I GEORGE RUSSELL ORCHESTMFint visit tor the great [an composer. Russell is unusual in not being an instrumentalist, but he belles that serious image in conducting his incendiary orchestra. Oueen's Nall (TON Round

Midnight/Fringe Venue 72) 666 2019. 20 Aug, 99m, £7 (£5.50).

Kenny Mathieson tracks down the first batch of top jazz events.

Below previews.

I SONNY ROLLle OUINIET Rollins in the Queen's Neil is this year's top Ian highlight. but you vrill have to move test to get a seat. The intimate venue will bring out the best in one ol the greatest living lazzmen.

Oueen’s ilall (ION Round Midnight/Fringe Venue 72), . 666 2019. 22 Aug, 9.30pm, I 21 0.50 (so).

I STAN TRACEY BIG BAND Ellington tribute led hythe best contemporary British big band. Pianist Tracey cites Duke as a major iniluence. hut imaginatively re-casts his lamiliar music.

Usher Hall (McEwan’s Jazz Festival Venue 20/0iiicial Festival) 225 5756. 24 Aug. 8pm. 212-65.

Guban Son

Norman Chalmers listens to ‘Son’ , the sound of Cuba which has captured the attention of the jazz

world this year.

George Russell, the composer with Dizzy Gillespie of Cubana Be/Cubana Bop, arrives on 20 August, but the inspiration for that great and continuing incursion of Afro-Caribbean rhythms into modern jazz can be found in the music of the two great Cuban bands who open this year’s Festival, the Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pinerio and Los Munequitos de Mantanzas.

Named after their founder, one of the greatest ever ‘soneros’, the Septeto has been performing since 1927, in a changing line-up now led by one of Latin America’s best known singers and Americanised Cuban music, with the real thing.

In the words of Embale, ‘Salsa is son, and son

was born here in Cuba. We have infinite varieties of son - slow, fast, hard and lyrical, funny and

sad. But in New York they only play one style and this doesn’t do any justice to the richness of son. I

well are musicians here in Cuba‘.

i think that the only people who can really play son

V Pinerio’s musical heir, Carlos Embale.

l The musicians may change but the instrumental line up stays exactly the same, with the improvised vocals playing around the trumpet

and fluid accompaniment of double bass, guitar. ‘tres’ or Cuban guitar. and bongos. claves and

2 scraper. Never taken at too fast a tempo, the music gains its charge from a sensuous


Son. the dance music played all over the island. is the essential rhythm of Cuba. It has many varieties, but all are rooted in the rhythms of the two simple wooden sticks known as the claves. the improvised vocals and the repeated choruses.

Los Munequitos, who feature two women in their 1 1 piece line-up. are the oldest established and arguably the finest rumba group in Cuba. famous for their mesmeric movement and call-and-response singing. No melody instruments, but pure percussion and drumming, intricate dance steps and astonishing solo and group singing, characterise the rumba. It is a dramatic event. rather than the tacky sequins-and-tails ballroom dance popularised


I Cubana Be/Cuhana Bop (Fringe) Queen‘s Hall (Venue 72), 668 2019,11/14 Aug. 8.30/8pm.

£5.50 (£4.50).


This time last year. the multi-racial London based big band Grand Union Orchestra were preparing the world premiere of a major new composition by pianist and composer Tony Haynes for the Edinburgh Festival. They are back with another performance of that colourful, highly rhythmic piece, but with the benefit of twelve months of playing to iron out the occasional textural and rhythmic confusions of the first night.

Freedom Calls, which is newly available on both tape and CD, draws on a wide range of musical influences and forms, but. as Tony Haynes points out. “these are not exotic or even foreign influences. Whatever

their origins, the musicians who make up Grand Union are now mostly British, and the Orchestra reflects our racial and cultural diversity. I think it is foolish to ignore this rich cultural mix, and beyond that, I believe an artist‘s personal experience should be drawn into their work, which in turn cannot be divorced from political responsibilities.

‘Freedom Calls reflects these things, and we had to find musical forms appropriate to them. The ‘calls‘ of the title provide the key, most potently in the sense of call and response, a feature found in music from all over the world, but most obviously in African music and jazz. Although I am credited as composer. the musical ideas at work can only be realised through a ' co-operative process involving everyone in the Orchestra.‘

Grand Union incorporate political songs from all over the world within the rather sprawling architecture of their music. and boast many talented soloists in the l6-strong group. In addition. the Cabaret Band play the Fringe Club (Venue 2,14 Aug, 8pm;

i 15 Aug, midnight), while the Street Band will be out in the city centre from

p 14—16 Aug, and Diverse Attractions (Venue 11) will host workshops at 3pm each day. (Kenny Mathieson)

i I Grand Union Orchestra

; (Fringe) Queen‘s Hall

: (Venue 72) 668 2019.16 Aug, 9pm. £5 (£3).


The Edinburgh based jump-jive outfit That Swing Thang are never slow to blow their own trumpet when it comes to publicising their slick show, and enjoyed a very successful threeweek stint on the Fringe last year. Founded and fronted by singer Craig McMurdo. the band‘s energetic cabaret style allows them to fit into both the music and comedy circuits. moving from supporting rock

bands like Deacon Blue

and Hue and Cry to stand-up comics like Norman Lovett and Tony Allen.

Their musical base is derived from the jump-jive style popularised by Louis Jordanin the l940s.but updated with all manner of distinctly modern touches which. they claim. ‘makes us accessible to all people who enjoy polished entertainment and simply having a good time, whether they be young and trendy. starving students. middle aged and mortgaged. or old and pensioned.‘

Nothing like spreading your net wide. I guess. and the show certainly offers plenty of variety. That Swing Thang boast a punchy horn trio. a furiously swinging rhythm section. and some funny lyrics amongst the oddball selection of songs delivered by frontman Craig McMurdo. in between his elegent twirls. More recently. the group have extended the comic element oftheir act in a more overt fashion during a section of the show. but that should not detract from the high-energy exuberance which characterises their work. (KM)

I That Svring Thang (Fringe) Fringe Club (Venue 2) 226 5257. Aug 11-13. 15-16. 18—2022. 23. 25—27. 29—Scpt 2. 8.45pm. £5 (£4).


No. on this occasion we don‘t mean harmonically uncentrcd. non-linear. spontaneous improvisation. We mean jazz music. in the broadest sense. at no cost. Not one dime. Libre.

This munificent gesture on behalf of the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival is courtesy of their brewing sponsors McEwans. and the venues are - where else public houses and hotels attached to the company. There is a lunchtime session and two evening sessions each day. and the

bands rotate around town until they are dizzy.

The list of venues is a long one. as is that of

i bands to fit them. solo

: organise a cheap night out

you must invest in, or borrow, the Jazz Festival programme. widely available at newsagcnts. book stalls, etc. or from the Jazz Festival Headquarters at the Royal British Hotel in Princes Street.

A selection to give you the flavour includes the Leyden Jazz Orchestra out in the suburbs at the Fairmile Inn on the evening ofthe 23d. with Pascal Le Lyon Trio and Swing '89 later the same night.or the Paris High Society Jazz Band for lunch on the 25th in the Postillion just off St Andrew's Square.

Platform l,besidc the Caledonian Hotel serves out more modern fare on weekend lunchtimcs with a trio plus the occasional guest. but anyone looking for the best post-bop workouts should let their feet take them to Fingers Bar, Frederick Street. where Bill Kyle (drums) and Ronnie Rae Jr (piano) lead a fine quintet from 21—25 August.

7—9pm. (Norman Chalmers)

46 The List 11 - 17 August 1989