The John Rae Collective, A Day for Scotland, Flowered Up, and Ken Poplowski.
LISTINGS: ROCK 33 JAZZ 36 FOLK 37 CLASSICAL 39
Kenny Mathieson traces the upward flight of the John Rae
The John Rae Collective have come a long way since their first gig at Edinburgh‘s Queen‘s Hall
back in 1987, and although other contenders have ;
arrived on the Scottish jazz scene, they remain the most exciting and innovative jazz group working north of the border.
Earlier this year, I suggested that the Collective
had not only made a significant impression in their own right, but had begun to form the nucleus of a wider, informal grouping of musicians who in turn provided the stimulus to several other promising bands (see List 114). Since then, a number of Scottish musicians have pointed out to me the worrying, as well as the positive, aspects ofthat development; too many bands dependent on the same players, and not enough attention being paid to everybody else. That is fair comment, particularly with regard to the dangers ofsaturation for the players concerned, but the fact remains that the Collective have succeeded not only in forming and keeping together a tight and highly committed unit. but have developed their music in a genuinely exciting ensemble fashion which we have not seen in Scotland for a long time (and possibly never before to this degree ). and have done so without enjoying any special privileges,
financial or otherwise.
‘The whole thing has been a really natural process,‘ said saxophonist and principal composer Phil Bancroft. still jet-lagged after the band‘s return from Canada and immediate plunge into the Glasgow Jazz Festival. ‘Someone — usually me — brings in a tune. and we work out a
way to play it, and that then filters through to the way people play on other things. We used to do very manipulated things in rehearsal just to see how it would work out playing free, for example, but the way the band plays together changes all the time, it‘s never a fixed thing. We can really try
In the course of the past few months. the Collective have been trying quite a lot. For one thing. they recorded their debut album. The Big Imet'les Again, at the highly-regarded Cava studio in Glasgow. a sparkling post-bop collection oforiginal compositions (all but one. guitarist Kevin MacKenzie's ‘The Intrepid Mr Christian'. written by Phil) which should be out later this month on the newly-formed Nuadh Jazz
Earlier this year. the band became the first group to tour Czechoslovakia, which gave them the encouraging experience ‘of meeting a lot of
bands and musicians from all across Europe who were trying to do the same kinds of things as we were, although each in their own way.‘
Part ofthe tour involved a major competition, in which the Collective took second prize overall, and first in the composition category. A nine-date tour ofCanada followed in June, but in slightly unusual circumstances. Phil‘s medical exams meant that he could only fly out for the final two gigs, but the band were able to recruit an able enough deputy in the shape of a certain
‘Everybody knows Tommy is a great player, but the guys were really impressed by the commitment he put into the tour,‘ Phil reported. ‘He has always helped and encouraged us a lot, and I think it was good for us to have him along, because he is really well organised, and we are a bit of a shambles, which I think probably drove him crazy. They even missed a flight once —I don‘t think Tommy has ever missed a ﬂight in his
Smith‘s willingness to stand in is indicative of the level which the Collective have reached; Tommy sets very high standards, and will not slip below them. Both Phil and trumpeter Colin Steele have played with him in the Hue and Cry horn section, and the Collective have recorded two songs with Pat Kane for the next Hue & Cry album (‘it was good discipline for us to have to play to a tight structure, but also try to express our own style within it‘). with a further session currently under discussion.
The Collective - Phil, Colin, Kevin. pianist Brian Kellock, Kenny Ellis on bass and drummer John Rae — will be involved in the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and have a probable Scottish tour lined up for the Autumn, but the first post-Glasgow chance to hear the band comes at the Edinburgh
The John Rae ( 'olleett'i'e play A Day for Scotland on Sat 14 and Edinburgh Jazz ('luh. Tartan Club, 19July, 8.3012171. The Big I f Smiles Again (Nuadh Jazz) is now schedulede a late J uly release.
I DAVID ROGERS, one oi the West Lothian College team behind the remix and re-release at Hot Chocolate's ‘You Sexy Thing', has asked usto inlorm the world that he‘s now working lor Showbiz Artists, a Bigger-based promoterwhich has solar mainly concentrated on putting on acts like the Count Basie Orchestra and
the Bolshoi Ballet, but is now moving into the lield at developing local talent at all levels. This would involve providing
management and advice on
publishing and other legal matters. with a viewto making a record deal. David's work on the nationally respected course could be at great benelltto the maturity ol musicians,
who are still ill-inlormed about the murky waters ol the music business. Write to 5 James Square. Biggar ML12 am.
I BUSY PROMOTER George Dultin olThe Cosmos Agency is moving oilice premises. As ol21 July. tapes, bills and begging letters go to 26a Bellevue Crescent, Edinburgh EH3 GNF (tel: 031-558 3146). He also tells us that, due to yet another change ol ownership, Tennents are again regularly sponsoring Calton Studios- the entire August programme, intact. which includes Goodbye Mr
Mackenzie, Mark Stewart and The Mallia (comprising the lonner Pop Group man plus Tackhead but minus theirsinger Bernard Fowler). Cabaret Voltaire, who announced that they were keen to make a return visitto the venue, and a couple at potentially mouthwatering Edinburgh packages.
I CANCELLATIONS. doncha just hate 'em? Primal Scream had to axe their planned rave (a celebration oltheir discovery ol the joys ol dance) in the Barrowland, pencllled in lor20 July. All-night licences are not
easy commodities to obtain. and they were having trouble setting up English gigs as well. Never mind, they have a new single out on 6 August called ‘Come Together', with the obligatory multi-mixes. . . And the day alter our last issue appeared on the shelves (the one with the big picture at George Clinton in it. remember?), the cancellation ol the lunkmeister's Glasgow data. also atthe Barrowland. was announced. In this case. however. problems with work permits didn't seem to
threaten the English dates. due a couple oldays alterwards.
I TEST DEPARTMENTS worries over the lunding ol their September spectacular ‘The Second Coming', a mammoth affair in the old St Rollox locomotive works in Springburn. have been eased by the news thatthey have been awarded £15,000 lrom the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The awards, the last to be made by the Foundation. are lor ‘large-scale events in unusual places'. so ‘The Second Coming’ certainly qualities.
The List 13—26July 199027