Phil Hanson: A brass musician with ambition


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phil hansonPhil Hanson is not a musician you will have heard of, well at least not yet anyway! This is surprising when you consider that Phil has been playing Cornet and more recently Trumpet for over 30 years, he has recorded albums at Abbey Road, played to packed out audiences in the Royal Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall (to name but a few), done recordings for the BBC and toured across America, Canada and Europe.

Break from Brass Bands

Amazingly, all of this apparent success was achieved primarily when he played “back-row” Cornet with Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band. Phil was brought up playing in Brass Bands and finally achieved his ambition of playing with Brighouse & Rastrick in 1992. In late 1999 after 7 years with B ‘n R (as they are known in Brass Banding circles) Phil decided he had had enough of the formality and lack of improvisation that was involved with Brass Bands, so he quit while B ‘n R were at the top (at the time they were the number 1 brass band in the world). In the 10 years that followed Phil got married, had 2 beautiful children, built up a decent career in I.T. and played his battered old Rudy Muck Trumpet no more than a handful of times!

From Banding to Jazz

Then in late 2009, Phil decided that the music which was once so much a part of his life, had been missing for too long. He decided he was going to start playing again but this time he would play Trumpet, focus mainly on playing Jazz and would practice like crazy to be sure he could become a much better player than he ever was playing in B ‘n R!

Chops, Composition, and Improvisation

In the last 12 months Phil has been busy finding his chops again. He has bought a top of the range Cannonball “Bavarian Lion” Trumpet (his pride and joy!), invested in a Warburton P.E.T.E. for the days when family life and a full time job in I.T. prevent him from practicing, and started to focus on learning how to play good quality Jazz. Since the majority of his playing life has been spent reading from sheet music with no room for self-expression, Phil is now a keen exponent of what he terms “Composition through Improvisation”.

Whilst Phil knows his way round a musical score and can talk musical theory with the best of them, he now chooses to leave all of that behind him and is concentrating instead on getting the music out of his head and into his Horn, without writing it down first. Phil feels he has more freedom this way and although he may refer to the odd chart for guidance or ideas, whenever he is playing, performing or composing a piece of music nowadays there is no sheet music in sight – something Phil finds refreshing and liberating. Talk to Phil about improvisation and he will admit he still has lots to learn (who doesn’t), but what he is passionate about is maintaining a freethinking and unrestricted approach to playing, something that comes across in the music he has created thus far.

Technology

Technology has also started to play a large part in Phil’s music and after buying a MacBook, plus teaching himself how to use Garage Band and Audacity, Phil started to realise that recording, producing and publishing his own music was not only very easy to do, but could also be done completely cost free! If you check-out Phil’s self built website (www.philhanson.co.uk) you will find not only a wealth of information about him as a person and the various websites he now has a presence on (most of which he has now started to build a small following on), but he has also provided an MP3 player where you can stream (for free) all of his own music. This includes a few tunes done with one of his Bands (Voodoo Electronica) as well as some done on his own.

At the moment, Phil is more interested in making good music and getting it heard by as many people as possible, rather than making money from it. That said, if he were to be offered a record contract or a way to earn a full time salary from his music, he would definitely not turn it down!

Latest work

Phil’s latest musical creation, which is unfortunately not yet on his website to stream because Copyright’s are still being discussed, is a slowed down, Jazz version of a Punk Classic. Phil admits that on paper this sounds like an odd choice of tune and genre to mix together, but Phil is very pleased with how it sounds and he hopes to have secured the copyright to release this track very soon.

Thinking further into the future, Phil hopes one day to be able to leave his full time job in I.T. in order to concentrate solely on his music. Until that time, Phil intends to continue releasing more of his own material and at the appropriate time will start gigging with his music, although he admits he is in no rush to do that until his music is just right. Phil is also on the look out for session work where he can contribute his Trumpet part remotely. Given the current life/work balance Phil needs to maintain, a career as a “flexible” session musician would appear to be a logical next move. This is of course in addition to continuing to produce his own music in his own time and further strengthening his Jazz chops, whilst at the same time holding down a full time job, supporting his wife who also has her own career, and helping his wife to look after their 2 beautiful children!

Phil hopes, and fully intends, to be a world famous Jazz Musician one day, in the meantime though you can check out all the details about Phil and his music at: www.philhanson.co.uk

One Response to “Phil Hanson: A brass musician with ambition”

  1. Jon Gorrie says:

    This by the way, is post #200 for BrassMusician.com :)

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