Band. Formed in 1964 by a group of enthusiastic musicians in Copenhagen as the New Radio Dance Band, they progressed under the inﬂuence of conductors like Ray Pitts, Ole Kock Hansen, and Palle Mikkelborg, who composed their 1985 project with Miles Davis, Aura, which was ﬁnally released by CBS in 1989.
The influence of Jones, though, who died in 1986, has been most inﬂuential in moulding the band into the impressively disciplined, hugely imaginative outﬁt they are today, although their Stan Kenton-ish instrumental line-up (five trumpets, ﬁve trombones, ﬁve reeds and a ﬁve-piece rhythm section) dates from the infatuation of their first leader with Kenton’s music.
The Danish Radio Big Band are not one of those big bands who look upon their music as a ﬁxed historical entity. They place a high priority on the quality of their improvisation as well as their innovative arrangements. Manager Niels Christensen, who previously ran the famous Montmartre club in Copenhagen, revealed that the band currently have over 2000 charts in
their book, many of which they commissioned.
‘I think they will be concentrating on the kind of big band music which is represented by Thad Jones, however, because that is where their heart is,’ Christensen says. ‘It is difﬁcult to play and to get it to sound
right, because it has to be open, and the band have to be open to it.’
The band draws its personnel from the cream of Scandinavian jazz players, often under a guest conductor. For this ﬁve-date Scottish tour, they will be led by veteran American expatriate Ernie Wilkins, a composer, arranger and saxophonist who has worked with the likes of Count Basie, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Dorsey and Cannonball Adderley.
The band operate what Christensen calls ‘a democratic structure’ when it comes to selecting material for their tours, a process which can even go on ‘in the interval between sets’. Alastair Robertson, who is co-promoting these concerts, recorded the band for his Edinburgh-based HEP label; the results can be heard on the Crackdown release.
While the band always welcome visitors, their presence in the Queen‘s Hall in Edinburgh also signals the disappointing absence of Assembly Direct’s Friday night jazz programme for the opening quarter of the year. The Ferguson Jazz season which ended in December had its share of artistic successes, and attracted healthy audiences after a slow start, but that momentum will now be lost again.
While Roger Spence recognises the disadvantages of their current one-season-on, one-season-off rotation, he denies any lessening of
Danish Radio Big Band commitment on the part of Assembly Direct to promoting jazz in Scotland. Now that the bulk ofthe Scottish Arts Council‘s still-inadequate provision for jazz goes to the Scottish Jazz Network, Assembly are concentrating on bringing major business sponsors like Ferguson and TDK, who have already confirmed their continuing commitment to the Round Midnight Festival, into jazz.
‘We have very ambitious plans for 1991 and 1992,’ Spence confirms, ‘and the decision not to go ahead with a season in the early part of the year was largely to give us breathing space to work on those plans. I can’t reveal any names at this stage, but we are looking to bring in some very big names indeed later in the year.‘
The Scottish Jazz Network, meanwhile, have three tours lined up for the first quarter, beginning with the Jim Mullen Quartet previewed elsewhere in this issue. In February, Glaswegian pianist Chick Lyall will tour with a double bill featuring his quartet, and the duo with Norwegian saxophonist Tore Brunborg recorded on The Tilting Ground (Watercourse), while sax0phonist Iain Ballamy will bring his Balloon Man quartet north in early March. The Danish Radio Big Band play in Aberdeen on January 14, In verness on January 15, East Kilbride on
January 16, Glasgow on January 17 and Edinburgh on January 18. See Listings for details.
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I Power oi Dreams: American Dream (Polydor) Only one album in to their still embryonic career,
and already Power of Dreams have found their own niche in the Irish rock market — with a pneumatic drill rather than a chisel. This particular chunk of ‘America. we don‘t like you much‘ snaps neatly out of the mould — understated verse marking time before the barnstorming chorus steamrollers past propelled by all-over- the-place drumming and capped by the lyrical challenge ‘ls this what you want? Is this what you need?‘ The pace builds and builds and builds . . . then they remember to slam on the brakes. (FS) I Jellyfish: The King is Hall-Undressed (Charisma) One of the hazards ofthis job is that you come across people who dress as hideously as Jellyfish. No. No one could dress as hideously as Jellyfish, so keep the sleeve well-hidden while the disc is spinning. Like their wardrobe mistress, Jellyﬁsh bung a load of neo-psychedclia — and the E.L.O. (Queen?) harmonising break two- thirds of the way takes things a wee bit far —on top of something rather ordinary. A tarted-up Squeeze, anyone? Not unpleasant for all that.
I Father Fathom What in Soul (60! Discs) This debut release from London- based duo Father Fatheris obviously calculated as a get-to-know-the- stunning-voice gambit because it comes acrossas more of a vocal exercise than a song, and even regarded in those terms they‘re pushing their luck as much as the listener‘s patience. Vocalist Jonti undeniably has a great technical ability, which you‘d better not forget for a minute matey, but about as much true spirit as a slug on valium. This is gutless and dreary beyond belief. What is a soul? They may well ask. (FS)
The List 11— 24 January 1991 35