V FESTIVAL JAZZ
The alto saxophonist celebrates a cool anniversary.
On the fourth of next month it will be forty years to the day— or more precisely the night — since an event ofsome significance took place in New York City. On that summer evening a nine piece band lead by trumpeter Miles Davis began a two week stay at a club called the Royal Roost. Over the next eighteen months there would be only one other club appearance. Those two engagements plus three recording sessions constitute the entire life span of a unit that has come to be regarded as one of the most influential in the annals of modern jazz.
As to why this band (known in later years as the Birth ofThe Cool band) was to enjoy. if that's the word. such a short existence? Word has it that the jazz public of the day simply didn‘t respond to the subtle intricacies and delicate yet dense textures that were at the core of the group‘s approach and sound. As a result. and as is often the case where artistic endeavour is concerned. widespread approbation was granted postumously.
The nine's unique instrumentation of trumpets. trombone. French horn. alto and baritone saxophones. tuba. piano. bass and drums was
GRAND UNION ORCHESTRA
Try to sum up the musical style ofGrand Union Orchestra. and the chances are that you‘ll come up with the word 'eclectic‘. Go to see them and you'll soon be thinking in terms of 'massive‘ or ‘enormous‘. for there are sixteen of them. These sixteen come from all over the world. and bring with them a bewildering variety of musical styles and traditions. all of which are incorporated into Grand Union Orchestra‘s material.
Their current offering is a large-scale work. by keyboard player/ trombonist Tony Haynes. called ‘Frcedom Calls‘. a set of nine songs which deal with oppression and the struggle for freedom. Haynes's music draws heavily and to great effect. upon the musical experience of the varioUs band members. The two outstanding songs from the set are ‘Santiago de Chile‘. a basically
I Lee Konitz Quartet/John Rae Collective Queen‘s Hall (Venue 72) (368 2(ll‘). 1‘) Aug. ll).3()pm.
simply interested in world music.
if the band had a stammer. and at times (‘eberano's
l l l
the Film Festival. See feature on the colourful Red Rodney. Parker‘s
trumpet player. appearing
at Meadow-bank in the concert.
Platform is the organisation promoting jazz in Scotland and this year's Round .Ilidnight season. this year subtitled Playing With Swing. includes the great altoist Lee Konitz. over from the States with his Quartet. see above; the Blues from West African guitarist Ali Far/(a 'l'oure; big band artistry in the Shades Of Kenton orchestra: a Piano Showcase that includes
A rt Hodes; classic jazz song from Carol Kidd: and the broad vocal talent and repertoire of (ieorgie l’ame with the Don Weller Quartet.
Blues and boogie. electric
and acoustic. it's all down
at the Presy Hall over the next ten days headlined by
voice was almost completelysubmerged. Their version of
exploited to the full by its principal arrangers. Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan. Their scores floated
I Grand Union Orchestra. Queen's Hall. Run ended.
Latin-American piece which. utilizing guitar. sitar. pan pipes. chime
the Jack Bruce Band and Wilko Johnson's shows.
like clouds — ﬂuid tone poems unfolding in supremely unhurried fashion. Not one ofthe twelve songs recorded at the three sessions (January. April 1949 and March 1950) has succumbed in any way to the ageing process. Nor. it would appear have the group‘s three main soloists — Davis. baritone saxophonist Mulligan. and altoist Lee Konitz.
In their early twenties when they helped to give birth to the Cool. the intervening years have seen all three rise to unassailable positions in the jazz hierachy. However. it‘s my beliefthat. unlike his two colleagues. Konitz hasn‘t quite received the broad popular recognition which the consistantly creative quality of his output warrants. This may in part be due to a quiet musical persona. Konitz doesn‘t assault the listener. His is an almost confidential voice relating a seamless flow of oblique melodic and harmonic comments that eddy and swirl with exceptional rhythmic elasticity. Listening to Konitz reconstruct a standard song such as What Is This Thing Called Love or All the Things You Are is to hear a musician of uncommon intensity. invention and authority — one who has had few equals since first coming to prominence with the Claude Thornhill band in 1947.
At the same time the Birth of the Cool band was failing to grow beyond infancy. the Chicago born saxophonist was also associated with various groups lead by pianist Lennie Tristano. Apart from those experiences. and thirteen months (from August 1952 to September 1953) spent as a
member ofthe Stan Kenton band. Konitz has
always been his own boss. In concerts and clubs
j as well as on recordings. there have been duos. - trios. quartets and quintets - and even other nine
piece groups that Konitz has occasionally taken ontheroad. 61 in October. the alto saxophonist remains just
as individual a player as he was back in the ' halcyon days of four decades ago. If it‘s true that
the more things change. the more they stay the same. then in the case of Lee Konitz at least. I‘m 2 not about to complain. (Elliot Meadow) © ‘LGFM.
35 The List 19— 25 August 1988
bars and women‘s voices. achieves an atmosphere that is at times almost ghostly (the stage is bathed in an eerie green light). and the title piece. which relies upon Sarah Laryea‘s marvellous conga playing and African chanting.
‘Freedom Calls‘ is a big work. and Grand Union Orchestra‘s sound is a big sound; sometimes rather too big for a venue the size ofthe Queen's Hall. in fact. The band must be a sound-man's nightmare. especially as. without exception. the members are all multi- instrumcntalists and move around the stage and swap stations constantly. The sound that was produced would perhaps have been easier to disentangle and understand in a larger venue. but I suppose that the size of the audience that Grand Union Orchestra attracted on Sunday rather militates against their booking into bigger halls. As it was. despite the problems. we were able to appreciate some excellent playing. especially that of the saxophonist Chris Biscoe. though all the playing tended. at times when the structure of the music was a little weak. towards the self-indulgent.
Nevertheless. Grand Union Orchestra gave us a good night. It is well worth going to see them if eclecticism is something you admire. or if you are
KATE CEBERANO Kate (‘eberano's pre-coneert publicity w as as fulsome as could be ; she has had coverage in the press as well as on radio and TV. There were glowing tributes. references to her ‘outstanding talent‘. and comparisons with Billie Holliday (can there be a female jazz singer anywhere who has not had that comparison made?) This was all just the usual PR hype. of course. but it was not all wide ofthe mark. Ceberano does not sound like Billie Holliday. but she does have an extremely good voice. She is also backed by a sextet which is competent and versatile. though without being startingly original. Comprising piano. bass. drums. guitar. sax and. it was nice to see. valve trombone. the sextet turned in. for the most part.clear and crisp renditions of a variety of material; upbeat. almost be-bop tunes: the Stan Getz classic One Note Samba. and slower. cooler. more blusey renditions of My ()ne And Only Love. and the Julie London song Cry Me A River. The arrangements. however. particularly in this last song. showed ‘ signs of a certain heavy-handedness. especially in the horn parts. Changes oftempo were sometimes preceded by a moment's uncomfortable silence. as
instance. although it drove along quite nicely. was marred by the sax and vocals sharing the same line. even during what would otherwise have been a fairly impressive. if not terribly spontaneous. display ofscat-singing.
(‘eberano is displayedto
best advantage in the slower songs. where she is given more room to manoeuvre. though I felt that she could have tested her range rather more than she did. Even so. she was easily capable of creating a mellow. dreamy atmosphere in these songs. well suited to the midnight spot in which she performs. and making it well worth taking the trouble to go to see her. (Iain (irant)
I Kate Ceberano Assembly Rooms. 5-1 George Street (venue 3). L'ntil 3 Sept. Midnight. £4.S()(£3.5il)
1988 sees the ltlth anniversary of the .Ilelz'wans Edinburgh InternationalJazz Festival. now grown to monster proportions and expanding further from its Trad and Mainstream origins. This year there is even a concert celebrating the father of modern jazz. alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. which ties in nicely with Bird. (‘lint Eastwood's big~budget film homage to the man. premiered on the 21st at
On the 19th and Ztlth. it's 'l'am White 's new London based band. with the Heaters in support. 9pm—2am. £3; Blues Burglars and Rootsie Tootsie Band. 21st.
7—] 1pm. £2: Bald Cormorant and the Jags. 22nd. 9pm—2am. £2; Britain's top bluesperson Jo Ann Kelly with the Jim (‘ondie Blues Band. 23rd. 9pm—2am. £2; Afternoon sessions with Jo A nn Kelly. 22nd and 23rd. and Boogie Piano. Nth—26th. 3—5pm. £1. Manchester's fabulous guitarist. Norman Beaker‘s Blues Band and Shiver and Shake. 24th. 9pm—2am. £2; Banjo powered ‘gator bashing Swamptrash with (1‘ Spot Tornado. 25th. ()pnt—Zam. £3.50; Wilko Johnson and Panic No More. 26th. 9pm—2am. £4; Rough House. Stealing the Blues. 27th. 9—2am.£3; and the rare appearance. in such an intimate venue. of the legendary bassistvocalistlaek Bruce Band. supported by Blind Budgies ()n Alcohol. Sun 28th. 7—] 1pm. £5. Sure to sell out. get your tickets for this and the Wilko Johnson in advance from Preservation Hall. Victoria Street. 226 3816.
McEWANS JAZZ FESTIVAL.
All at the Jazz Pavilion. Meadowbank Stadium. London Road.
I Birdlandl Monday 22nd, 9-2am. £6. Called atterthe legendary New York club