Recording and producing, working on the arrangements, often co-writing the songs or the music, playing lots of instruments, Mike Collins is a ‘jack of all trades’ in the studio, typically helping the musicians to find the best parts to play to support the featured vocalists and soloists.
Most important of all are the musicians who play on these recordings, without whom none of these recordings would exist! So Jim Mullen plays guitar, Winston Blissett and John McKenzie play bass guitars, Marc Parnell, Blair Cunningham and Graham Dean play drums, Roger Beaujolais plays vibraphone and glockenspiel. Damon Butcher, Keith O’Connell and Bill Mudge play keyboards, together with other guest musicians such as Clive Mellor who plays blues harmonica, Jay Stapley who plays rock guitar, Lyn Dobson who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones and flute, Rowland Sutherland who plays flutes, Jamie Talbot who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, Gary Barnacle who plays tenor, alto and baritone saxophones, Shabaka Hutchings who plays bass clarinet and tenor sax, Karl Rasheed-Abel who plays double-bass, and Snake Davis who plays saxes and flutes.
A series of musical collaborations and interactions throughout the past 30 + years lies behind the genesis of these recordings, as Mike explains: “I introduced Clive Mellor to the harmonica and played blues with him as far back as 1977 up in Manchester at the Band On The Wall. Similarly, I met drummers Marc Parnell and Graham Dean as far back as 1978 or 1979 when I did gigs with Graham in the Lancashire area and recommended Marc for his first professional gig with a band called “The Inversions” just after I moved to London.
I worked on recording sessions in London back in the 80’s with keyboard players Keith O’Connell and Damon Butcher, with sax players ‘Snake’ Davis and Jamie Talbot, and with bass player John McKenzie. In the early 90’s, John McKenzie introduced me to drummer Blair Cunningham who, ten years later, became an important collaborator and co-writer. Somewhere around 1996 I met Lyn Dobson and started recording a series of collaborations featuring Lyn on saxes and flute. Then in 1998, I started a series of creative collaborations with Jim Mullen that is really starting to ‘bear fruit’ since I launched Rude Note Records with the release of three instrumental albums on the label.
In February of 2004, I started writing and recording with Blair Cunningham, and in May of that year I bought a Ludwig drumkit for my studio so that Blair, Marc and Graham would find it convenient to come and record. Blair invited Winston Blissett to record with us for the first time later that month and Winston has become one of the most valued members of the team since that time! More recent musical ‘friends’ include Roger Beaujolais who plays vibraphone and glockenspiel, Rowland Sutherland who plays flute, Bill Mudge who plays Hammond organ and keyboards, Gary Barnacle who plays saxes, and Jay Stapley who plays rock guitar.”