Sacrament of Ordination
One would normally associate portraits and paintings with the visual arts, but proving that neither belongs exclusively to that world is the concert of music on 2 March at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh.
Maintaining their reputation for bold programming, Edinburgh Contemporary Arts‘l‘ rust present the second in their series of portrait concerts, the successful formula of focusingon the life and work ofone composer over the course of an evening, being applied to the prolific Edinburgh composer, John McLeod. One of Scotland’s most noted composers, his work has been performed and recorded internationally by many leading orchestras and soloists, with a string of important commissions and prestigious awards to his name.
Primarily a place of worship, Greyfriars, with its fine acoustic and flexible seating arrangements, is becoming increasingly used as a concert venue and on this occasion comes into its own because of its new organ, which features in the premiere of McLeod’s The Seven Sacraments ofPoussin. Held by the National Gallery ofScotland, these famous paintings will be projected throughout the performance, which will be given by organist Philip Sawyer, commissioner of the work.
’It is, of course, impossible,‘ explains McLeod, ’for a piece of music to convey the exact pictorial image ofa painting. What I have tried to do is simply create a musical representation ofthese remarkable pictures through their colour, content, shapes and atmosphere.‘ The spiritual theme running through the concert gives another reason for the choice ofGreyfriars as a venue. The first part of the concert deals with oppression through imprisonment, with soprano Jane Manning. Part two examines love through marriage, and the third part, when the new organ piece will be heard, deals with salvation through the sacraments. (Carol Main) The John McLeod Portrait Concert is at Greyfriars Church on Mon 2.
Detail from Poussin's
um- Word up
‘Everything I do serves basically the same purpose,’ Rollins tells me, ‘which is to externalise: to get what’s inside outside.’
Henry Rollins is a words man who seems to have too much respect for the raw materials of his trade to squander more than is necessary on interviews. His answers are brief and unadorned, but for a dozen years words have gushed out of him in a hydrant-like jet— too many to be contained in one medium.
Firstly, with seminal American punk/hardcore band Black Flag, and now with The Rollins Band, he has kept up a steady flow of songs and on the new LP, “The End 0t Silence’, took great pains to enunciate every line as clearly as possible. Writing throwaway verses just to get a finished vocal ‘would be like sacrilege’.
Since 1983, in parallel with his musical career, he’s been putting on his one-man shows, in which he recounts ‘a lot of stuff that’s happened to me, through the years, very currently, whatever. . . A lot of it’s pretty funny. Put me in front of a mike fortoo long, someone’ll start laughing somehow.’
His creative zeal is evidently inexhaustible; a query about his printed works is met with ‘Oh yeah, I’ve just had a book come out two days ago: “Black Coffee Blues". I’ve been doing books for years. ldon’t know how many
I’ve done at this point.
‘l’ve done a couple of iilms,’ he reveals, again with a Renaissance Man’s dismissiveness, ‘but I haven’t been able to work on that the way I’d like to.’
So what do we call him? His passport says ‘musician’, but Rollins himself is more concerned about getting to the stage on time than worrying about titles.
‘The way I feel about it now is that by doing this and the music and the writing, l leel complete. Nothing is lacking.’ World, beware.
The Spoken Word Show is on atThe Riverside, Glasgow on Mon 9 and The Rollins Band support The Red Hot Chili Peppers atThe Barrowland, Glasgow on Tue 10.
I am:- Oer a barrel
And the solidification continues. 0n the dancelloor, the bpms are revving up to hyper-speed, synthesised mayhem with its own enigmatic dynamic. 0n the cave-floorthe hairies are trashing their instruments, pishing on their paymasters’ desks, and re-energising that metally war-horse that was buried in the knackers’ yard just atterthe last Del Leppard album. Yep, hardness and solidness abound in early ’92.
Now, atterthe ubiquity of the Seattle sound and the LA sound, where better
7 than Glasgow-the original hard man’s tough joint (apparently) -to find more
shiny metal shavings? Gun might adhere fixedly to the muscular,
anthemic linearity oi Brit-metal, throwing less sucker punches than your Nirvanas and your Pearl Jams, but the ascension of the latter two has surely primed the marketplace for the re-
emergence oi the Glaswegian rockers.
‘l’d like to think so,’ agrees vocalist Mark Rankine, beiore rightly body-swervlng any over-zealous comparisons with the new school of Stateside chord-crunchers. Yet similarity in ethics abound. ‘These bands first and foremost are working bands, their whole career is not built on being hip. They’re just live bands who go out and play and then suddenly people are turning onto them.’
And, just occasionally, they go out and play with the Rolling Stones. But, while landing the support on the 1990 ‘Urban Jungle’ tour may have booted Gun’s international profile, it also dizzied some heads. Rankine admits that ‘we did struggle to write songs. Alter the Stones thing everyone was really fucked, our heads were really knackered. It’s hard to adjust back to normal lile.’ Hence the departure of guitarist Baby Stafford and drummer Scott Shields, the supposed auditioning of 100 new drummers, the eventual return of Shields, and the three-year gap between albums. But now they’re back on an even keel with a new album — ‘Gallus’ — recorded in Glasgow and fine-tuned by the Pixies’ engineer. ‘We wanted to make this record a lot harder,’ says Rankine, and
a million hairies mosh madly in assent.
Gun play Calton Studios, Edinburgh on Sat 29 and The Mayfair, Glasgow on Sun1.
Howard Alden is not exactly what you would call a household name, even in jazz circles. but the kind of music he plays is not designed to draw attention to itself in that way. Like his cohorts Warren Vache, Scott Hamilton, Dan Barrett and Ken Peplowski, Alden has eschewed contemporary idioms and passing fashions for the verities ofmainstream swing.
The guitarist has no
interest in branching out ‘ into new techniquesor
sounds. but prefers to concentrate his energies and considerable expertise on coaxing as sweetly rounded a sound as possible from the instrument, and on making certain that his
. phrasing and rhythms are
compatible with the kind of well-established jazz practices he has demonstrated in the company ofthe likes of Buck Clayton, Wild Bill Davison, or Ruby Braff. Alden‘s philosophy is ’play quietly. play in tune, and swing.‘ and he has little interest in playing music which lies outside that mainstream vein. Even as a teenager. Alden recalls that his playing preference ’was for jazz. 1 never was that interested in playing country music, rock. or anything else.‘ Alden has won admirers in his visits to the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in the past, and records for that doycn ofmainstream jazz labels, Concord Jazz. His quintet with trombonist Dan Barrett is on-going, and the guitarist also leads his own trio. His tasteful, finely-honed harmonic sense is not likely to push him up there with the McLaughlin‘s and Scofield's ofthe jazz guitar world, but his playing remains a constant — and under-valued — pleasure. (Kenny Mathieson) Howard A (den plays at the Society of Musicians in Glasgow on Sun I.
28 The List 28 February — 12 March 1992