CROWDFUNDING: Mike Walker’s Ropes album


(UPDATE 18th NOVEMBER – The Crowdfunding has reached half way.)

Guitarist Mike Walker, based in the North-West of England, is one of the greats of European jazz. He has performed internationally at the highest level, and worked with many jazz greats including Mike Gibbs, Dave Holland, Steve Swallow, Bill Frisell, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, George Russell and Vince Mendoza. He is making progress towards what will be just the second album in his own name.

However, in a discography going back to 1991, he has so far only produced one album as leader, entitled Madhouse and the Whole Thing There. It was recorded in 2001-2 but it had a complicated, blighted genesis, and was finally released to ecstatic reviews in 2008. It is an astonishingly durable piece of work. It has been called a “Mancunian masterpiece.” One of the tracks, A Real Embrace, is the background to the VIDEO ABOVE. Madhouse is not just catchy, it has established its own performance legacy at NYOS summer schools in Scotland. thanks to arranger/ transcriber Malcolm Edmonstone.


The new album will be called Ropes. Mike Walker has written: “A lot of the music I’ve loved over the years has been written for this instrumentation, from Nelson Riddle to Vince Mendoza. It was like a dream come true for me to write for this ensemble. When I write music, I write for people in my life, both close and not so close.  For me, the music is a reflection of the situations and events that make the beautiful struggle so rewarding. I called the suite ‘Ropes’ because I became interested in the lines that, musically, spiritually, physically and metaphorically bind us together or pull us apart. There are sea shanties here, cliff faces scaled, folks towed home and freedoms fettered. Ropes can be a help or a hindrance.”

Ropes itself is a three part instrumental suite involving a 22-piece string orchestra and a jazz quintet – saxophonist Iain Dixon, pianist Les Chisnall, drummer Adam Nussbaum, and Steve Rodby who will also produce the album.

Ropes was first performed in July 2008 as a commission from the Manchester Jazz Festival, and was broadcast by Jazz on 3. All that music is already written and arranged. The album will have a total probably of seven tracks, and is scheduled to be recorded in autumn 2015.One of the tracks, entitled An evening with Portia – will have words, and will feature Norma Winstone.

Mike Walker told us : “I was meaning to do a follow-up album a bit sooner, but there was such a buzz when the Impossible Gentlemen got going, the follow-up went on back burner and I started composing for the Gents.” The Impossible Gentlemen tour extensively in Europe, and have made two albums.

The crowdfunding was launched last Saturday November 8th at a successful fundraising gig at the Cinnamon Club in Stockport, featuring Mike Walker with Iain Dixon, Tom Higham (Dms) and Gary Culshaw (bass)


The terms of the crowdfunder are all-or-nothing. £5,000 needs to be raised by 20th December. The project is much more substantial, at least three times the money being raised by the crowdfunder, and the money raised will support the budget in general. Mike Walker does not have an agent or manager, (perhaps if he did, the genesis of his albums would not be so long…) but in this case it means that the money will go towards meeting the costs far more directly than is often the case.


After Ropes, Mike Walker has plans for a third album, more of a direct successor to Madhouse, provisionally entitled The things that make the Darklings Sing, the darklings being mystical creatures in Keats who come out at night.


Categories: miscellaneous

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