Spotlight on… JOSH ARCOLEO, saxophonist

12 Jun
Playing with me and my band recently at Pizza Express, Maidstone

Playing with me and my band recently at Pizza Express, Maidstone

I first met Josh Arcoleo a few years ago, while I was singing and touring with the legendary Pee Wee Ellis. He was about 17 years old at the time but played like a seasoned jazz pro.  The word ‘prodigy’ sprang to mind and this quietly confident, unassuming yet sociable and fun teenager had me hooked right away. He ain’t bad looking either!
Both Josh and the brilliant James Morton (alto sax) studied under Pee Wee’s wing from a young age and they’ve clearly had the best grounding.  We were all part of the ‘Pee Wee Ellis Assembly’ and began gigging around the UK and Europe, playing with some of the best international musicians around including Laurence Cottle, Guido May, Patrick Scales, Gareth Williams, & Tony Remy. It was during the ‘Still Black, Still Proud – A Tribute To James Brown’ tour that we particularly bonded, wearing African clothes and singing funk tunes in ‘Wolof’. We were hanging out with the likes of Fred Wesley, Cheikh Lo, Tony Allen & Fred Ross, to name a few, and I became a bit of a big sister to him. These gigs were some of the greatest learning curves in my career and Josh flourished in this environment too.
Touring with the 'Still Black, Still Proud' band

Touring with the ‘Still Black, Still Proud’ band

At the age of 18, he gained a place on the renowned jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music, where he graduated with a 1st class degree in 2011. That year he won both a Yamaha Parliamentary Jazz Scholarship and the Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize, the latter being a recording contract with Edition Records. Josh’s debut album ‘Beginnings’ was released in February 2012 to widespread critical acclaim. He has also received awards from the EMI Music Sound Foundation and MBF Young Talent.

Most recently Josh was nominated for a 2012 London Jazz Award and ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Jazz FM Awards, which was won by the incredible Gregory Porter so no shame there!
As well as leading his own quartet, Josh is a member of Joss Stone‘s brass section ‘The Rhino Horns‘. The Rhinos are a three piece horn section with James Gardiner-Bateman (alto sax) and Will Rixon (trumpet) and the lads have recently been touring the world with Joss and her band.
Sound check on tour with Pee Wee Ellis

Sound check on tour with Pee Wee Ellis

I hadn’t seen Josh for a good while as we’d both embarked on separate career paths after the Pee Wee Ellis days but we bumped into each other at The Coronation Tap (see previous blog). He was playing with Joss Stone that night but after lots of whooping, hugs and catching up I managed to pin him down to playing on one of my own gigs.  It was such a joy to share a stage with him at Pizza Express, Maidstone and that was it, I was hooked again. The roof was definitely raised that night!

I ADORE singing with Josh, he’s such an incredibly talented musician and all round wonderful person and I’m proud and privileged to have crossed paths with him.
Oh and we’ve got a few more gigs coming up in the diary together and I CAN’T FLIPPIN’ WAIT!
Tomorrow at Boisdale, Canary Wharf and this Friday at ‘The Pheasantry’ (Pizza Express), just in case you fancy a great night out!  X
Josh Arcoleo

My review of The Coronation Tap, Bristol

16 May
ImageOne of my most favourite places to sing is ‘The Coronation Tap‘ in Bristol, affectionately know as ‘The Cori Tap’. I was first asked to ‘jam’ there through the brilliant saxophonist James Morton (who is a bit of a musical ‘star’ in his hometown of Bristol) a few years ago.  I was always too busy and just never got round to it.  One fateful evening my ‘other ‘arf’ Danny suggested we go there, despite it being a 5 hour round trip, as James was playing with his band.  After being invited up for an impromptu song or two the rest was history. We brought the house down and I was hooked (Check out this vid from the night)!

It has an incredible reputation for its consistently high standard of live music. In addition to the regular local favourites, many famous artists and musicians have frequented ‘The Cori’…. And for good reason! Lillian Boutte, Andy Sheppard, Ian Matthews, Howard Alden to name but a few. Even Joss Stone recently joined the brilliant Michael Kiwanuka and his band for a night put together by awesome sax man James Gardiner-Bateman of ‘The Rhino Horns‘.

The Cori is one of the best places around to network for a musician and there is a wealth of talent in the area.  In fact, one of the biggest personal influences that I’ve worked with, the legendary Pee Wee Ellis (wrote the first funk track ‘Cold Sweat’ with James Brown, saxophonist in the JB Horns, MD of Van Morrison etc..) lives in Somerset! A lot of great players I’ve worked with over the years also live nearby and have played at ‘The Cori’ including Denny Ilett, Jerry Crozier-Cole, Dan MooreJeff Spencer, Josh Arcoleo, Celestine Walcott-Gordon, Anders Olinder, Johnny Henderson to name a few. I’ve even nicked the fabulous Bristol-based drummer, Richard Laws who regularly comes to London to play with my band.

As a down to earth ‘spit and sawdust’ pub, The Cori is a centuries old cider house with tons of charm and character and is renowned for its lethal ‘Exhibition Cider’. You won’t get better value for money! The people really make this venue, especially the owners, Jan and Mick, who have worked miracles to create the perfect blend of excellent musicians and music lovers. I’ve made some wonderful friends and hugely appreciate the support I get from the people coming to listen to my music. There’s always an offer of a place to kip after my gig, to save the long journey back. It’s typical of the generosity of folk in this pub. I usually have an early start the next day so I have to get on the road, but I always get in the car with a massive grin on my face and a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

I LOVE this place! It’s like a second home and I’m very proud to have my picture on their legendary wall of fame.

Oh, and don’t just take my word for it… I’m next there with my band on Sunday 30th June from 8pm.  Hope to see you x

For more gig info CLICK HERE

New Beginnings…

14 May

Soul Source


Here it is…. my first EVER blog!!

Well although I’ve been at this game of singing for a while now it’s only fairly recently that I’ve taken the very scary leap of doing music in my own right.

It’s a real challenge! Gone are the days of relying on other artists and bands to book you, with no real responsibilities other than to learn the material and turn up at the gig to give it your all.

Now I’M the artist and it comes with a LOT of hard work. Writing, practicing, producing, promoting, facebook and tweeting, website building, editing audio/video promo, various meetings, networking, booking musicians, sorting set lists/ music, rehearsing, musical directing….as well as trying to keep in enough good physical shape to put on your best performance every time! And all this is ASIDE of the huge work my manager, Danny Williams (hitherto known as ‘the other ‘arf’) does to get me all the gigs in the first place.

The rewards are definitely great though. I’ve had the privilege of travelling the world and singing backing vocals in countries and venues I’d never dreamed of doing. But nothing quite beats the feeling of belting out your own songs in a room packed full of people who are really appreciating it… Then taking the time to chat to people afterwards (as they hopefully buy one of your CDs).

I’m blessed to have such an amazing band, ‘Soul Source’ (see picture of us above at an exclusive Mayfair club) whom I utterly respect and can call my friends, as well as fierce and funky players.

So…armed with some amazing musicians and a whole new determination to ‘get out there and kick some ass’, I’ll be keeping you in the loop with all my LATEST GIGS (of which I’m going to cheekily mention that I’m the first singer to have a weekly Thursday night residency at the renowned Boisdale, Canary Wharf where Jools Holland is the Patron of Music). CLICK HERE for listings and to book tickets.

If you’d like to SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER, you’ll also get a heads up on some FREE downloads, gig tickets, giveaways, competitions etc..

All very exciting stuff so watch this space…x

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