Little Book of Jazz’.

Although the album has already been mixed we weren’t 100% happy with it and started afresh. As we are clearly inspired by the work of Rudy van Gelder, legendary Blue Note audio engineer we thought we wanted to emulate the sound of the classic tape machines.

Rupert Christie, ‘master ears’ for the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra – the funkier sibling of ‘The Red Counts’ has pointed us towards Slate plug-ins and as part of the package they are offering Fabrice Gabriel’s ‘Virtual Tape Machines 1.1’.

The accumulative effect on using this plug-in on all tracks as well as the master bus is just brilliant and exactly what we are after in terms of sound.

The individual tracks are set to a group emulating a 2″ 16 track tape machine and the master bus is set to a 1/2″ 2 track tape machine. Further tweaks to Bias/Tape speed/Tape type have resulted in lovely ‘vintage’ sounding tracks.

We are very much looking forward to presenting you with the album soon! See what you’ll make of it!



André records ‘Pantheon of Greats’

AndreSpang-pianoAndré Spang has just played piano on ‘Pantheon of Greats’ – brilliant performance – as always – what a guy! We really hope that we are going to play these tunes together live on stage somewhere soon.

This was the last tune of the collection of tunes for our first release called ‘A Little Book Of Jazz‘ – don’t want to make any promises but we are hoping to release the album later this year on RSB Records. Only with the blessing of all, of course!

‘Pantheon of Greats’ is an up tempo Blues in Eb (slightly unusual as Blues in F and Bb seem to be the predominant keys for Be-Bop type Blues heads) – but everybody was up for the challenge it seems. I probably found it the hardest, not a myriad of open strings in the key of Eb:-)

The title was inspired by a book of one of my favorite historians/philosophers – Will Durant. I think he used this expression in his ‘The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time‘. The title is too intriguing as to not wanna read the book, right?

Anyway, I’m off to mixing the track and hope to be able to present it to you to. You might want to take a break from reading Will Durant’s ‘The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time’ and listen to some seriously good Jazz whilst having a lovely cup of tea.

the greatest Minds


Speak easy gig at Bar Night Jar

The Red Counts @ Bar Night JAr

We had a great time playing out book ‘A Little Book of Jazz’ to a hip crowd! Gunther, Vasilis and Gary were burning and we felt well looked after by Becky, the venue’s manager. Thanks for the drinks and water (of course) on this hot evening! Can’t wait to do it again! The Bar Night Jar is a happening place, easy to miss and even more gratifying once you found it in the midst of Shoreditch, a few minutes walk from Old Street Tube Street. Thanks also for Grey Goose Vodka for sponsoring the evening!

Here a super Lo-Fi video from our guest table – thanks Andy and Will!

Grey Goose Vodka sponsors The Redcounts @ The Nightjar – Mo, 19th of June


Come down and enjoy a scrumptous cocktail and ‘The Red Counts’ quartet, the ‘jazzier sibling’ of the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra feat. Robert Fowler on tenor sax, Gary Willcox on drums, Gunther Kurmayr on piano and Stefan Redtenbacher on bass.

We’ll play ‘Blue Note’ type Cool Jazz, penned by Stefan with a few classic standards in the mix.

Let us know if you would like to join us – we have a table for six people in front of the stage – friendly faces and ears are always welcome!

£5 per person; sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka. Nightjar – here we come!

Have a listen to get a taste:

The Red Counts – Live at Komo, Guildford, 2nd of April

live-at-komoMy good friend and guitarist Pete Roth has started a jazz club in Guildford – every Sunday evening ‘Live at the Komo’.

He has invited me to come along and perform ‘My little book of Jazz’ with the jazzier sibling of the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra, namely – ‘The Red Counts’.

It will be Rob Fowler on tenor saxophone, Pete Roth on guitar, Gary Willcox on drums and myself on bass.

On Sunday, 2nd of April, at 19:30 there will be a kind of a miniature interview/TED talk about the music and we’ll kick off at 20:00 until 22:00. Looking forward to seeing you there!

More info here and don’t forget to like and most of all – show up:-)

‘Earl’ Robert Fowler (tenor saxophone) & Stefan ‘The Count’ Redtenbacher (bass)

211 Park Drive – André just ‘dropboxed’

Andre Spang piano 1

It’s been a long time coming – but finally I saw the satisfying ‘spinning wheel’ icon on my dropbox icon – followed up with a tweet by André Spang, the pianist from Cologne, with two images with the words ‘You know what this means’. Made me smile and I’m about to insert his piano recording into ‘211 Park Drive’, tune #11 for ‘A little book of Jazz’. André was worried about the tuning of the piano and I will give it a critical listen, however, my gut feeling is that this probably brings flavour and a more ‘realistic’ sound of the piano, rather than a fancy plug-in (as good as they can be, including digital ‘detuning’ buttons).

More to come…now back to Logic!

Andre Spang piano 2