Kenny Mathieson reports on the Scottish Jazz Network (below), while Norman Chalmers jams with
The Waterboys in LA (overleaf). Plus DC Ellis and Tracy Nelson. LISTINGS: ROCK 33 JAZZ 35 FOLK 36 CLASSICAL 38
Kenny Mathieson looks at the prospects for Scottish Jazz in the 19905.
While jazz in Scotland remains all too vulnerable to small shifts in the economic wind, and hugely vulnerable to the whims of public funding bodies in general, and the Scottish Arts Council in particular, there is no doubt that the current scene is as strong as it has been for many, many years.
The 19805 saw the re-emergence of what had begun to look like a lost species, the young jazz player. Back in the 19605 and 19705, the generation of Bobby Wishart, Gordon Cruickshank, Brian Keddic, et al, emerged on the scene through bop or jazz rock, but, with the stellar exception ofTommy Smith, no immediate new generation of players surfaced in their wake.
The UK national resurgence of interest in jazz, combined with the growth in exposure to the music in Scotland (mainly nurtured by the late Platform organisation, and now maintained at an international level by Assembly Music in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Jazz Festivals, and the Aberdeen Alternative Festival), has produced an encouraging ﬂowering of diverse talents north of the border in the late 1980s.
Tommy Smith’s importance as an example cannot be over-stated, and many of his contemporaries are now pushing for their own share of the limelight beyond national borders. Pianist and composer Chick Lyall,
Mela coming up last in 1990?
nie O'Reilly's Watch What Happens:
multi-instrumentalist and supremely eclectic composer Dick Lee, and the excellent John Rae Collective currently lead the pack, with Tom Bancroft‘s Orange Ear Ensemble and Melanie O’Reilly‘s new Watch What Happens (both groups share several members with the
Collective) close behind.
Add to that names like saxophonist John Burgess, currently working in London, guitarists Nigel Clark and Graeme Duffin, drummer Andy McGlashen, trumpeter Gregor Clark, guitarist Kevin Murray, and the talent-breeding pools of the Strathclyde and Fife Youth Jazz Orchestras, and it all adds up to a strong, diverse Scottish scene, and that is before we take into account the ongoing contribution made by the not-so-young, better—established musicians who sustained Scottish jazz through the leaner years.
The demise of Platform, however, left what many musicians and observers felt was a worrying gap in the provision of suitable public platforms for these musicians. Even at its best, the pub scene is scrappy and unsatisfactory; these musicians require decent concert settings in properly promoted venues. Assembly are limited
in what they can do, although Roger Spence does have ambitious plans for next year, and while the Festivals (including Dundee) provide as much exposure as they are able, it is only once a year, and often in the face of major counter-attractions.
It was the need to fill the gap left by Platform which prompted drummer Bill Kyle and his co-directors to set up the new Scottish Jazz Network. The organisation will aim to promote jazz in the four major Scottish centres, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aderdeen and Dundee, and to provide a touring structure for groups like the John Rae Collective, possibly augmented by visiting guests.
The director will be Ian Middleton, an Aberdonian whose initial contact with jazz came through Platform, but who has since worked in both the subsidised sector, with Jazz Services in London and the Glasgow Jazz Festival, and in the commercial one, with Britain’s leading jazz promotors and management agents, Serious Productions. That combined experience will be invaluable in running the Network.
Ian recognises the difficulties involved in both ‘satisfying the Arts Council that they are getting value for their funding, and at the same time setting up tours which are attractive to the public, but won‘t wipe out our finance in the first season. We have to be realistic in our expectations, especially early on, but I am confident that we can make it work.’
Ian takes up his appointment in January, and as we go to press, the first Network dates have still to be confirmed, but it is possible that Sophie Bancroft (who straddles the divide as both performer and promoter, and is currently holding the fort at the Network) may set something up for early in the New Year. As we move into a new decade, the Network, which Ian sees as complementary to the existing promotors, rather than in competition with them, could fulfil an important role in consolidating and expanding the considerable gains of the 19805. We wish them well.
I EDINBURGH EXHIBITION l Tickets are limited tolour and Trade Centre. lngliston, per person. and remember is to be reawakened lorlive to Include an SAE and 50p music alter a break at many - booking tee pertlcket.
years when Phil Collins I mm m guscow, m, comes 10 10W" 10 Play “'8 rescheduled Hue and Cry only Scottish date on 1 July. date at the sscc on 20 Jan "CNS 8'0 already 0" sale. Is all set to go ahead alter priced £17.50 and £1 5 Irom purune'31g-¢.ylayomo
the Playhouse Theatre Box pm.“ hi; my“. 0mm”va "0'" Ph" evocausr DAVE ELLIS com” 30‘ 01"“ P0 3” (see panel) Is exercising his 77 London 3"“ 93- grult vocals outside ol his
regular band DC Ellis. He’s done a Iorthcoming ‘I’ve Got htine' advert (yes, I know they're excruciating, you know they’re excruciating, but singers gotta work) Ior Tennents, but modestly underplays the achievement. ‘Personally,’ he admits. ‘l woulda picked Tarn White. because he's got the best gruttest voice in town.‘
I PERHAPS INSPIRED by the successful McEwans demo chart in Scotland, a Surrey-based organisation is setting up the UK demo chart. For an entry price at
£12.50, a band will have theirtape judged tor inclusion. and the plan isto have the resulting chart
published in national music papers, thus giving unsigned bands some much-needed publicity. ‘Bite the Wax', to name one show, has altered to teature a selection Irom the Top 20 each month. For turther Inlormation. contact UK Demo Chart, 94 Miles Road, Epsom, Surrey KT 19 9A8. but be warned - they are soon to move oilice.
I POP GOES THE CULTURE! Extending their
artistic pursuits are Craig I "101'" "8010 cancel in
Armstrong at The Big Dish, Britain tor over a decade. who is in the process at ‘When Heep's road crew setting up what I: arrived at the venue on apparently Scotland’s only 3810'“le feeds a perlorrnance art group (can statement. they were
this be true?) and The am. shocked to ilnd Inadequate
Nile, who are writing a cello piece tor Scottish Chamber Orchestra soloist Willie Conway which while have a dance set to it later on.
I VOICES FROM THE DAWN oltime, Uriah Heep. wish It to be known that they are ‘angry and bitter’ about having to pull out at their
gig at Glasgow's Maylair on 2 December- the lirsttime
stage facilities, no power supply and no stage Iightlng.’ Readies attempted to make do with whatthey had, but in the end admitted deleat. The band’s management are now consulting their solicitors about possible legal action over the terms at the contract with promoters Long Island Concerts.
The List 22 December 1989 - 11 January 1990 27