harmonic carpet out for John. and a very ﬂexible one at that. My role was to provide the harmonic colourations. and to be able to keep moving within that. and I don‘t know another piano player who could have done that at the time. People say you were so young. how did you do that. but I was never told what to do by John. other than maybe to suggest I keep moving around the harmonics or whatever. but that was about it. He wasn‘t a dictator. that's for sure.‘
After parting with Coltrane. Tyner pursued a career as bandleader in his own right. recording his classic The Real McCoy for Blue Note in I967. before beginning a lengthy association with Milestone at the end of the decade (the 1972 set Sahara is worth seeking out). Recently. he has renewed the Blue Note connection in a three-album deal of impressive solo (and occasionally duo) recordings. comprising Revelations ( 1989). Things Am 'I What They Used To Be ( 1990). and Soliloquy ( 1992).
‘I‘ve been doing quite a bit ofsolo performance. and it's a nice challenge. an interesting change. I have a trio and also a big band as well. and while the concept is all the same. the context is very different for each. and the way you have to think is also different.
‘It‘s more exposed. maybe. but that's good. because you also have a lot more freedom to do what you want. and to explore the instrument in its entirety. You try to do that anyway. but when you don‘t have anyone else playing certain roles which you have to respond to. it gives you an opportunity to shape things more spontaneously.
‘I choose tunes to play in large part on the basis of the mood of the music. and what I like to do with it is embellish the form. rather than just stick with the melody. I don‘t like to have everything prescribed. and if] want to veer off in a certain direction. then I will do that. The form gives me a point ofdeparture and a point of return. and what happens in the middle is always changing.‘
Apart from playing solo. as he will on this rare Scottish visit. he leads a well-established trio. and has been working in recent years with a big band (a new album. The Turning Point. is due in the spring). and expanding his activities in composition. which he sees in terms of ‘creating new vehicles for my musical developments as they come .about. so that the songs I write tend to echo the particular stage which my playing is at.
‘I look back at old tunes of mine and I can see how they relate. but I also like to take them and re-arrange them a little bit and try new things with them as well. When I look back.
I see a lot ofdifferent points of departure in my music. and a lot of changes in me. It‘s almost like I keep being re-born. and I kind of like that idea of being an infant and learning and then being an infant again and _ learning something new. It keeps life interesting.‘ McCoy Tyner plays at the Queen‘s Hall in Edinburgh on Fri 14.
Celebrating births, deaths, centenaries and other such momentous occasions in the lives of composers seems to be more of a trend now than ever before. Last year it was Mozart, this year it’s Milhaud and Honegger plus the start of the build up to the big one of1993, Tchaikovsky. Given the profusion of performances of works by Scottish composerJames Machllan in mid-February, one would think that 1992 must be some special anniversary for him too. His music is being played the length and breadth of Britain, and in spite of such recognition usually being reserved for dead composers, MacMillan is alive and well, still in his early 30s and it’s not even his birthday.
The label of ‘success story‘ lorthis Ayrshire-born composerwould be an understatement. Since the phenomenal world premiere of ‘The Confession of Isobel Gowdie’ by the BBC $80 at the 1990 Proms, MacMillan has gone from strength to strength. As well as the BSD (oft-criticised forthe paucity of contemporary Scottish music within its main season), the SCO, the Hebrides Ensemble, Napier Polytechnic Wind Band and the Bournemouth Sintonietta have all programmed his music this month, the latter giving a Contemporary Music Network tour throughout England
MacMIllan and life
PETER DEVLIN/BOOSEY & HAWKES
featuring ‘Tryst’. ‘It is,’ says MacMillan, ‘absolutely coincidentai.’ 0f the works to be heard in Edinburgh and Glasgow over the weekend 14-16 February, the first is ‘The Berserking’, a piano concerto written for Peter Donohue, who also performs it this time round, with the R80. ‘It tries to deal with the question of misdirected time and enerov. especially in the Scottish character and the way we seem to spend a lot of time on not terribly important things,’ is how MacMillan describes it, using the analogy of the time when the Scotland football team scored five own goals over eight games. It does not sound as if misdirected energy is a problem Machillan suffers from personally. (Carol Main)
Machllan’s works can be heard from Fri 14—Mon 17, performed by the 880, the 800 and the Hebrides Ensemble. See Classical listings tortull details.
It’s not often you discover greatness on your own doorstep, rarer still to find it shrouded in doubt over its potency. Fenn, recently expanded to a four-piece with the addition of a second guitarist, are a Glaswegian band with aspirations and possibilities beyond the call of a Teenage Fanclub comparison (there isn’t one) and a future so potentially rosy your head will hurtjust to imagine. They sound like a head-on collision between Swervedriver and The Catherine Wheel, but without the farmer’s American influences, ennui and dazed conviction about the romance of the open road orthe latter’s finicky guitar doodling. They used to be called Numb but as drummer Richie explains, ‘We found out that two bands had been having a barney in the States about it, so Sherilyn Fenn was born. I was really wanting to start a band called The Shags.’ (Been done - Ed)
Their name isn’t the only thing they’re discontented with. Gratified but not deluded by the (almost universal)
enthusiasm they inspire, they still feel they’ve strayed far from their original musical intentions which singer and guitarist Luke describes as ‘really hard backbeat, like Front 242 but harder even than that, with warped Butthole-type guitar.’
‘We get bored really quickly,’ says Richie. ‘In our first five rehearsals, we wrote something like twelve songs and we thought, “That’s brilliant, a new band, live rehearsals and twelve new songs”, but out of all that only three have survived in some way. Now we can only play these songs live -we can’t rehearse them or we'll just get ill.
‘Because we're so dissatisfied with the set, we expect to write new songs, and maybe we could but it would be a contrived effort and you don’t want that, not this early on.’
Others have based entire careers on contrivance. ‘Alright, maybe in 30 year’s time— something like Genesis are doing now!’ (Fiona Shepherd)
Fenn play Paisley College on Mon 17.
I Brew Music, management company for The Proclaimers, Better Ways and some as-yet- unheard talent, has
moved out of its office in Greenside (’hub of the Scottish music biz') Place into more modest surroundings. But there‘s no cause for alarm. apparently. ‘lt‘s not that big a deal.‘ says Kenny MacDonald. ’I moved into these premises the week The Proclaimers played their last gig- Glastonbury 1989- to cope with all the work. Due to the way they have approached the writing of their next album. it won‘t be coming out until later this year and, as a businessman, I don't want to lose money taking on premises 1 don‘t need. I don't have the work to justify it. I should have moved last year, but lwas involved with other projects, like trying to get a record label off the ground, which didn't happen because nobody would lend me half a million pounds. However, I visualise a hell of a lot of work in the last four months of this year. By the time the third Proclaimers album comes out, we‘ll be using whatever facilities are
I Henry Rollins the tattooed love god of American hardcore — he got the job of singing for top Stateside punks Black Flag by invading the stage and grabbing the microphone and now fronts the bone-crunching Rollins Band - has more than one arrow to his quiver. As well as being a published author, whose books are available on the publishing arm of the Creation empire, he is now embarking on a new career as a stand-up comic. The results can be experienced on 9 March at Glasgow’s Riverside (the night before The Rollins Band support The Red Hot Chili Peppers at Barrowland), and are sure to be . . . er, confrontational. And while we're on the subject of contemporary literary giants. could that have been NME‘s top pen-pusher Steven Wells. hilarious leftie-activist skinhead poet, we saw fending off hordes of admirers at the Manic Street Preachers‘ Music Box gig? Wasn't he looking smart?
The List 14—27 February 1992 29