The Third Degree in moving pictures!

Our third little bundle of jazz is out in the world, and seems to be making friends. It’s quickly become our most popular tune on iTunes, thanks, probably entirely, to the participation of our man Peter Bernstein. Not just one of my favourite musicians, Peter is also a generous, modest, supportive dude. The session was great fun, and Bernstein tore it up take after take. If you haven’t heard The Third Degree, here’s a snippet, with video from the studio. If you dig it, please pick it up from iTunes or Amazon- it’ll only cost you a buck- and tell your friends about it!



I’ll start the lead up to tune #4 in November- I’m thinking a scaled-back sound for this next one, maybe duo? I’ll have more for you soon. In the meantime, let me know what you think of the Third Degree, and what kind of thing you’d like to hear next! Cheers, Nick

The Third Degree (feat. Peter Bernstein)

Track #3 is up on the grid! Entitled “The Third Degree”, it features the sterling talents of not only Jeremy Manasia (p), Dave Baron (b), and Dan Aran (d); but also our special guest- guitarist Peter Bernstein!

The groove is sort of a Blue Note-style Bossa Nova- I think you’ll find it groovy and swinging. Have a listen, and if you dig it, buy it- it’ll only cost you one dollar! Enjoy!

Buy it on iTunes:



Watch: video outtakes from Recording #3!

As you may know, tune #3 of Catch and Release is done and dusted, and once again we were lucky to have talented photographer/videographer Una Stade on hand at the session. Here are a couple of clips of the band in the studio (Smalls Jazz Club), wasting our energy on what ended up being outtakes…

The tune is called “The Third Degree”, and comes out this Wednesday (Oct 15). Dig!

Session #3 in pics, and our secret guest revealed!

Tune #3 is called “The Third Degree”, and it comes out a week from today! Here are some shots from the recording session, featuring our special guest, guitarist Peter Bernstein! Dig:

a6a5IMG_2967a7 IMG_2909 IMG_2919IMG_2935IMG_2959IMG_2966IMG_2968IMG_2930

As always, thanks Una Stade for the great pictures!

A Terrifying Encounter with the Undead, and Some Light Piano Music.

I took my life in my hands and went to Mezzrow after dark for this video. Mezzrow is the new piano room in Greenwich Village, sister club to Smalls, and may or may not be haunted. I should warn you that something horrifying happens in this clip. And then I stop playing the piano and something even worse happens. Here’s tune #3:

If you’d like to know more about Mezzrow, you can check it out here:

New video for track #2, “Hanging for Dear Life”

If you missed track #2, here’s a little snippet! With some footage from the recording session…

Tadataka Unno on piano, Dave Baron at the bass, Dan Aran on drums.

Hope you dig!

(Thumbnail looks very ’80s, doesn’t it?)

Buy it for a buck at iTunes:

or Amazon:

The U2/iTunes fiasco; and Nick gets a bit shirty.

Last week I had to send a rather snippy email to a journalist. The writer and editor of a foreign jazz newsletter, he was on my press list to receive a free download of each Catch and Release track, for the purposes of review and criticism. He informed me that the project would get a mention in the next issue, and I opened it with interest. I was dismayed to find that, instead of critiquing the project, he’d printed the internet links to the tunes, meaning that any of his readers who felt like it could download the music free. He seemed like a decent bloke, he responded to my email with an apology, and it was clear that the incident was the result of a genuine misunderstanding. But it’s interesting that, without a word of suggestion from me, he assumed that music on the internet was free.

I realize that I’ve come across this quite a lot recently. When I explain our project to people, they often come back with “so you’re just giving it away?” It seems we’re getting used to the idea of not paying for music.

This brings us neatly to U2. By now most of you will have realized you have the new U2 album in your iTunes collection, whether you wanted it or not (you probably didn’t), and some of you have probably taken the steps necessary to remove it. (If you didn’t know, here’s the story.) Now, it’s clear that Apple paid U2 for this album (a shitload, presumably), and it’s their choice what they do with it, but to the average consumer, it looks like one of the world’s most popular bands has made an album and is giving it away; and if U2’s music is free, everyone else’s should be too. (The online backlash to this “gift” from Apple has been hilarious- worth looking into if you’ve got some time to kill…)

Apple CEO Tim Cook stands with Irish rock band U2 as he speaks during an Apple event announcing the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch at the Flint Center in Cupertino As I explained to my journalist friend, recording music is expensive. Even with a label or a cashed-up producer, the money has to come from somewhere. Each of these tracks costs me upwards of five hundred bucks to make, and the only way I’m going to see any of that back is by selling the stuff. And if I don’t recoup the money, I can’t afford to make more recordings. That’s the practical reason for charging money, but I also think that giving music away reduces the value we attach to it.

I don’t have a solution to this. I think we’re all assuming that in the coming years, an industry-wide model for music distribution will reveal itself, and hopefully this will involve payment to the artists. But for the time being, I’m making a bit of an effort to buy music. Just a dollar here and there for an independent release, or a classic missing from my library. Just to keep my hand in.

Did you download the U2 thing? Delete it? Is it really that damaging, or just a misjudged marketing attempt? Is there a way we can all send our home recordings to Bono’s iTunes? Let me know!

Cheers, Nick

Inscrutable, impenetrable iTunes

Of all the people and organizations I deal with, iTunes is the most mysterious. And I work with some freaking oddballs. Somehow my music ends up for sale there, but I have no clue how or why.

Like many independents, I use an outfit called CD Baby to handle digital distribution; their system is easy to use, the prices seem fair, and customer service is excellent. When a tune is ready, I upload it to their site, along with recording and track details, artwork, my family history and physical measurements. They approve all this, list the tune on their site, and send me an email saying they’ve sent it to iTunes. Then we wait. CD Baby suggests that it will take 2 days to appear on iTunes. I’ve seen it happen in hours, weeks, and in the case of my old podcast, never.

In my mind, iTunes HQ is a bit like the Wonka Chocolate factory. It’s giant and old, with imposing fences and signs all around. Nobody ever goes in, and nobody ever comes out. Decisions are made in a theatrically arbitrary fashion by a weirdo in a top hat, and the grunt work is done by underpaid iLoompas. They have golden tickets too, but they don’t really want anyone to find them, so they’re packaged with Nick Hempton Band albums.


In the case of my podcast, I tried for a year to get that bloody thing up. Every idiot and his dog has a podcast on iTunes, and the process seems fairly simple. But if one link in the chain is missed, if one iLoompa is asleep on the job, it seems you’re screwed. Countless emails and phone calls to heads of various departments led nowhere- they all scratched their heads and said everything was in order, and they’d leave a post-it note for Jason in podcasts, but no dice. Eventually I gave up. And really, the world is no worse off for lacking that particular series.

These experiences have given me a sort of awed respect for iTunes; the kind of respect one might have for something that is entirely unfathomable- like, I don’t know, the ocean… Or women. In any case, somehow, magically, all the Hempton Band gear is currently available on iTunes. For now. But tomorrow? It’ll probably still be there tomorrow. But after that? “You should never never doubt what nobody is sure about…”

Hanging for Dear Life

Track #2 is here! It’s a groovy medium-slow swinger called “Hanging for Dear Life”, and features the singularly stonking talents of Tadataka Unno at the piano, Dave Baron on bass, and Dan Aran at the drums!

You can buy it through the Bandcamp player below, or from iTunes: or Amazon:

It’ll only cost you a buck! And if you dig it, please tell your friends! Cheers, Nick

Hanging for Dear Life- Head and Out!

Here’s one more quick clip of the guys in the studio, putting down Tune #2: Hanging for Dear Life! If you like the sound of it, you can pick up the tune from the usual places on September 2!