Tom Bancroft‘s anarchic. Mingus-influenced Orange Ear Ensemble have been somewhat overshadowed by the high-profile John Rae Collective. but they remain one of the most interesting and innovative groups to have emerged on the Scottish scene. The eight-piece outfit. which will feature in the Oueensferry Jazz Festival on Saturday 9. incorporates four Collective members in the regular line-up. including Tom‘s twin brother. Phil.
That Scottish line-up is only one manifestation ofthe band. as the contributions from Canadian and London-based versions on his self-produced cassette The Technocratic Future 0 f the Universal Betty demonstrates (they are great ones for bizarre titles. the Bancrofts, Phil has just come up with The Big If Smiles Again for the (.‘ollective‘s debut recording!) The band provides a vehicle for the drummer‘s inventive. idiosyncratic writing and arrangements. as well as a fiery blowing opportunity for the front—line improvisers.
His next project. an experimental big band. will combine the Scottish and London players in a single unit. The postponement of a planned debut in Edinburgh at the beginning ofJune means that the new outfit will make its debut in the Glasgow Jazz Festival. but the process ofputting it together has not been easy.
‘We basically had two months of hell.’ Tom confirms. ‘The commitments of the Collective caused a lot ofproblems. because they make up the heart ofthe band. We then had to persuade Jim Smith to put us on in the Glasgow Jazz Festival — Jim liked the idea, but already had several big bands. and it took a while to convince him. Then. when he finally agreed to do the gig. the concert we thought was set for Edinburgh in June was postponed until August.‘
The Big Band will play two gigs during the Glasgow Festival. with local schoolkids on 6 July. and 8 July. while Orange Ear Ensemble will feature on 3 and 5 July. All of these gigs will include contributions from ‘some players from London. who play a little more freely than most of the Scottish guys. and I'm hoping that will include Claude Deppa on trumpet and Rick Taylor on trombone.‘ (Kenny Mathieson) Orange liar Ensemble. Queensferry Arms Hotel, QJune, 5.30pm.
um:- Shrewd up
Upon James’ first appearance in 1983, they were heralded rather prematurely as the ‘next big thing’. The band moved from Factory to Sire in 1985, and recorded two albums (‘Stutter’ and ‘Strip-Mine’) forthe American giants before a mutual separation ended the relationship.
In 1990 they are back with a new label, Fontana, and the single, ‘How Was it forYou?’, is in the charts.
. Carried along on the wave of
Manchester euphoria, their music is thanktully quite unlike any of their contemporaries. While the previous single, ’Come Home’, flirted with the dancefloor, with ‘How Was it for You?’, the emphasis is very much on the guitars — hard and aggressive, more Rolling Stones than Funkadelic. So what then of the forthcoming album, ‘Gold Mother"?
‘Brilliant. What do you expect? It's rawer and more direct. From
nine-minute dance tracks to six-minute
ballads to three-minute rock-outs.’
Singer Tim Booth’s modesty is matched only by his lyrics. Intelligent, but never too clever, political, but never preaching. Not simply a decoration, they actually mean something.
I... t g ’ 'i i . ‘The last time we were in Edinburgh, the crowd wouldn’t let us carry on after ’Promised Land’ (an unequivocal attack on Thatcher and her Government). It was very moving.
. Larry, our guitarist, was crying. That’s
the thing about this Government; it’s nothing to do with left or right, they’re just corrupt.’
Understandably, Tim is concerned with the beloved poll tax, and the decision whether or not to pay.
‘I haven’t decided yet. ldon’twant to and I can’t afford to, but in Oldham 98 per cent are paying. I wouldn’t it I was living in Glasgow where there are all
the organisations to help. I don’t think that’s a cop-out, I believe in protest as long as it’s shrewd . . . using the media like Greenpeace.’ (James Haliburton) James play the Barrowland, Glasgow on Tue 5.
The Forth Bridge Jazz Festival in Oueensferry on Saturday 9 provides an excellent showcase for the current Scottish jazz scene, and should cater for all tastes in the process. The action takes place in six venues split over both sides of the river, with a special ferry service laid on from the Hawes Pier.
Traditionalists can choose from Al Fairweather, Fionna Duncan, and the Dixieland and ragtime merchants congregated in the Albert Hotel, while those of a more modernist inclination can swither between the Stagshead Hotel (Chick Lyall, John Hae Collective, Watch What Happens) and the Oueensferry Arms Hotel (Nigel Clark and Graham Dufiin, Orange Ear Ensemble). Apart from the Riverboat Shuffle on the Maid of the Forth (£5), all events are free; see listings torfull details.
The Dundee Jazz Festival runs from 2—9 June this year, but has been hit by
a late cancellation from American bluesman Lurrle Bell, who was to have been the closing night attraction. The Norman Beaker Band and Paul Lamb and the Klngsnakes will now share the honours (Dundee Rep, Sat 9). Other highlights include Watch What Happens at Sessions (Tue 5), Bonnie Scott at the Rep (Fri 8), and the unusual combination of pianist Oliver Jones and guitarist Barney Kessell at the Hep on Wed 6. Full details from Rep Box Office (0382 23530).
Barney Kessell will also feature in concerts at the Queen’s Hall In Edinburgh on Fri 1, and the Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow on Sun 3 (see Listings), alongside fellow guitarists Charlie Byrd and, from rather closerto home, Martin Taylor. Bassman Spike Heatley and drummer John Wadham provide the rhythms for this fascinating guitar showcase. (Kenny Mathieson)
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INDIAN ROPE TRICK
The arrival ofthe new Charlatans single, The Only One 1 Know‘, cheered me up no end. as] had bought their excellent debut single ‘lndian Ropc' in March. attempted an interview with mumbling singer Tim on the eve of their first Scottish gig. and was thrilled by the performance on the night. The next morning. I was amazed to hear it on the Simon Mayo Breakfast Show and even more amazed to learn that it was his single ofthe week. Laterthat same day, lwas browsing in HMV and what should come on the in-store video? and who had a full-page feature when i bought my copy of the NME'? You guessed it, so it looks like we can expect more pudding bowl haircuts and ﬂares on ‘Top of the Pops'.
Justified attention and praise. or more scally hype by the media forthe poor man‘s Stone Roses? Well. their sound isn't amazingly innovative (groovy indie guitar funk/pop), Tim could be auditioning for the part of Ian Brown in ‘Stone Roses: The Movie‘ — and isn’t that a Hammond organ I hear? — but it's still coated in their own grubby charm. Bands like The Charlatans are the obvious beneficiaries from the Manchester Sound Revolution. and all too easy targets for copycat criticism. What they are is part ofa new breed of talented bands in the North of England (even the South in the case of Flowered Up) latching onto a massive vibe and moulding it to suit their own needs. People seem to be grudging them their success only because they‘ve had it so easy.
This fortnight, The Charlatans make a quick return to Glasgow after their sell-out gig at King Tut‘s Wah Wah Hut in March. The whole audience was mesmerised right from the start (by crooner Tim in particular) and the evening
culminated in an impromptu freaky-dancing maracca-waving stage invasion. Same again please. (Colin Steven) The Charlatans play
The Mayfair. Glasgow. on Fri 8.
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