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New CD for Jim Hayes

Jim Hayes, aka Johnny Midnight, is at it again. Hot on the heels of two very successful CD releases, the principal cornet of the Co-operative Funeralcare Band is preparing for his third recording session with Scotland's most successful band. But what is it that drives him? What's the thinking behind these projects?

Jim is first and foremost an entertainer. If you get this, then you get his recordings. 'There was a gap in the market after Allan Morrison semi-retired', says Jim. 'Nobody was really making CDs of music with jazz influences, music that anybody could listen to and enjoy, not just the traditional brass band audiences'.

How does Jim choose what to put on his CDs? His first selection was taken from a number of submissions made by composers both established and upcoming. 'Iwan Fox at 4barsrest was really helpful in the early days', Jim explains. 'He was able to put the word out and attract interest. Lots of people sent me pieces, but I couldn't record them all. Some of them were awesome pieces, but really difficult and hard to cram into a short two-day recording period. It was really tricky to choose the final set'. Jim learnt quickly not to discount anything. 'I always wait until I've heard the band parts - the interaction with them is what makes the whole experience worthwhile. I remember when Pete Meechansent Apex, the solo part didn't seem that interesting, but then I played it with the band and....wow! It just had to go on the final list'.

So what has Jim learnt from the previous two CDs? 'I didn't get the process quite right with the first one', Jim explains, 'I basically recorded every arrangement of big band music for solo cornet, which  meant that the recording sessions themselves were very heavy! This time I'm planning to do much more playing in the weeks leading up to the recording to build up my stamina'. As for the content itself, Jim is keen to make sure his listeners are happy. 'The first CD was a terrific success, but if I had to be critical I'd say that it was probably a bit too reliant on similar styles. My aim with number three is to ensure that my listeners have a bit more variety'.

Jim has struck up a strong working relationship with conductor Michael Fowles, who reprises his role as recording MD after whipping the band into shape for the previous two CDs. Jim notes 'Mike is one of the best around for this sort of thing. He makes sure everything is well-rehearsed, and has a plan for each rehearsal and each day of the recording. Every time we need to re-record he's so consistent with things like tempo, which means you get things done faster. He's also seriously picky, which means that the final recording is always of high quality. I remember the first time I turned up to an editing session with one sheet of comments - he probably had twenty!'

Band chairman Chris Davies is delighted that the band will be working on this project. 'Jim is such a great performer, and he has a superb understanding of how to reach people with his music. We're all looking forward to working with him and Mike on yet another exciting project. Hopefully we'll be getting a CD launch concert in the diary soon, so keep your eyes peeled!'

The release date is yet to be confirmed, but Jim will record his third album with the Co-op Band on the 13th and 14th of February.

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