V CLASSICAL I Premiere
There are tales — both apocryphal and true — ofcomposers finishing works so close to their deadline that the ink is still drying on the page in performance. After a commission from Sir Yehudi Menuhin in 1972. the ink of Ronald Stevenson‘s Violin Concerto is well and truly dry. but why is the Mayfest performance its first when the work was completed 13 years ago?
‘I played it through for Menuhin in 1979, on the piano, in the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh‘ says Stevenson, ‘and at the end he said. “I shall perform it.“ ‘Menuhin then suggested the concerto to the Edinburgh Festival, but it was turned down. ‘It couldn’t have been because of box office,‘ says Stevenson, ‘because Menuhin will attract people whatever, but that kind of bureaucracy has no need to give a reason for refusals. My own feeling is it was to do with fashion — and thank God I’ve never been in fashion and have no intention of being.‘
Other plans did not work out either and so the concerto remained unplayed. Fashions change. of course, and. somewhat ironically. folk music ofdifferent cultures. from which the concerto (subtitled ‘The Gypsy’) draws its inspiration. is enjoying a revival of interest now. ‘The work dawns in the east with an evocation of the sitar and sets in the west,‘ says Stevenson. In between comes a huge variety of different music and styles — Hindu, Spanish, Belgian and the Viennese/Jewish style of Fritz Kreisler are just some — and culminates in a strathspey, reel and jig. In a neat circle of personalities, the first performance of the concerto will be given by the acclaimed Chinese violinist. Hu Kun, a pupil of Menuhin‘s. who in turn was a pupil of Georges Enesco. to whom the work is dedicated ‘and whose life‘. says Stevenson. ‘was symbolic of the western migration of violin/folk fiddle.’ (Carol Main) Ronald Stevenson's Violin Concerto is performed by the BBC $30 at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on
14 The List 8—21 May 1992
Fresh fusion 9
After years of playing with allegedly progressive rock bands like King Crimson (fair enough) and Yes (ummm), drummer Bill Bruford formed f his state of the art fusion outfit
Earthworks in 1986 as ’a deliberate move toward the intelligence of jazz’. The initial critical reaction was good, and the band have built on that foundation with three successful albums for ED.
Bruford's jazz connections were hardly new when he put the band together, it must be said. His earlier . eponymous quartet, which featured , guitar maestro Allan Holdsworth, was very much in a fusion mode, and he has ; played and recorded with the likes of 5 Jeff Berlin, Al Di Meola, Jamaaladeen : Tacuma and David Torn.
Earthworks reflects that
preoccupation with bringing together
1 elements from both jazz and rock in a
? synthetic fashion, but manages the not
Bill Bruford's Earthworks
inconsiderable feat of largely avoiding the self-defeating pitfalls of mainstream fusion, surely the most worn of jazz’s hard-worn genres.
The fresh and fertile music which Earthworks make is due in no small partto the drummer's judicious choice of partners. Rather than turn to fellow veterans otthe fusion or progressive-rock scene, Bruford recruited two of the most imaginative voices then emerging among the new young jazz players, saxophonist lain Ballamy and keyboard whizz Django Bates. Both have brought their distinctive musical personalities along with their instrumental expertise to the band, while bass playerTim Harries has proved an able replacement for original member Mick Hutton, who is currently working with Tommy Smith. (Kenny Mathieson)
Bill Bruford’s Earthworks play The Tramway on Sun 17.
iNone more black
For someone who is so well known in Ireland and the USA, it comes as a surprise to hearthat Mary Black completed her first British tour only last year—first tour solo, that is, with her ; own group. T ‘The band’s been touryears in this ' line-up, and the sound is essentially ' acoustic. There is electric guitar and ' synth, but it’s a double bass and j percussion rather than a drum kit, and the other instruments are sax, fiddle and accordion.’
Mary’s father, who could knock a tune 3 out of a few instruments, was from i Bathlin Island off the Antrim coast, the ; shortest of sea crossings from 5 Scotland. Brought up in a singing 3 family of three brothers and a sister in ! Dublin, young Mary enjoyed every sort l of popular music, then got caught up in l the folk boom of the 70s when little 5 clubs and pub venues sprang up all :‘ overthe city.
‘Being in De Danaan was a great move for me. I was with the group for three years, from ’83 to ’86. It was a great opportunity to travel, go on the l road, especially in the States and 2 Europe. l gained a lot, learned a lot, but lhad to give it up when my solo work ! started to demand so much of my time.’
Her latest album, ‘Babes In The
Wood’ is on Grapevine, who are also
re-releasing ’No Frontiers’. Tokyo's King Records are negociating the release of one of her albums and a tour of Japan looks likely to follow her seventh American tour in September.
As her fans know, Mary Black’s beautiful voice charts a musical territory roughly bounded by country, folk Irish and pop singer/songwriter.
‘l was neverwholly immersed in traditional music, although I would never turn my back on it. But my favourite singers are people like Bonnie Baift, Aretha Franklin, and Annie Lennox. And I’ve always listened to Billy Holliday, although I’m not overlyfond ofjazz.’
Channel 4’s film of her live at the Albert Hall will be screened within the next few weeks, but see her live at the SECC during Mayfest. (Norman Chalmers) I Mary Black plays the SECC on Thurs 14. l
l v CAJUN
(‘ajun music is heard frequently in Britain. courtesy of a number of bands like The Balham l Alligators. R(‘ajun and. ' in Scotland. the long-lived 1 Deal 1 leights (‘ajun Aces. l The Aly Burn Meets The f t ‘a/uns TV series brought l the atmosphere of the Louisiana French to our screens. But real live eajun players don't make it here too often. so let‘s celebrate the arrival of aecordionist and singer liddiele Jeune.with i celebrated singer/guitarist l).l.. Menard and champion fiddler Ken Smith. lry l.e qune. Eddie‘s : father. was a great singer and the leading accordionist through the pre-war days when the culture was in danger of ' beingextinguished.
‘My father would put all of his life into his songs. The way you feel comes out in the song. And you would improvise. People couldn‘t write. so songs would be made up. and remembered. And that‘s still what makes acajun song. That strong feeling that comes straight from the heart.’
Like Marc Savoy. another famous accordionist. Eddie is involved in the skilled work of building these
instruments as a
which is now possible because ofthe rising
demand among young players for good quality instruments. a healthy sign for the future ofcajun music.
I).L. Menard‘s songs are a fusion of hisown Louisiana French upbringing and his love of country music. His greatest influence was Hank Williams. and his
own relaxed geniality has
made him a star worldwide. No mean guitarist. his repertoire of
sound of the trio. or
‘ accompany his own songs.
nearly all of which call one
to dance ratherthan sit f and listen.(Norman
Eddie LeJeune. I). L.
Menard and Ken Smith
play the Henry Wood Hall on Sat 23 .