I i i



I The Blue Aeroplanes: Jacket Hangs (Ensign) Long regarded as the best thing happening in Bristol. the 'I’lancs show here the qualities that carried them around the world with RliM last year. 'l‘welve-string rock with somewhat oblique lyrical tendencies. they none the less give a spirited showing. with a style hovering somewhere between (ieorgia. Bristol and New Zealand. (A M)

I Brian Kennedy: Captured

(RCA) Sensitive chappy.

this Brian. and he doesn't

do songs that would upset the cat or the neighbours.

Restful and restrained. but pleasant. livening up in the chanter break —- a

wonderful innovation.

which should be sampled as widely as possible. Ile's playing (ilasgow this fortnight. so study the listings. (AM)

I Cumbia Cumbia: La Collegia (Ariola) Maybe I've seen too many crappy

(iils‘ movies on tow hich the most facile form of

salsa was ineptly dubbed for 'local colour'. but this is the sort of thingthat strengthened my initial reluctance to listen to this style of music. Really. there's better on various

World Music labels than this. (AM)

I Lenny Kravitz: I Build This Garden For Us (Virgin America) l le‘s at it again! It ‘s an A [they Road outtach Ask him to Use a steam-powered four-track like The Beatles did. though. and he may jtist shit himself. (AM)

I The Almighty: The Power

5? (Polydor) Are The Almighty misogynists'.’ Are The Almighty any

good‘.’ Are The Almighty

the inheritors of a particularly crap tradition of foul rock music‘.’ The answers to all these questions. and more. are found within these grooves. But here's a wee clue anyway: Undoubtedly. Occasionally. Unfortunately. ((‘McIJ


ES '


26 The List 9 22 Februarv 1990


( v JAZZ

. .‘ aka“.

John Rae Collective

Jazz Corps

l Kenny Mathieson

l examines the growth ofan i exciting collective approach to creating new

I jazzin Scotland.


j The idea ofa collective of musicians

( is nothing new in jazz. whether an

i informal grouping like that which

i gathered at Minton‘s Playhouse in

f New York in the 19403. and

collectively gave birth to bebop. or

- more formally identified organisations like the Association for the Advancement ofCreative

5 Musicians in Chicago or the Black

; Artists Group in St Louis. both of

i which fed the advance of

experimentaljazzin the I970s.

When the John Rae Collective

convened for their first ever concert

back in the autumn of 1987. I wrote

at the time that the band ‘suggested

scope for real individual and collective development.‘ While that suggestion has been triumphantly vindicated. it was not as easy to

"..;...ue“-’ -. .. »-~- . predict the wider ramifications of the sextet‘s emergence.

The Collective have gone from strength to strength in the last two years, establishing themselves as the best contemporary jazz band on the Scottish scene. and making a series of highly impressive raids south of the border last summer. gathering up a clutch of sparkling reviews in the process.

Word gets around quickly: at the Outside In Festival at Crawley, the band opened their set in the studio to a quarter-full room; by the end of their second tune, you couldn‘t get in the door. Their first album, due from Iona Records in the spring, is as eagerly awaited as Tommy Smith’s second recording for Blue Note, cut in Oslo last month and due out around the same time, and in March the group will become the first Western musicians to play in Czechoslovakia (courtesy of the British Council) since the recent political revolution.

Even more interestingly. though, the emergence of the band has gone

hand in hand with a wider manifestation of the collective idea. The six members of the group now form the core of two other units, both emerging as equally fascinating additions to the Scottish jazz scene. Whether intentionally or not, the John Rae Collective is already stretching into something more like the pool of musicians which fuelled the AACM and similar


The comparison should not be taken too literally, or too far. but the development is arguably the most exciting to hit Scottish jazz since the- emergence ofTommy Smith as a major player in the international game. Drummer Bill Kyle has been experimenting with a band drawing on a pool of different musicians (including most of those cited here) for sometime. but the current developments are now moving a step beyond that concept.

Consider: the John Rae Collective features John on drums, Kenny Ellis on bass, Brian Kellock on piano. Kevin Mackenzie on guitar. Colin Steele on trumpet. and Phil Bancroft on saxophone (Phil is also emerging as the group’s principal writer).

Next up came Phil’s twin brother, drummer Tom Bancroft. His Orange Ear Ensemble. an eight-piece group with an exuberant, free-ranging. Mingus-like musical conception. recruited four of the six Collective members— Phil. Colin. Kevin and Kenny— to their ranks.

Then, singer Melanie O'Reilly put together her Watch What Happens outfit, with Colin Steele on trumpet and John Rae on drums. plus John‘s brother Ronnie Jr on keyboards. and his other regular bass partner. Brian

Shiels. The band will. Melanie feels. allow her to develop ‘a more modern sound, but will still be very accessible‘. while allowing ‘scope for developing original material'.