Ellie Buchanan meets Roy ; Harper — down but not
The emperor is naked. Follow the flow, believe he’s not and you perpetuate the artistic myth which keeps educated pretenders and j persuaders in business. Battle the Z tide, strip off the image, bare your i soul for anyone to view if they fancy,
regardless of ridicule or respect, and you’re probably Roy Harper.
Famous for uncompromising musical truths and laterally- conceived eccentricities for 25 years or so, guitar poet Harper’s credits include 3 Led Zep song about him, lead vocals on Pink Floyd’s ‘Have A Cigar’, Kate Bush’s acknowledgement of him as her primary inﬂuence and appearances by sundry rock heavyweights on
most of his sixteen albums, the latest
of which is Death Or Glory (Awareness AWCD 1037).
The story so far: wife Jacqui, his sound engineer and partner for ten years, opts for sartorially interesting ﬁddle celeb Nigel Kennedy (a former close friend of her husband’s)
i just before her 28th birthday this
; summer. Roy cracks up. Son Nick 1 and new engineer Roger pick up
' some of the pieces and help him
reassemble — the result is a collection of songs, rants and poems currently
3 ? Lyric virtues
7 In a week when llan Bennlck and Steve
Berestord are doing wlldy unpredictable things in Edinburgh, and Chick Lyail is touring with his energetic
and exciting contemporary jazz
quartet, lens at more sedate jazz torms can take comtort trom the visit oi
trombonist Roy Williams to the cellar
bar iazz club at Tron Ceilidh House. The venue has now settled down as a good
place to hear music, and Williams is
likely to pull a healthy crowd. Funnily enough, Williams iollows a
man whose CV reads very like his own, saxophonist John Barnes, into the Tron ; guest slot. Both men chart their rise in
Britlsh mainstream jazz circles through the Alex Welch and then Humphrey Lyttelton bands, and have played together many times over the years. This time, though, Williams will be heard in the company at the Jack Finlay Trio, who did a line job in that role with Barnes.
The trombonist has been a treelance operator since leaving Humph’s band a decade ago, and has earned himselt a
the British scene. His virtues are the
Lreputatlon which stretches well beyond
receiving a warm reaction around Britain from his large, constant following.
‘I fucking love that guy — he says what I wish I’d thought of first,’ a drunk young virologist confided to me shortly before passing out, happy, towards the end of the gig at Cowley Workers Social Club, while the rest of the complete social cross-section including tweedy teachers, special-trouseer New Agers, bikers, girlie secretaries and (oh bother) the paralytic Scots heckler(‘Gie’s. . . um, er. . .’) responded full frontally to Harper’s
innermost demons and vulnerability.
Despite being hurt by the recent appearance of a negative interview by a Q journalist preoccupied with sheep (right down to the clothing, according to all concerned),
Harper’s on positive form.
The album sleeve carries a lonely hearts ad originally intended to re-woo Jacqui and later adopted as a semi-serious campaign to reach the next stage in his life.
mainstream ones at a bumlshed, I'lll'erOﬂlldOd tone and shapely, melodic phrasing, although his early jazz experience in his native Lancashire lay In more overtly traditional styles, including a stint with Terry nghttoot during the trad boom, and he can revert to that whenever necessary.
The tall-gate trombone antics ot Dixieland jazz, however, are not what
‘l was really surprised at how many
: replies I got,’ he says. ‘And I became ‘ aware very quickly that I probably
wouldn’t meet a new soulmate that
' way. But I’m making a whole heap of
He’s bitter about Kennedy and still deeply sad. As the aftershocks to the professional split take their toll, he’s learning that handy fact - who his real friends are and what they’re for. Roy and his son Nick, a formidable young guitarist providing the perfect foil for his father’s ﬂights, have formed a mutual admiration society.
The new material is not easy listening. But, as usual, the music’s quality carries the tougher parts, while only the very young, beautiful, insensitive or dishonest could fail to identify with at least some of the wild truths littering the lyrics. Plus, there’s some good rousing political stuff there too. Nothing to do with lurv. Just a spot of mental nudity.
I Roy Harper plays King Tut’s, 5 Glasgow on Thu 3 and The Queen ’3 ; Hall, Glasgow on Fri 4.
Roy Williams his muslc Is all about. His style is essentially an intimate one, relying on subtlety rather than volume much ot the time (comparisons with the great Jack Teagarden are entirely apt), and the Tron should be a good place to appreciate the tluent, Iyrlcal qualities at his playing. (Kenny Mathieson)
Roy Williams plays Tron Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh on Wed 25.
Gm MUSIC A
RECORD 4th NIGHT lst DECEMBER
The List 2(i-NovcmWEB—Beccmbcr I992 29