Sarah Jane Morris at the Stereo Society
Sarah Jane Morris at the Stereo Society
Sarah Jane Morris’s Chronology to 2003
For the years 2000-2002
This was a year spent closing chapters and opening new ones. Halfway through the year, Sarah-Jane decided to part company with her manager Ross Fitzsimons and to go it alone. This led to the birth of Fallen Angel, which was to become her management, agency, production and record company.
In August, Sarah-Jane spent three and a half days in Laylow Studios on the Portobello Road with Marc Ribot and her long term engineer/producer Rod Beale, making the album ‘August’. It was a dream come true for Sarah-Jane, who has been a fan of the guitar playing of Marc Ribot for many a year. Sarah-Jane would like to add a huge thanks to Frank Clifford for his part in making this possible! The two spent about an hour delving through Sarah-Jane’s carrier bag containing half the CD’s from her private collection. The album was no rehearsal, first take, as it should be!
January and February took Sarah-Jane and band to the Jazz Café (London), Devon (The Plough Arts Centre), Dorset (Bridport Arts Centre) and Bracknell (Southill Park).
Mid-February, Sarah-Jane made her annual trip to New York to record with Mike Thorne, on his follow-up album to Sprawl, provisionally titled The Contessa’s Party. This time Sarah-Jane and Mike shared the song writing and three songs were written and recorded at Mike’s studio Stereo Society.
During this trip new friendships were cemented with the wonderful Kathryn Williams and Julie Hegeler! (N.B. from Sarah-Jane: ‘Thank-you both for everything!’)
March saw the release of I Am A Woman, a retrospective album released in the UK, with a 37-date tour of the UK to promote it. Most of the concerts were a sell-out, helping Sarah
Jane and the band to re-establish themselves in the UK. On the 11th March, the band played a sell-out Sunday evening at Ronnie Scott’s in London. Scott Firth, Sarah Jane’s guitarist, took a sabbatical to direct his sister’s band. Sarah Jane asked Kevin Armstrong (of David Bowie and Iggy Pop fame) to replace him for the UK tour and he has proved to be a lynchpin.
In April the band did a mini-tour of Italy, which was a great success. On the 7th July, the band performed to 2500 Italians in a wonderful Roman Villa, overlooked by the Coliseum. On August 11th they followed up at a Women in Jazz festival in Pescara.
In June Sarah Jane and her husband, David Coulter guested on the young singer/songwriter Thea Gilmore’s second album. For those that haven’t heard of her: she was nominated for a Brit Award last year for her debut album. Sarah Jane flew to San Francisco to meet, for the first time, her cousin Armistead Maupin, the celebrated author of Tales Of The City, which is currently being shown on US TV in the form of a mini series. Armistead’s sister, Jane, flew over to meet them from New Zealand (you can check out photographs of this family get together and see the family resemblance on Sarah Jane’s official site). Armistead had apparently read from his book Tales From The Fallen Angel at a Gay’s The Word bookshop benefit at The Fridge in Brixton, which was probably the first ever performance given by Sarah Jane with Jimmy Somerville, which led to the Communards.
Sarah Jane’s record company is called Fallen Angel, spooky! Sarah Jane was fortunate enough to meet up with two long-term fans from San Francisco. Both of these fans have now become friends. In fact, Todd Hedgpeth, a wonderful graphic designer is indeed currently co-coordinating the artwork for the new album August. Whilst in San Francisco, Todd and Nicolas took Sarah Jane to their local drinking spot, where the wonderful Madame, a very convincing transvestite singer and pianist, performs weekly. This woman would be totally at home in one of Armistead’s books. Sarah Jane was asked to sing with Madame and photos of this performance can be found on her official website. Madame is a truly amazing and individual performer. Sarah Jane would like to thank Todd and Nic for helping make her first trip to San Francisco so memorable.
In July Sarah Jane and band played two consecutive days at the Aston Pride Festival in Birmingham and will perform again in Birmingham at The Academy, as part of the Birmingham International Festival, on Thursday 26th July. July and August also took Sarah-Jane and band to Ital for the wonderful outdoor festivals they are so good at organising.
August saw Sarah Jane returning to Ronnie Scott’s to do another Sunday evening concert on the 12th. The rest of August was taken up with completing her next album, with Callum McColl and Martyn Barker, her long term writing partner. The album contains twelve original tracks, exploring acoustic groove soul. We will let you know more about this nearer the release date, which will probably be early summer next year.
September was a strange month. Sarah-Jane, Matt Backer and Scott Firth played their first New York concerts at The ‘Bottom Line’ followed by ‘The Tonic Club’ late on September 9. The concerts were wonderful and the return planes were caught first thing the following morning, getting all safely home on the evening of September 10th, the day before.
Hell Blues Festival in Norway was the next stop, a first for the band. The concert was a sell out and Sarah-Jane and the band were re-booked for the following year!
October saw a return to the Komedia in Brighton, the Ocean in London and a concert in St.Albans, the Dream Factory Warwick and Burton-on-Trent.November and December were busy with Sarah-Jane’s usual sell-out week at Ronnie Scott’s and various radio sessions in order to promote the UK release
of August, the first album to be released on ‘Fallen Angel Records’. The press was very favourable, which helped open doors to a new audience.The year finished in the beautiful town of Orvieto, Italy at the Umbria Winter Jazz Festival, performing seven sell-out concerts leading into the new year.
The first day of the year saw Sarah-Jane performing a long-awaited concert with Marc Ribot, Henry Thomas, Greg Leppard, Scott Firth and her husband, David Coulter at The Umbria Winter Jazz Festival in Orvieto, Italy. The concert was a big success and was recorded for posterity.
At the end of January Sarah-Jane, along with guitarists Matt Backer and Scott Firth, headed back to Italy for a week of promotional concerts for the Italian release of the August album.
February was in Tuscany with Calum MacColl and Martyn Barker, at the studio of Lorenzo Tomasini, mixing the new album ‘Love and Pain’. Special thanks to Lorenzo’s mother for her wonderful cooking.
March was spent enjoying spring, her birthday and recovering from a heavy Christmas and New Year schedule!
April and May saw Sarah-Jane and Band performing concerts around the UK. At the end of June Sarah-Jane, along with Kevin Armstrong (guitar), Martyn Barker (drums) and Henry Thomas (bass), performed her first concert in Berlin for many years. The August album has done well in Germany and there has been much positive press. A thank you to Frank Klaffs for all his help and PR work.
In July, Sarah-Jane, Henry and Greg flew to Montreal to perform a concert with Marc Ribot at the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival. A good time was had by all and hopefully there will be a return visit soon. What an amazing festival and what a beautiful city!
Later in July Sarah-Jane along with Greg, Henry, Matt and Alastair, performed for the first time at the Istanbul Jazz Festival. Once again they received fabulous hospitality, good sound (great house engineer) and hope to return in 2003.
The rest of July was spent (with the full band line up) touring Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. What a terrible life! The weather was great, the food was good, the wine was flowing and the audiences were fabulous! One of the highlights was performing in Palermo, at the Teatro Massimo’ summer location, around a beautiful lake.
August saw Sarah-Jane spending time with her family and friends in Italy and Paris.
Having acted as her own manager and agent for the last two years, Sarah-Jane has managed to re-establish herself and has decided to claim a life back by handing over management to Pete Jenner at Sincere Management and the agency work to Nigel Morton at Moneypenny. Sarah-Jane goes back a long way with Pete, to the Red Wedge days of 1986. Pete has successfully managed Billy Bragg for the last twenty years and more recently Eddie Reader, the wonderful Scottish singer/songwriter, with whom Sarah-Jane had previously been in a band in the early eighties called ‘Fu Fu and Light Soup’. Check out
the video clip of Sarah-Jane performing with Eddie Reader and Ian Shaw (on backing vocals) along with the Jools Holland Big Band.
In September Sarah-Jane returned with the full band to the Hell Blues Festival in Norway. Everyone hopes they are invited back next year. Let’s hope they get to play other Scandinavian dates in 2003. September also saw the release of an album to coincide with the airing of the TV series The Ship on BBC2. Sarah-Jane, along with Andy Sheppard and David Coulter, featured heavily on the soundtrack, written by John Harle, a long time collaborator of Sarah-Jane’s.
This year Sarah-Jane decided to take a break from her usual week run at Ronnie Scott’s in December. Instead she has been appearing on Sunday nights throughout the year at the club at a much more sociable hour! Yes they actually come off stage at 11pm rather than 3am in the morning! The end of September saw Sarah-Jane and the full band return for one of these successful evenings with special guests Paul Taylor (on trombone) and Terry Edwards (on trumpet). Sarah-Jane finally fulfilled a dream performing there with her own brass section.
The year ended with Sarah-Jane performing with a big band and an orchestra at the Opera House in Palermo. What a way to go!
T he new album is complete! Artwork has been designed by Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd (two leading grass sculptors) and includes a photograph of Sarah-Jane photosynthesised on to a grass wall, in San Francisco. The album Love and Pain is due for European release on the 12th May and US and Canadian release in June. Sarah-Jane will play the Edmonton, Saskatoon and Montreal Jazz Festivals on
the 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th June in Canada and the Knitting Factory in New York, Los Angeles and a concert in San Francisco straight after the Canadian stint. A European tour is booked for May and June with a further Italian tour in July.
Sarah-Jane is delighted to have been asked to perform at this year’s Montreux Jazz Festival in July. A Japanese Tour is scheduled for the autumn to promote the JVC release of Love and Pain.
We will keep you posted with confirmed dates. [this ends 2002.]