Mike Walker | Madhouse & the Whole Thing There

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Jazz: Jazz Fusion Jazz: Jazz-Rock Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Madhouse & the Whole Thing There

by Mike Walker

A soaringly confident piece of idiosyncratic contemporary fusion, with hip fringe-jazz elements (Sergio Mendes, BB King, Steely Dan) blended with thick-textured, backbeat-smacking grooves and absorbing jazz-rock modes.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Fusion
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  Song Share Time Download
1. A Real Embrace
9:32 $0.99
2. Owed to JC
9:51 $0.99
3. In Two Minds
3:26 $0.99
4. Still Slippy Underfoot
1:43 $0.99
5. I\'ll Tell \'im
12:05 $0.99
6. Dad Logic
9:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Reviews of Mike Walker

18/08/2008 Roger Farbey - All About Jazz
Review as appears on www.allaboutjazz.com

Madhouse and the Whole Thing There
Mike Walker | Hidden Idiom (2008)
By Roger Farbey Discuss

The debut album by British guitarist Mike Walker is surprisingly short, around forty five minutes, which is actually a good thing considering it seems an almost mandatory requirement nowadays to cram a full eighty minutes worth of sound into every CD, all of which is not necessarily worth hearing. Quality rather than quantity is the keyword here. This, however, is a well-considered six track sortie, with an unusual opener, The Latin-edged “A Real Embrace,” evoking a very early Return to Forever, Antonio Carlos Jobim or even Hatfield and The North. Strangely, for a guitarist\'s first album under his own name, there is only a mere whiff of very subtle acoustic guitar heard on this track, with some relaxed Stan Getz-style sax soloing. Some unobtrusive strings are also thrown into the mix but never become cloying.
The lack of full-on guitar is compensated for on the second track, “Owed to J.C.,” a punning title dedicated to Mancunian poet John Cooper Clarke (Walker himself hails from Greater Manchester, in the UK). This is a real barnstormer with some astoundingly good blues guitar, reminiscent of Buddy Guy at his most ferocious. “In Two Minds” is another mover, and though short, it gives Walker the chance to really let rip on his less bluesy, more jazzy chops. That said, this is no relaxed Joe Pass meets George Benson convention, it\'s well and truly into Allan Holdsworth territory but mercifully minus the Synthaxe.

”Still Slippy Underfoot” is a short and quiet bridging track a thousand miles away from the previous one, and which again offers little overt guitar work, relying on clarinet to supply a pastoral melody. Then by dint of juxtaposition, a couple of sampled voices surreally introduce “I\'ll Tell \'im,” which begins with Walker\'s stinging guitar playing the head. Some fine reed soloing from Iain Dixon takes up the majority of the track, but when Walker finally gets to solo his fuzz guitar simply bursts forth with pent-up energy and imagination.

The final track, “Dad Logic,” has Walker flexing his musical muscles yet again with some fine electric guitar work. No repetition, no clichés, just sheer brilliance and the whole madhouse thing beautifully composed and arranged. A damn fine guitarist and a damn fine album.

Track listing: A Real Embrace; Owed To JC; In Two Minds; Still Slippy Underfoot; I\'ll Tell \'im; Dad Logic.

Personnel: Mike Walker: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; Iain Dixon: tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinets; Myke Wilson: drums; John Ellis: electric piano, organ; Sylvan Richardson: bass guitar; Djamila Skoglund-Voss: vocals; Kirsty Almeida: vocals; Laura Hassell: vocals; Georgina Bromilow: vocals; Evette Walker: vocals; Paul Bentley: vocals; Caju: vocals; Mike Walker: vocals; Jack Walker: vocals; Nikki Iles: piano (6); Paul Kilvington : Synthesizer (1, 4, 6); Les \'Cizerace\' Chisnall: piano (6) Alan Tokely: french horn ( 1, 4, 5); Suzanne Higgins: flute (6); John Helliwell: melodica (1); Chris Manis: conga, pandeiro, percussion (1, 3, 6); Caju - percussion (1); En Hudson - harp (1); Mark Heart: spoken voice (2); Paul Newton: trumpet (2, 6); Neil Yates: trumpet (2, 6); Andy Schofield: alto sax (2, 6); Madhouse Strings (1).

18/07/2008 Alan Brownlee - Manchester Evening News
Mike Walker - Madhouse And The Whole Thing There (Hidden Idiom)
Alan Brownlee
18/ 7/2008

LONG overdue, but Manchester\'s guitar hero Mike Walker finally releases his solo album. It\'s obviously a work of maturity.

The very beautiful Still Slippy Underfoot demonstrates that composition is as important as the improvisation.

He doesn\'t disappoint with funky workouts like In Two Minds and I\'ll Tell Him - the funk is Walker\'s great single contribution to Manchester jazz - where his fretwork overwhelms with its slashing power.

Walker\'s lyricism is ferocious - and vice versa. By contrast, Dad Logic is subtle and sophisticated and emulates the slinky perfection of Aja-era Steely Dan.

Don\'t wait so long time next time, Mike.

04/07/2008 Jack Massarik
Madhouse (and the Whole Thing There)
(Hidden Idiom)
Northern guitar heavyweight Mike Walker, overlooked by arts-funding bodies but never by musicians, makes a stunning debut here as leader. As always his solos are brilliant but so too is his writing. A collage of original verse, nutty voiceovers and hip fringe-jazz elements (Sergio Mendes, BB King, Steely Dan) blends into one ecstatic, deep-grooving whole. A True Embrace is a sexy samba for female voices and Iain Dixon\'s tenor sax. Dad Logic and I\'ll Tell \'im are absorbing jazz-rock modes, and an elegant brass miniature is incongruously called Still Slippy Underfoot. A Mancunian masterpiece.

26/06/2008 Stuart Nicholson

Stuart Nicholson’s Jazzwise review July 2008

Mike Walker – Madhouse & the Whole Thing There ****

For such an accomplished musician as guitarist Mike Walker, with a CV replete with names form the very top echelons of the music that include George Russell, Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, Arild Anderson, Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs and Mark-Anthony Turnage, it is astonishing to realise that ‘Madhouse & the Whole Thing There’, is in fact, his debut album. Suffice to say it’s gestation was long and fraught, but seldom can there have been a more impressive debut in British Jazz than this. Walker has an imagination of enormous sweep but also the skill and taste to realise his vision. From the opening ‘A Real Embrace’ a Brazilian samba with echoes of CTI and Claus Ogerman, to the freely improvised trio romp ‘In Two Minds’ to the album’s centrepiece ‘I’ll Tell’im’, which succeeds in cramming much detail into small spaces, this is an album to hunt down right away.

23/05/2008 John Fordham

Mike Walker, Madhouse and the Whole Thing There
(Hidden Idiom)

John Fordham
Friday May 23, 2008
The Guardian

Mike Walker is one of the most powerful jazz guitarists in Europe, but a surreal intelligence, extra-musical talents and a teaching career have kept him from the stardom his skills could have brought him - and still might. Walker is 46 and has never left his native north-west England. This is his first album under his own name but, far from sounding like an insular personal journey, this debut is a soaringly confident piece of idiosyncratic contemporary fusion, with brief borrowings from what sound like radio monologues and pub singalongs dropped into the thick-textured, backbeat-smacking grooves. Walker doesn\'t dominate, but has put the narrative shape of the venture first, as well as the changing colours and grooves of a taut group (at times a little unwavering in its drum patterns) augmented by all manner of guest specialists. Saxist/clarinettist Iain Dixon is magnificent throughout - Stan Getzian on the Latin opener and as ghostly as Benny Maupin\'s Bitches Brew bass clarinet on I\'ll Tell \'Em. Walker delivers a slashing, free-electric guitar tour de force on In Two Minds, and Nikki Iles\'s piano drifts tantalisingly in and out of the jazzier Dad\'s Logic.

Biography of Mike Walker

Born in Salford in 1962, Mike took fifteen years to realise, that his father\'s piano playing, his mother\'s singing, and his brother\'s guitar playing, might just have genetically predisposed him towards a love of corduroy. Realising, however, that careers in the King\'s cords were somewhat thin on the ground, Mike turned his attention to the chords of Kings. In his case, Mike\'s royalty comprised Wes, Joe, Pat, John, Larry, Tal et al. After long months of solitary woodshedding, Mike launched himself upon the Manchester scene with River People, a much loved fusion band comprising Mike on his trusted, and even then, rusted 335 guitar; Paul Allen on fretless bass; Tim Franks on drums, and the always astounding Paul Kilvington (a.k.a. Bob Session) on keyboards.

Mike\'s playing drew the attention of Alan Butler, a vibraphone player of considerable, and deserved repute, who in the 1980\'s had a long running residency at the Malt Shovels, a well-known \'jazz\' pub in Altrincham. Mike joined Alan\'s quartet in the mid-80\'s, where he needed to rapidly assimilate a new vocabulary suited to bebop oriented standards, and more contemporary jazz compositions. This he did.

During the five to six years that Mike was a member of Alan\'s quartet, he had begun to travel further afield, both musically and geographically, playing gigs with Mike Gibbs and Kenny Wheeler. It was with the Mike Gibbs band that Mike was called upon to deputise for an absent John Scofield, during which he was heard by Kenny, who asked him to play with his big band. Also at this time, returning to his fusion roots, Mike had formed a band with pianist and composer Roy Powell which they called Some Other Country. They were joined by bassist Gary Culshaw, and drummer Steve Gilbert. Mike and Gary had previously played together, and had already formed a deep, and almost telepathic, understanding and feeling for each other\'s playing. Some Other Country soon established itself as one of the North\'s favourite fusion bands, generating great excitement, and many devoted fans.

Mike\'s musical collaborations continued to expand during the late 80s and early 90s. One such was with Nikki and Richard Iles who had formed a band called Emanon, which provided a vehicle for the compositional and arranging skills of Nikki and Richard, and fertile ground for Mike\'s brand of inspirational playing. Nikki and Mike would subsequently enlist the skills of Gary Culshaw, and drummer Steve Brown, to form the Mike Walker Quartet, a group which entranced audiences with their empathic interplay.

Also at this time Mike was playing in the Sylvan Richardson band, where he met his long-time collaborator and friend, the sax player Iain Dixon. Mike, Iain, Sylvan, and drummer Mikey Wilson would later form the band which came to be known as Brazil Nuts.

Whilst in Zurich with the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Mike met Julian Arguelles and subsequently joined his quartet. He also recorded several CDs with him, one of which featured on bass, Steve Swallow, with whom Mike would record again on the Mike Gibbs album \'By The Way\'. One of the highlights of Mike\'s association with Kenny was the football match that took place during a recording session. The featured players were Peter Erskine, John Taylor, Kenny himself, Mike, and Django Bates. Watching Kenny trying to decide what to do with the ball as it drifted slowly past him, was to influence Mike\'s music profoundly!

In the early 90\'s Mike toured extensively in various bands led by Tommy Smith, including a quartet with Mick Hutton on bass, and the Canadian, Ian Froman, on drums. Occasionally Tommy added Niels Lan Doky or Jason Rebello on piano. One of Tommy\'s quartets featured the wonderful Scottish drummer Tom Bancroft, an association that would lead to Mike, Tom, and Tom\'s sax playing brother Phil, working together at the Glasgow Jazz summer school. After many years of smiles and sheepish grins across crowded rooms, Phil asked Mike to join his newly formed band. They\'ve been touring steadily since, together with Thomas Strønen, the Norwegian drummer, and bass player Steve Watts who replaced Reid Anderson of \'The Bad Plus\'.

During the last decade Mike has also visited the States, and most of Europe,as George Russell\'s guitarist, recording with him on several occasions. Also, as a member the Creative jazz Orchestra, Mike has played with Vince Mendoza, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Amongst the many other fine musicians that Mike has played and recorded with over the last 20 years, mention must be made of Dave Holland, John Taylor, Tal Farlow, Bob Moses, Arild Anderson, and Palle Mikkelborg, as well as some fine vocalists including Mica Paris, Norma Winstone, and Jacqui Dankworth with whom Mike regularly tours.

Mike has released his own album called \'Madhouse and the Whole Thing There\'. It features the members of Brazil Nuts, plus strings, French horn, piano, brass section and vocals etc.

Mike says about it \"This album is the first under my name. It\'s about dissonance masked by consonance, and having clear statements despite the density. I wanted the harmony to be supported by the melody. I wanted the rhythm and bar lengths to feel completely natural, even though they\'re not. I wanted it to be singable, and street-walk whistleable. I didn\'t want the face to reflect the inner workings.\"

Mike is very busy with new projects. He has written new material for another album which will feature some great musicians from England and USA. He has nearly finished his book \'The Comprehensive Fretboard System\'. He is working hard to build a publishing business with long time friend and musician Iain Dixon, and there are plenty more gigs lined up in the future. He lives in Rossendale with his utterly beautiful children, who provide unending inspiration, without even trying.
Over the summer of 2008, Mike played at the North Sea Jazz festival with Kenny Wheeler and Palle Dannielsson and performed his world premiere of a commission by the Manchester Jazz Festival, ‘Ropes’ a piece for quintet and 22 piece string section, which featured Adam Nussbaum on drums, Iain Dixon on reeds, Les Chisnall on piano and Steve Watts on bass. Mike is also appearing as part of the George Russell Living Time Orchestra at George Russsell’s 85th birthday concert in Boston on the 20th Sept at at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Avenue, Boston.



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