TILTING THE BALANCE
Watercourse Records are about to launch a new series of recordings aimed at capturing the breadth. diversity and cross-stylistic fusions currently emerging in Scottish folk. jazz and classical music. To mark the occasion. Assembly Music are presenting a concert under the evocative title The Tilting Ground. JOE ALEXANDER explains how they intend to tilt the new music balance away from the
domination of the south.
hat specific symbolism invested in
The Tilting Ground was not perhaps intended when (‘hick Lyall wrote the piece. but David Galbraith and Roger Spence. who are jointly behind the Watercourse venture. are happy to endorse the interpretation. Galbraith first launched the label a couple of years ago. but it had lain dormant while he developed his recording studio in Kinross. and is now about to be re-launched with a sequence of three records showcasing new Scottish music.
These are indicative of their committment to encouraging new directions. That is nowhere more apparent than in the first of them. Maoin. a compilation which attempts to live up to its Gaelic meaning of ‘treasure’ by drawing together a diverse range of musical blends. frotn Lyall’s electro-acoustic music to The John Rae (‘ollective's contemporary jazz. the pipes and saxophone collision of Nigel Richard and Dick Lee to William Sweeney‘s setting of Aonghas Macneacail's poem The Remote Glen.
Dick Lee‘s award-winning composition The Last Romanian is included. played by a septet version of his (‘hamber Jazz ensemble. itself
Chick Lyall: electro-acoustic explorations
a mixture ofwhat are normally regarded as distinct ‘jazz‘ and ‘classical‘ textures. Nigel Richard's border bagpipes are also heard with trombone. cello and percussion. alongside an improvisation from the trio Tonight Only. and a duo with saxophonist Steve Kettley and playwright Tom McGrath on piano. The other two releases also reflect the cross-fertilisation of musical ideas which lies at the heart of the project. Chick Lyall‘s The Tilting Ground features the pianist in a duo with Norwegian saxophonist Tore Brunborg. incorporating (‘hick‘s atmospheric. electronically- generated backing tapes as a context for their improvisations. The duo also headline the Queen's Hall concert on 1‘) May. supported by Dick Lee and piper I Iarnish Moore. who already collaborate in The I’icts. Address To the [)ei/ features pianist and composer James (‘lapperton. a contemporary of David Home at St Mary‘s School of Music. and no less gifted a performer. Until his Mayfest concert with Home. James had not played in Scotland since 1986. but has performed widely in Europe and America. The record reveals his
Photo: Marc Marnie
interest in Scottish traditional musrc and medieval literature. as well as the most demanding contemporary registers.
All ofthese underline Watercourse‘s determination to respond to initiatives from musicians working outside of the traditional musical channels. encouraging jazz players who also want to compose. folk musicians who wish to incorporate improvisation. or classical performers using elements from other forms. Both Galbraith and Spence believe there has never been a healthier Scottish music scene. and they intend to document those strengths. and make the music
available as widely as possible. Watercourse‘s limits will be those imposed by the invention and innovation ofthe musicians. rather than by marketing categories. ‘Watercourse has been fantastic.’ Clapperton told me. ‘It has been important to me to be able to come back and work in Scotland with a new. fresh and unbaised recording company.‘ That is a sentiment which will be widely echoed by the musicians involved in this hugely worthwhile venture. The Tilting Ground. Edinburgh Queen '3 Hall. IQMay. Maoin. The Tilting Ground and Address To The Deil available/root mid-June.
Tommy Smith: ./a: : Types (BBCZ) had more proposed starting dates than the Channel Tunnel. but finally got under way on 5 May. The six diverse shows range from Tommy Hanagan and the (‘hick (‘orea ‘Gary Burton duo to I Iue and (‘ry and the BBC SSO. in a commission for saxophone and orchestra from composer William Sweeney. ()ther guests include the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet. the John Rae Collective. and the great bassist Arild Andersen.
'The projects for the series have opened up several new idioms for me .‘ said Tommy. ‘Tbc symphonic piece was very interesting. and technically very demanding. I bought a new Yamaha saXophone. but went back to the Selrner because the new born wasn't piercing
enough to belheard over a seventy-piece orchestra. Breaking in a new horn is like breakingin new shoes.‘
()n tonight‘s show ( It) May). Tommy will play a new song with lluc and (‘ry. as well as joining Pat Kane in the Thelonious Monk classic Round Midnight. although fans going to the band‘s concert in Edinburgh will have to set the VCR. If there are problems for a playerlike Smith in finding space to play within this music. he has enjoyed the experience.
"The song I wrote with Pat and Greg Kane for the series is called Second .N'ature. They helped me a
lot. because I wasn‘t really
at home in this particular idiom. It is very intelligent music. though. and for an
improviser in that context. the philosophy has to be to
burn from the first note when you finally get your short solo!‘ (KM) Tommy Smith .' J ( :2 Types. Friday. BB( 3.3; Hue and ( 'ry. Edinburgh
Playhouse. [9'30 May.
Carol Main takes a turn with the Classical releases
I SCO/SARASTE: Bizet— Symphony in C; Ravel—Ma Mere L'Oye (Virgin). .‘s'o apologies for this issue's selection being biased towards reCordings on the Virgin label. The consistently high standard ofquality. both musically and technically. from this still relatively young label is remarkable. First on May's list is the S('( ) with their dynamic young Finnish Principal Conductor. Not that regularly heard in the concert hall. Bizet's (‘ major Symphony has. as you might expect from the composer of ( ‘armcn. a generous sprinklingof attractive tunes. L'ndcr Sarastc the orchestra is crisp. light and full ofracy vitality.
I BOROOIN STRING QUARTET: Beethoven String Quartets Op 132 and Op 18 No 4 (Virgin). Another
IGLASGOW - BARROWLAND (041 226 4679)Transvision Vamp. 21 June.
I GLASGOW SECC (041 226 4679) Bob Dylan. 6June; The Cure. 18July; Simple Minds. 8—9 August; Erasure. 3 Dec.
I GLASGOW PAVILION (041226 4679) Steve Harley. June 11.
I LIVINGSTON FORUM (0506 419191)The Stranglers.10June.
I EDINBURGH STADIUM CONCERT(031 225 4583) Simple Minds. 12August. I EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE (031557 2590) Shirley Bassey. 7 Oct; Anderson. Brutord. Wakeman & Howe. OﬂZL
I EDINBURGH OUEEN'S HALL (031 668 2019) Throwing Muses. 26 June.
I GLASGOW THEATRE ROYAL (041 331 1234/2332
9000) Scottish Opera/La Traviata. 3June.
I EDINBURGH USHER HALL (031 2281155)SNO Proms. 3—10June.
I EDINBURGH QUEEN'S HALL(031 668 2019) OH 10th Birthday Scratch Carmina Burana. 24 June; OH10th Birthday Fanfare Concert: SCO/Bryden/Haydn Te Deum. 29 June; 0H10th Birthday Concert: SCO/ Maxwell Davies. 6July.
I EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE (031 557 2590) Scottish Opera/La Traviata. 20. 24 June; Don Giovanni 21 . 23 June; Street Scene. 22 June.
I GLASGOW PAVILION (041 226 4679) The Fureys. 18 Oct.
I EDINBURGH OUEEN‘S HALL (031 668 2019)Aly Bain/Phil Cunningham/Dick Gaughan. 22 June.
JAZZ 8: BLUES
INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL. 23 June—2 July. Ring 041 226 326210rlree brochure.
I GLASGOW CATHEDRAL (041227 5511)John Surman/Phoenix Choir Choral Premiere. 27 June. I GLASGOW THEATRE ROYAL (041 331 1234/332 9000) George Shearing. 23 June; Cab Galloway. 24 June; Carol Kidd/Humphrey Lyttelton. 25 June; Stan Getz. 29 June;Jacques Loussier. 30 June; Ellington Orchestra. 1 July; Orchestre National de Jazz/Tommy Smith. 2July.
I EDINBURGH OUEEN'S HALL (031 668 2019) David Murray Trio. 9June; OH 10th Birthday Gala Jazz Night. 30 June.
I EDINBURGH USHER HALL (031 228 1155) Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Big Band. 2June.
I EDINBURGH HOPETOUN HOUSE (031 668 2019) Festival Fireworks/ Humphrey Lyttelton/Monty Sunshine. 26 Aug.
The List 1‘) May— 1 June 198‘) 41