Flame On!

Ex-Original Mirror. Silver Spur and solo artist Jonathan Perkins has had a long musical history without ever enjoying a great deal ofsuccess. Even so, he has good reason to be satisfied with his latest achievement as The Flame. whose self-titled album has just been released on Anxious Records, through Pinnacle.

In addition. Jonathan has formed a strong band, which worked on the album as well as touring recently with the Average White Band. Their latest live venture sees them take to the road supporting Fish. Jonathan emphasises the band nature of the project.

‘I wanted to get back to a band thing and make records with real musicians. I‘m into rock‘n‘roll. so it is important that l was working with musicians who could play and who were enthusiastic. and that‘s what I‘ve got.‘

Having released his first independent single in 1976, Perkins has been through a cycle of major labels and is now back on an independent Anxious. run by Eurythmic Dave Stewart and he believes this is at least partly responsible for what he sees as his best work to date.

‘After I had signed to Anxious. Dave Stewart told me to go into the studio and make the album that I wanted to make. which is what happened. and it means that there is less pressure to be successful. although I think the album is quite accessible in places.

‘I would like to think that the album reflects the age I am and what I have done in life. I would also hope that it mirrors the things that turned me on to music in the first place. things like The Beatles and the Stones and, at a later stage, punk. Also having worked with Alex Sadkin and Godwin Logie has given me an insight into black music rhythms. and if I thought I could marry that with Beatles/Stones

melodies I would be happy.‘ (John Williamson) The Flame support Fish. Barrowland, Glasgow, M01130.



Good vibrations

It was the great contemporary vibraphone player Gary Burton who once pointed out to me that the instrument holds a unique distinction in jazz, as ‘the only one in which each of the major stylists was still alive and playing.’ The live he named Red Norvo, Lionel Hampton, MiltJackson, Bobby Hutcherson, and Burton himself have delineated the development of the instrument from its first use in a jazz idiom.

One of those players, Lionel Hampton, arrives in Scotland this week at the head of his celebrated Orchestra. Hampton, who turned eighty in April, first formed his Orchestra in 1940, after a highly successful spell with

clarinetist Benny Goodman, and the band boasts a roster of alumni which

includes the likes of Charles Mingus, Illinois Jacquet, Dexter Gordon and Dinah Washington, among many others.

The more recent bands have not been up to that standard -the one which he brought to the Round Midnight Festival two years ago was disappointingly scrappy— but Hampton himself continues to play with great verve and energy. His most famous tune, the much-imitated ‘Flying Home’, was initially recorded in 1942, and its rasping brass choruses and furiously swinging rhythms quickly established it as a standard item in the jazz repertoire. lt captured all the energy and excitement which made Hampton such a sought-after performer.

As one of the most successful band-leaders ever, and one of the two

men who were instrumental in

establishing the Vibraphone in the music, Hampton’s place in jazz is

doubly secure. In that same interview, Gary Burton paid tribute to his

: forerunners. While admitting a special liking for Milt Jackson, he added that

he had ‘grown to have a lot of respect iorthe two pioneers, Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo, who actually

introduced the instrument to the public.

Bed has always sounded surprisingly modern and inventive, even on his old

i records, while Hamp has a wonderful

spirit and feel in his playing- his

; playing is really verytasty.’ (Kenny Mathieson)

Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra,

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 26 Oct; City

Halls, Glasgow, 27 Oct.

The history of 10,000 Maniacs is an interesting study in how an archetypal ‘cult' band can break through to be one of America’s biggest selling acts. From the guitar attack and indecipherable lyrics of their early records ‘Human Conflict Number 5' and ‘Secrets of the I-Ching’ to the polished, accessible and radio-friendly ‘Blind Man’s Zoo’ is a remarkable achievement, not least because Natalie Merchant has established herself as the finest lyricist in contemporary rock, broaching issues as wide-ranging as US involvement in Central America and

- unwanted pregnancy.

In 1981 , the 16-year-old Merchant joined Still Life, a band featuring three

of the current Maniacs— Steve Gustafson (bass), Dennis Drew (keyboards) and Robert Buck (guitar) drummerJerome Augustyniakjoining shortly after.

‘We just met because we lived in the same town, Jamestown, New York,‘ recalls Natalie. ‘We all worked at a local college radio station, and the

1 band kind of grew out of that common

interest in performing new music. At

first we did all covers, learning from other people's music, before going on

to write our own. The kind of things we

. were playing were songs by British

- post-punk bands like The Gang of Four, s The Clash, Joy Division, Delta Five,

and pretty standard America folk things like John Prime and Bob Dylan.

‘We did quite a lot of reggae music as well. It was a pretty odd collection, but people, straight off hearing us do such a variety of music, got used to being shifted from one rhythm to another,

from one melodic structure to another.’

Recently, Merchant has expressed an interest in directing and scoring a film, and has written a children’s book. Still only 25, she recently told a Canadian magazine, ‘I cannot, at 45, still see myself singing “Scorpio Rising". lcan see myself living in a trailer with five children a lot easierthan that!’ (John Williamson)

10,000 Maniacs, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sunday 5.


Several months ago. a half dozen of the best-known players on the Scottish traditional and mainstream jazz. scene banded together forthe purpose ofcreating a disturbance in the best possible sense. ofcourse. As singer Fionna Duncan explained. the band took their name from a classic 1957 record by the late. lamented clarinetist Sandy Brown and trumpeter Al Fairweather. and the McJazz All-Stars were born.

Fionna is Carol Kidd's only serious rival for the title of best mainstream singer in these parts. while clarinetist Forrie Cairns. formerly (like Fionna) of the immensely popular Clyde Valley Stompers. and trumpeter Alex Dalgleish share front-line horn duties. The rhythm team features pianist Ian Armit. who played with Sandy Brown. the estimable Ronnie Rae on bass. and drummer Tony McLennan. They celebrate the release of their eponymous first album with a short Scottish tour. taking in Kirkcaldy (28 Oct). Kilmarnock (1 Nov) and Perth (2 Nov). as well as Edinburgh and Paisley.

Fionna. however. is not the only singer with a new band. Melanie ()‘Reilly's new outfit Watch What Happens will provide the Edinburgh-based vocalist with a setting which she describes as ‘a more modern sound. but still very accessible.‘ and one with ‘scope for developing original material'.

Still on things new. the incoming director of the Glasgow International Jazz Festival will be Jim Smith. a Scot who currently holds asimilar position in the regional jazz organisation Eastern Jazz. Jim isa familiar figure on the Scottish jazz scene through his involvement with the old Platform organisation.

(Kenny Mathieson) McJazz All-Stars. with Forrie Cairns. The Merlin. Edinburgh. 30—31 Oct; Paisley Arts Centre. 3 Nov; Watch What Happens Calton Studios. Edinburgh. 26 Oct and9Nov.

32 The List 27 October 9 November 1989