• Thomas Doggett

EP, learning, and waiting.

The release of Mona Lucy by ENGLISH happens this week! It will be available on all digital platforms July 30, 2021. Physical copies are currently available at our live shows...more about that in a minute. I want to thank everyone for watching our video Ouroboros that premiered last month. We're making music that makes us happy and we love sharing it with your ears...and eyes. Speaking of...here's our promo video for our EP release:


In addition to streaming sites, the album can be enjoyed on YouTube. Tracks are posted separately. Here's the title track:


Want to hear us live...want to buy a CD? Join us Friday Aug 6th at Mainframe Studios in Des Moines, Iowa. We'll be playing two sets between 5pm and 8pm in the lobby for Mainframe's First Friday event: Critical Mass. In addition to seeing the work of 135 artists that represent 35 disciplines, Mainframe is celebrating the completion of Critical Mass, a 360 degree mural designed by Molly Spain. The event is free and all-ages are welcome.



I'm always trying to improve as a musician. It's why I take formal and informal lessons from time to time; I want to connect the dots in my playing. The past three months, I've taken a few lessons with London-based saxophonist, John Waugh. Like many, I discovered John when he started playing with The 1975. From there, I looked into his other projects including his solo material and his collaboration with Plini. As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I've written nine songs over the past year. I asked John if he could go over them with me but added: "I'm game for anything you want to teach me." He gave me a lot of great information and insight for not only my compositions but also my soloing. He asked me at our first Zoom call: "You want to play these songs with real musicians, right?" "Yes" "Good, stop working on your Logic sessions, you're going to end up creating backing tracks." Technology is so great now that any musician can "create the end product." But as John reminded me, music is about interacting with other humans. Next, we dove into my charts...the sheet music. John said: "I'm a bit overwhelmed because there's so much information...you should allow musicians to bring themselves to the songs." I spent the next month editing the sheet music. Some songs went from nine pages to two. For the readers that know how to read music, you understand that a song can be easily explained and so can solo sections, intros, and endings. Taking the time to put on the page what's nessasary and important, a musician can not only read the music but play the music. Lastly, we discussed soloing over my compositions. The conversation leant itself to soloing over any song but we used my songs as a springboard to discuss what John heard and didn't hear in my playing. We spent the most time discussing Triad Pairs. I remember first learning about them in 2002ish. At that time, I went out and bought a book about them but I didn't learn much from that book. John told me that he did the same thing...and then he got with a teacher that explained them clearly...and then he proceeded to make them clear to me. After that lesson, I wanted to learn even more, so I went to the source of Triad Pairs: Jerry Bergonzi. I found a video masterclass where Jerry Bergonzi explains and demonstrates the concept. The beauty of it is that nothing he plays is written down. This forced me to learn each lesson by ear. I'm still working through that Bergonzi video but it gave me a lot to talk about at my next lesson with John. We took the Bergonzi ideas and worked them through multiple keys and this has really enlightened my playing.


Another form of enlightenment for my playing has been Ben Wendel's new book: Path to Altissimo. I'll just share with you what I wrote to Ben:


I got a copy of Path when it was released. It’s become my daily tone study and every time I practice, I think about writing to you. Your approach has truly helped me connect the dots. I’ve been playing for years and I feel like it’s a combination of the amount of time I’ve put in plus the clarity you bring to the mysterious altissimo range. I’ve worked out of Rascher, Rousseau, and Sinta’s books. They all contain great information and I’m sure you’ve worked out of them also. What I like about your method is that the learning curve never becomes too steep. The language you use is always encouraging. Every step along the way is logical. You address issues before they become issues: like when playing the second overtone off of Eb and above you say “kick your voicing muscles into higher gear”, that really helped me. Thank you for getting quality information out to the masses. {Your album} High Heart continues to be in rotation; such a great album. Take care and thanks for making a difference in my playing.


He wrote back with a very nice reply:


Thank you so much for the kind and thoughtful email! I put a lot of care and thought into that book and it's very gratifying to see it's helping players out there like yourself.


It's been a year and a half in the making. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to write and record demos of my nine songs but it also prevented me from rehearsing them. When I finished them last year, I reached out to the musicians I wanted to work with, knowing that we wouldn't get together until it was safe. Now that we're all vaccinated, the time was right to make it happen. Texting and calendars and more texting resulted in my first rehearsal! A few days ago Seth Hedquist, Scot Sutherland, and Russ Tomlinson brought my songs to life. For a year, I've been imaging these songs. The demos have gone from noodling to identifiable tunes. The sheet music has gone from mayhem to clear information....it's all happening...it's really happening!!!!!


There's more to rehearse but man does it feel good!! I'll keep you posted on what we're doing.



For now, enjoy ENGLISH's new EP, take a lesson on that thing you've alway's want to learn, and stay patient...it might take a while but it'll be worth the wait.


If you enjoy reading my musings and you think others might enjoy it, please share it with your friends. Thanks.