Head start

k l. '1: The first of Scottish Opera‘s special season of productions by innovative theatre directors from Europe opens on Wednesday 25 with Frenchman Andre Engel‘s version of Richard Strauss‘s Salome, a co-production with Welsh National Opera. This time round. there’s a new cast. and not only does Engel make his British debut with Salome. so does the American soprano Cynthia Makris. who takes the title role. It‘s a part she has sung on numerous occasions. including a punk production in Dortmund and at the Berlin Staatsoper earlier this year. Given Salome‘s record. it seems at first surprising that it is a role Makris will happily admit to identifying with.

‘It does sound a little strange. perhaps. but it‘s much more interesting to do roles which are problematic‘. she says. ‘and this one absolutely gets under your skin. The music is so very. very strong and. of course. so is the Oscar Wilde text.‘

Also important to Makris is the fact that Salome is a character with great relevance to today. ‘Okay. she does a horrible thing. but people are capable of doing really horrible things. and I think it‘s very easy to see how a mind. particularly a young person‘s mind. can snap.‘ Not only is Makris very happy to be making her British debut in Glagow. but she's also thrilled to be working with Engel. ‘This production is actually the purest production of Salome I‘ve ever done. It's a very. very nice way

that he works— from the inside out and really lets the characters develop. Nothing is pasted on. and he catches every move that looks fake.‘ One would hope that such aims for realism might stop short at John the Baptist‘s head. (Carol Main)

Scottish Opera '5 Salome is performed at the Theatre Royal. (ilasgow on 25. 28 Apr. 1/. 24, 29 May. and at the Playhouse Theatre, [idinburgh on 28 Jun.





New kids on the bloc

Forget about Manchester (or Glasgow, come to that). The next hip British city will be Edinburgh—that is, if the newly-inaugurated Eastern Bloc co-operative has anything to do with it.

Formed under the auspices of Brian Guthrie and Will Reggie from the Grangemouth-based Nightshift Records and Distribution, the co-op embraces 25 local bands, including The Matter Babies, Vatican Shotgun Scare, The Radium Cats and a host of others who have nearly all played at the Basin Street venue on Haymarket Terrace.

Pointing to ‘a degree of co-operation not apparent in other cities’, Guthrie speaks of a resurgence of creativity in the city that he and Reggie noticed when Basin Street opened as a rock venue. ‘There is not an Edinburgh sound,’ he says, proudly. ‘There are bands to suit all tastes up here.’ Not only was the standard of hands a lot higher than expected, but ‘they were all talking to each other through the venuefi

An association seemed to be the natural conclusion, its main aims being for bands to pool resources (equipment and vans, sharing gigs) and increase the profile of the Edinburgh music scene. One of the first

tasks is to set up a trust fund which would make money available for . members who need money to record, orlor other purposes. Eastern Bloc would help bands with legal problems, and intervene on musicians’ behalf when there are disputes with promoters or anyone else who might be taking advantage of their inexperience. Because there is a record shop called Eastern Bloc, which has been in the I news following obscenity i prosecutions, the name may be I l

changed to avoid confusion. (Alastair Mabbott)


‘Gotto getthrough,gotto getthroughfo '

you, with a quiet mind and inspiration,‘

A diamond voice sways onward, breathing the words. Up swells a multitudinous host of vocal harmonies, a heavenly attraction, a chorus of excitement and, verily, spirituality.

. This is Ruby Blue, this is their single

‘The Quiet Mind', and this is a glowing

7 track ofgospel glory.


‘Gospel? I’m glad you said that,’ says Roger Fife, guitarist and bassist. ‘because nobody else has. When we were recording it I said to the producer, let’s do it like a gospel record. And that big chorus is just us four singing.’ The four are Roger and fellow Edinburgh person Rebecca Pidgeon on lead vocals, multi~instrumentalist Anthony Quote, and backing vocalist Erika Coote. As Ruby Blue they’ve already

' released five singles and one album, . Glances Askances in 1987. ‘That’s

actually on an indie label (Red Flame)

‘j so it sounds like an indie album. This

new one’s more . . . polished.’ And as a side interest, Rebecca and Erika, both


drama graduates from RADA, also found time to tread the boards in several plays and films.

Now signed to Phonogram, Ruby Blue are full-time music maestros. Their new album is completed and ready for release, and an imminent tour has forced the band to brush up on all those important wee things, like singing: ‘We’re not bad at singing actually,’ says Roger, which is a relief, ‘because we've been practising. “The Quiet ; Mind” won't sound so mega, because that would take 40 people. It’s more kind ofminimalist.‘

‘The Quiet Mind' is what Roger calls . ‘qulrky’, which could see it nestling in the charts despite itself alongside E | Zee Posse and Bizz Nizz and other bands who can'tspell. ‘lthink if we were writing with the charts in mind I I don’tthink we’d have released “The , QuietMind”,that’sforsure!’

Hah, modestchap. Ruby Blue are 5 very probably too good lorthe charts. l (Craig McLean) I


ART or suevivtu

xi; The Dutch Swing College Band have several claims to fame. not the least of which is that they are the longest surviving jazz group in Europe. with an unbroken history which goes all the way back to 5 May 1945. when clarinetist and saxophonist Peter Schilperoort brought together a group of like-minded musicians to play Dixieland jazz.

That like-mindedness was not only musical. This was German-occupied Holland. where jazz was a dangerous symbol of revolution (check out Mike Zwerin's informative book ’La Tristesse de Saint Louis‘ for an account ofjazz under the Nazis). and the band‘s members all supported the Dutch resistance. The group itselfgrew out ofa clandestine music school held in a sound-proofed cellar.

The band visit Edinburgh on their 45th Anniversary tour. and. remarkably. Peter Schilperoort. who was knighted for his services to music. by Queen Juliana. still leads them. having returned recently to the ranks following an illness. The DSCB reached their musical peak in the 19705. often working with excellent American musicians. but their standards have remained remarkably high throughout their lengthy existence.

Another Dutch jazz outfit who draw-their inspiration from early American forms. only this time even further back than the DSCB. will headline the Bute Jazz Festival over the weekend of 4—6 May. The Freetime ()ld Dixie Jass Band cling to the original. short-lived spelling. thereby aligning themselves with the pre- 1920s era. and doubtless consider the DSCB to be impertinent newcomers. They went down very well in this Festival last year. and head a strong programme of traditional styles. leavened by the likes of Martin Taylor and Bobby Wishart. (‘ontact Bute Jazz Festival. Shalunt. Isle of Bute. PAlellOl. for details. (Kenny Mathieson)

I )uu'h Swing ( 'ol/ege Band. Queen '3' Hall. Edinburgh. 27Apr, 8. 30pm.

32 The List 20 April - 3 May 1990