Kotre Music

John Kotre

John Kotre is best known in the North East of England as a jazz trumpet player with his own band The Jazz Invaders as well as anchoring the brass section of many bands on the blues, soul and funk circuit over the years, including Midnight Express, The Short Blues Line, The Wildon Brothers, The Stax Brothers, Alive and Kicking, Groovenik and he has been a long-term member of the The Fabulous Balls Brothers. He was also involved in music education, coaching and contributing original arrangements to school big bands over a period of fifteen years.

Despite all of this, he has not got even close to giving up the day job.

The Music

The website currently showcases three projects: Ten Improvised Nocturnes and a Blues, an album of totally improvised piano pieces, The Jazz Invaders with downloads of the band's studio recordings, and Trader Trash, a new song about recent financial troubles (!).

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Ten Improvised Nocturnes, and a Blues

These pages present an album of improvised piano pieces by jazz musician John Kotre. The music is free to download. I hope you enjoy it.

On Improvising

With this music I have tried very hard to stick to the idea of improvising from scratch, to play with no preconceived ideas or structures, yet produce music which is considered and logical. The style of the pieces is largely peaceful and contemplative, hence the term improvised nocturnes. Avoiding playing familiar sequences and licks is not as easy as it sounds, and I used various tricks to lessen the temptation, for example playing in less familiar keys, but the main technique is to set the mood and just start. It is important to make clear just how risky that is. One blatantly missed keystroke or poor choice of harmony and the piece is ruined. The very next note might be a disaster. Even if a few minutes of music emerge, is it interesting enough to keep? For the eleven pieces here, about fifty were recorded. In some cases the final piece is the third or fourth go at an interesting improvised opening idea, which became more organised with each attempt, but still grew out of nothing. Crucially, the pieces have not been edited with any cuts and pastes, so where an initial idea is returned to to conclude the piece, that is me trying to remember where I started!

So where does all of this music come from? It is a question I have considered in order to try and do it better, but the classic jazz musician's answer: "I just blow, man" is as accurate as any. What I have found interesting while recording these pieces is that the best results are produced with the frontal lobe of the brain disengaged from the playing, and acting merely as the audience while the randomised conditioned reflexes of the motor cortex entertains it. The problem comes, of course, when the frontal lobe likes what it hears then gets worried about messing up. Anyway, that's what it feels like is happening.

The Music

Nocturne 1

This is the piece that got the project started. I just started recording one day in a less familiar key and was surprised to produce what seemed to me to be a complete and logical piece. I tried to keep the same mood and approach for the rest of the project.

Click here to play Nocturne 1

(Right click or option-click the link and choose "Save Link As..." to download.)

Nocturne 2

Opening with a decending root arpeggio chord sequence, this track then transforms into a waltz, finshing off close to where it started.

Click here to play Nocturne 2

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Nocturne 3

This track wanders far and wide from a block chord field to chromatic then to spaced out threateningly minor chords, drifting to a close in mid-idea.

Click here to play Nocturne 3

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Nocturne 4

This starts with a metronomic four in a bar right hand accompanied by a wide ranging bass line. Then it just keeps going. I don't think I could find some of those chord changes again, so a good example of having little idea of how it had all turned out until hearing the playback. The mood is rather stern, with a lighter feel towards the conclusion.

Click here to play Nocturne 4

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Nocturne 5

A single-note decending line starts and ends this piece, gradually becoming more solidly harmonised, until suddenly transforming into the national anthem of the former Democratic Republic of East Germany for a while. Some further variations lead to a peaceful coda.

Click here to play Nocturne 5

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Nocturne 6

This track developed from an original improvised opening that was restarted two or three times when it did not work out. The result is a rather lightweight, almost country feel piece that sounds more pre-arranged than it actually was.

Click here to play Nocturne 6

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Nocturne 7

This waltz sticks to the same run of four chords apart from a section in the middle. The four chords return until the obvious last chord finally arrives. It was like being stuck in a loop looking all the time for the way out, then finding that it was there all the time.

Click here to play Nocturne 7

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Nocturne 8

Some jagged single-note lines lead to a dense repetitive chord pattern then to a rising arpeggiated sequence which becomes the main anchor for the piece, being returned to each time an excursion fades out.

Click here to play Nocturne 8

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Nocturne 9

Some interplay between independent right and left hand lines starts this one, and similar lines reappear thoughout, gluing the whole together.

Click here to play Nocturne 9

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Click here to link to youtube video

Nocturne 10

This one really does sound like modern nocturne, with a continuous rolling style with changing emphasis and short bursts of repeating figures. The touch gets lighter and lighter towards the end.

Click here to play Nocturne 10

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...and a Blues

Just to break up the mood a little, this is not contemplative or peaceful and is entirely made up of licks!

Click here to play And A Blues

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The Jazz Invaders: Studio Recordings

These pages present a demo album recorded in the late 1990's by The Jazz Invaders. The music is free to download. I hope you enjoy it.

The Jazz Invaders

The Jazz Invaders were a 5-piece group lead by John from about 1995 to 2003, featuring mostly original compositions. The line-up at the time of the recording was trumpet (plus flugelhorn, pocket trumpet and electric trumpet) by John, saxophones (tenor & soprano) by Chris Dee, Anthony Adams on electric and acoustic guitar, Andreas Tawn on bass and Mark Robertson on drums. The music here was recorded in two days at the Northern Recording studios with the intention of producing a demo album. Luckily it was recorded to digital audio tape, so the wonders of file conversion allow it to be heard again.

All of the compositions featured here are by John Kotre except Tarawanga, which is by Chris Dee.















The Music

Tarawanga

This is a composition by saxophonist Chris Dee, he says the title "sounds like an island somewhere or something". The theme is on a latin feel with a funk chorus and a swing middle eight. Chris does some good sax work throughout.

Click here to play Tarawanga

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Sunday's Cool

Our tongue-in-cheek gospel rampage. Church bells in the distance and a choir-like introduction then into the song. Some good solos then reprise with added electronic hand-claps (which sound a bit dated!). On the final chord Andreas is bouncing the bass off the studio floor. No damage to either resulted.

Click here to play Sunday's Cool

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Raindance

This was written originally for a student big band, with the purpose of getting them to play solos, as you can play any notes in the major scale of the key and they all fit. Anyway the Invaders enjoyed playing it too, and it went down so well in live gigs that I wrote a few similar West-African-feel things later.

Click here to play Raindance

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Wheels Within Wheels

The title refers to the interleaving lines often used in compostions by Kenny Wheeler that I like. I play flugel and Chris plays soprano on this gentle jazz waltz.

Click here to play Wheels Within Wheels

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Talk Slow

This is our spaghetti western theme. The title refers fo the Smith and Jones parody of the genre. Anthony Adams takes the lead on sustained guitar and also plays an acoustic guitar solo. Even in the studio this number was hard to play and the band were never too happy when I called it on live shows.

Click here to play Talk Slow

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Invasion Force

A funk line with a chance to use the electric trumpet effects.

Click here to play Invasion Force

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When Your're Around

This ballad is a song with words, following the standard song format of a verse and a chorus, played here with flugelhorn taking the vocal line. Something of a contrast to the previous track, showing the adaptability of the band I think.

Click here to play When You're Around

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More Tea Vicar?

This is a funk tune I wrote for my first jazz group at university, so it dates back to about 1979!

Click here to play More Tea Vicar?

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Trader Trash

Here is a new song which is a sort of pop song protest about recent financial scandals. I am confidently expecting it to become a viral internet hit. Maybe. The lyrics make various references to the futures trading market which I will leave you to figure out.

Lyrics

Iím having lunch with a page three model
Iím trading futures and my life is a doddle
Moving other peopleís money, around the world
Gets me the bonuses, and the girls

Iíve got a private plate on my new Ferrari
A tax-free account at the Bank of Harare
A dockside pad in the heart of the smoke
A lot of champagne and a little bit of coke

Chorus:
How hard can it be?
What could go wrong?
How hard can it be?
What could go wrong?

Just of late things have got a bit sticky
Rumours of losses going round the City
Blew a million plus trade on the Bank of Hong Kong
I think I went short when I should have gone long

Out of the frying pan into the fire
All my options are about to expire
I could end up doing a life of pain
For The London Financial Futures Exchange

(Chorus)

So Iíve stashed a few mil in a hidden account
And Iím betting the lot to make up the amount
Thatís gone down the pan so far
And with a bit of luckÖ.
And if I donít get found outÖ
I could one dayÖ.
RULE THE WORLD!!!

(Chorus)

The Music

Trader Trash

A protest song about futures trading.

Click here to play Trader Trash

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Global Dance Hit

Every single needs a B-side. Everything played by John on this one.

Click here to play Global Dance Hit

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