Released February 2012 (MWR1101)
9-track studio album; 50 minutes
Co-writer, arranger, co-producer & performer (Fender Rhodes & piano)
The Middlewood Sessions was the culmination of 8 years’ work as part of the Middlewood Sessions project (2004-2012). Alongside co-writer and co-producer Alex Beauchamp, Middlewood Sessions comprised musicians initially in Sheffield and then with a wider net spread to London and Manchester. The music draws upon driving dance and jazz rhythms alongside wide-screen, epic orchestral arrangements. With support from Gilles Peterson on his Brownswood imprint and Bubblers series, and then from Dom Servini on Wah Wah 45s, live performances took in Cargo, the Jazz Café, the Hifi Club in Leeds plus the Forum and Runaway Girl in Sheffield. Broadcasts have included BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music. Engineered and mixed by Shaun Trotter.
Way back in 2006 – in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England – lovers of all things jazz, funk, soul and hip hop, Mark Slater and Alex Beauchamp get to work on a project that twists and turns right up to now – Summer 2011. Mark and Alex, plus a hand picked collective of like-minded people, form Middlewood Sessions with one purpose in mind: to forge heavyweight dance floor jazz jams and widescreen downtempo beats influenced by their shared musical inspirations.
With strong initial support from Gilles Peterson, their debut ‘Fall Back’, an explosive and energising jazz dance monster, was released on the Brownswood Recordings imprint in 2007, prompting heavy rotation in clubs and on radio across the globe, and finished the year in Radio One’s Worldwide Winners. The next step – a double-A sided single on Wah Wah 45s in 2008 – showed off the boys’ penchant for a club jazz banger (‘Red Waters’) combined with a sublime, string-laden, timeless vocal cut (‘Astro Blue’).
Since those initial releases, they have focussed their efforts on their debut album – The Middlewood Sessions. A long time coming, a labour of love, the album is an intense, epic, and cinematic offering.