Writer

Hugh is a freelance writer, working across reviews, features, interviews and copy. 

He has had work published in a range of publications, including GRAMMY, The Independent, Jazzwise, The Calvert, The Doe, Private Eye, VAN Magazine,  The Sampler and Bachtrack. Hugh also works as a Copywriter for Efpi Records and Olympias Music Foundation, and is Content Creator and News Editor for Whirlwind Recordings.

Hugh graduated from the University of Manchester with a First Class (Hons) Degree in Music in July 2019, receiving the Hargreaves Prize for Aesthetics. Research interests include post Marxist aesthetics of music, the reception of contemporary music in postwar Britain and the current UK Jazz scene.

Recent Pieces

The Independent – Opinion: Sorry Harry Styles, but the last thing Manchester needs is another vast music venue

“And it is people, more than places, that we should be investing in. It’s the musicians, yes, but it’s also the composers, the technicians, the roadies, lighting, sound and stage management, often in already precarious freelance careers, now destroyed by the pandemic. And it’s the small venues with interesting histories where the next generation of Manchester acts might flourish that deserve our support.

If Styles wants a backing band for his opening Co-op Live gig, he might be wise to direct his investment more laterally.”

The Calvert Journal – Feature: Dragostea Din Tei: caching up with O-Zone 16 years after making Europop history

And then, emerging quite literally from under an audacious filter sweep, comes a tune that will eventually become rooted in the UK’s shared consciousness. Few moments from musical history cut across the culturally reinforced divisions of a whole generation, but the refrains of “maya hee, maya ha” and “nu mă nu mă iei” (or “you won’t take me” in English) have come to represent both a nostalgic throwback to happier times, and, during lockdown, a cultural “throw-forward”. Listening to this song conjures images of a distant future where these beats might be accompaniment to neon nights of drinking and dancing, just like before.

Reverb – Interview: The Boundless Musicality of Shabaka Hutchings

“But these tranquil episodes are far removed from where Hutchings is perhaps more regularly found. The current UK jazz scene is a flavoursome mezze built around jam nights and packed gigs that actively welcomes a multitude of influences, stretching across dance music, club culture, and beyond. It’s in these settings that you can find the roots of Sons of Kemet—Hutchings’ skronking tuba / sax / double drum quartet—and trio The Comet Is Coming that sees electronic duo Soccer96 (Dan Leavers and Max Hallett) team up with Hutchings in a dubby, cosmic adventure.” 

The Big Issue Issue #1425 – Feature: A great fanfare

“There are more reasons for the Blackburn band to be cheerful too. Competitively,
they secured promotion to the top tier of North West banding, moments before the
nationwide shut-down. In footballing terms, Dave describes Blackburn as a ‘banding
West Ham’ and like all of football’s yo-yo teams, consolidating their status is as
tantalising a prospect as any. But in the rejuvenated junior band, shoots of recovery
and growth poke through too. The hope that drives the banding movement remains
undimmed, as the faint echoes of brass music grow louder every day.”

GRAMMY – Feature: Meet Nubya Garcia:  The Rising Star Taking The London Scene By Storm Talks Debut Album ‘Source’

“In clubs around Britain, a loud, colorful revival is happening. Shaped by artists like Soweto Kinch, Shabaka Hutchings and impresario Gilles Peterson, the blossoming U.K. jazz scene, propelled by a welcoming attitude to genre and a celebration of diversity, is bringing a healthy challenge to jazz’s long-running U.S. focus.

In the middle of London’s vibrant scene sits Nubya Garcia, a saxophonist and composer who has a hand in many of the next wave of U.K. jazz outfits.”

 

Classical Music Now: The No Dice Podcast – The Vijay Iyer Interview: Deconstructing Classical Music

Interview with pianist, music maker and Harvard professor Vijay Iyer for the No Dice Podcast, Classical Music Now on his orchestral piece, Emergence, introducing improvisation to orchestral musicians, and deconstructing classical music and its associated concepts.

Whirlwind Recordings – #WhirlwindInFocus: Hazy. fluttering vocals from Natacha Atlas

“In this exclusive #WhirlwindInFocus feature, we hear two tracks from Strange Days, reimagined as solo vocal pieces. ‘Out Of Time’ immediately demonstrates the parallels between Arabic music and jazz, introducing theluttering vocals of Atlas in a tune that exudes sophistication. On the album, Atlas forms a strong musical partnership with violinist and arranger Samy Bishai, that immediately shares her personal duality with a like-minded individual.”

 

The Sampler – Review: Takuroku / Wojciech Rusin Meat for the Guard Dogs

“‘Pigs’ drags us squelching and squealing into Wojciech Ruisin’s sequence of vivid, playful nightmares, with distorted grunts petering out into a snuffling rustle that slowly shies away from the swiney opening.

The track quickly skips through a couple of scenes, in a fleeting exposition of some key themes; a quiet cafe clinks by, followed by bleeping synths underpinned by a shape of water that shifts, swells and parts throughout the release.

Experimental saxophonist and Joy Orbison collaborator Ben Vince quietly lollops into view for ‘House Arrest’, his squawky sustained notes commencing the overtone explorations that fuel Rusin’s dark, blossoming expansions.”

The Calvert Journal – In search of the essential: the life and music of György Kurtág

Now, Kurtág lives amongst the final custodians of the modernist flame, albeit one that flickers rather differently in his hands. He is the isolated artiste par excellence, but sets himself apart from others by actively rejecting ideologies or schools, in a way that seems otherworldly to society nowadays. Kurtág is proof if ever was needed that people of different ages live in the same times.”

 

Jazzwise Issue #251 – Review: Agbeko @ YES

“Led by charistmatic vocalist Ellen Lewis, the band quickly found their trademark big groove, opening with the title track of their new record. Agbeko’s combination of youthful energy and musical substance makes for a thrilling sound; catchy, well-orchestrated horn lines are built on an impressive bedrock of dynamic, varied percussion.”

Classical Music Now: The No Dice Collective Podcast – A Reviewer and a Writer Walk into a Music Podcast

I was invited to be a guest on the No Dice Collective podcast Classical Music Now with Joe Chesterman-March along with writer Georgia Affonso. We talked about reviewing opera, theatre and music and our piece for string trio and narrator ‘Y’alright, pet?’ which we wrote together for No Dice Collective in November.

Jazzwise Issue #248 – Review: Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah + Madison McFerrin @ EartH, Hackney

“Say ‘stretch’ in jazz circles, and trumpeter Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah immediately comes up – ‘stretch music’ is Scott’s own term that summarises his omni-appreciative philosophy of music making. Ancestral Recall retains this outlook, but with the goal of reaffirming the rhythmic complexity of African American music; high-intensity acoustic percussion is in, hip-hop and trap signifiers are phased out.”

VAN Magazine – Opinion: Universal Partisanship: Tracing Beethoven Nine through the Brexit debacle

“Returning to Johnson’s garbled Götterfunken, how might we understand the Ninth’s reception amid a cultural landscape that still holds Beethoven in the highest regard, but that has also succeeded in adding another series of knotted identities and associations to an ever-complex story? The contest is certainly still on (as if it could ever truly be won). But crucially, the piece’s long, complicated history means it has no one fixed meaning, use or purpose, as some during the Brexit debacle may lead us to believe.”

Bachtrack – Review: BBC Philharmonic forges a pathway through the gloom

“A contribution to the Russian tragic tradition lacking the rock-bottom hopelessness of Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov, [Myaskovsky’s] Sixth is a gloomy expanse of dark-hued themes with momentary sparks of light, ironic absurdity. It is a strange piece, comparable in length and proportions to Shostakovich’s Fourth, and, with a lengthy first movement and the brazen brass lines, the comparisons continue. But Myaskovsky’s structural integrity brings his symphonic style into a different territory. It borrows flavours from all, orchestrated in a dense way to create a stodgy winter’s broth of a piece.”

Bachtrack – Review: A tale of two halves as Jess Gillam makes her Hallé debut

“Whether Yamada had much choice in the direction of this regular concert item remains to be seen, but together, they contained Rachmaninov’s swirling, stormy macabre, channelling it into a few gut-wrenching moments of total exclamation.”

The Sampler – Feature: ‘Need someone to write about new music? Ask kids’: Manchester’s Olympias Music Foundation kick on into 2020

“Never mind the ink not being dry on the page, the ink wasn’t even on the page!’, says Jo Yee-Cheung, director of the Olympias Music Foundation (OMF), about the first performance of their mammoth project, Making Manchester. But like the migration stories celebrated in the piece, fixed endpoints are a small part of a bigger journey, of secondary value to adapting, adjusting, and veering off-course. OMF’s short history joyously embraces these potential setbacks.”