Cool on the road
Joe Alexander gets in the groove with the latest rebirth of cool.
This particular rebirth of cool has nothing to do with either Miles Davis (who took credit for the original eo- operative session of 1949—50 as Birth Of The Cool). or Gerry Mulligan. an original participant who recently went back into the studio to re-create those famous moments in jazz history. The latest rebirth taps into thejazz tradition in its own esoteric way. but the music on Rebirth 0f Cool Three (4th & Broadway) is strictly a 90s phenomenon.
While DJ and co-compiler Patrick Forge is happy to acknowledge that the first The Rebirth 0f Cool compilation in 199] was not fully reflective of what they were trying to do in putting it together. he insists that the situation has changed enormously since then. The Rebirth concept hinges on music which brings together elements from traditional black music (often acoustic) with cutting edge contemporary black forms. and creates a dancefloor groove that draws on the best of both.
‘The concept hasn't changed over the three albums. but what has changed radically is the amount of material that we have been able to consider. in 199], we were scratching around trying to fill the first one. and it was very rap-based. but this time we had an enormous amount to choose from. and the problem was getting it down to sixteen tracks. i think what we are looking at is the growth of a new kind of dance music based in funk orjazz, but with an authenticity of its own. and one ofthe things we wanted to do was to show the diversity of that music.‘
The set is certainly that. and there is
no evidence ofa standard format for inclusion. Jazzier items (in varying degrees) include the Jazz Warriors. Courtney Pine in a soul groove with singer Juliet Roberts. Greg ()sby‘s hardline jazz-rap fusion, the heavy jazz-funk return of The Brecker Brothers. a previously unissued cut from guitarist Ronny Jordan. and a killer walking (or more like running) bass-line on United Future Organisation's ‘Loud Minority'.
Other tracks have little or no obvious jazz connections, like French rapper MC Solaar's ‘Caroline‘. Ray Hayden's Stevie Wonder-ish vocals on ()paz's ‘Don’t Say Nothing'. the Stereo MC‘s ‘Fever‘. or Lisa Taylor‘s gospel hit ‘Did You Pray Today‘ (previously only available on import) all of which come out of a different context. The whole thing hangs together mainly around the nebulous notion of the groove.
Patrick Forge will be going out on the road in support ofthe album (which he argues makes some of the re-issued material available in the shops in more mainstream form than the original releases), with a live package which will ‘be led by Ronny Jordan and his
Bonny Jordan band. and will also feature Freestyle Fellowship from L.A.. Dona Bryant from New York. vibes player Max Beesley. and Martine Girault. and will hopefully work like a revue. i think that anyone that’s into dance music should be able to get their heads around most of the album. and the show — including the music I will be playing — will reﬂect that.‘
The eclecticism and mix and match philosophy which has grown up around the London jazz dance underground will also be reflected in the three contributors to the Reed. Rhythm & Rap touring package which visits Mayfest. Again.jazz is seen as ‘the heartbeat' of the music. but it will be mixed in with elements drawn from hip-hop. rap. Afro-Cuban dance. reggae. soul. and lndian music. reflecting both the ethnic mix and wide-ranging musical interests ofthe three featured players, elarinettist David Jean Baptiste. guitarist Nitin Sawhney. and trumpeter Byron Wallen. The Rebirth of the Cool tour is at The Tunnel. Glasgow, on Tue [8; Reed. Rhythm & Rap is at The Renfrew Ferry on Thurs 20.
‘Dur music is contemporary In the sense that we pick up on things which we hear happening around us, like African music, rather than contemporary in the sense of squeaky- gate music. People don’t really know what a band like ours does, and often they expect The Fairer Sax in trousers playing Gershwin arrangements, but we are not like that at all.’
The speaker is llob Buckland, one- fourth of the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, musing on public and Industry lncomprehenslon over the role of that still unusual beast. The members - llob, Tim lledpath, Andy Scott, .lon Bebbeck - all met up at music school in Manchester in 1985, and have been working hard at putting themselves on the map ever since.
Their debut recording, ‘Bow Dut’ (1993) is self-financed (although Decca have signed them on the strength of it), and so is their current tour, which will feature a new four- movement work by Michael llyman, ‘Song for Tony’, dedicated to his late manager Tony Symons, alongside
music written for them by David Bedford (a piece for twelve saxophones), Mancunian composers Boy Powell (‘Bow Dut’ itself, which is dedicated to Miles Davis) and Paul Mitchell-Davidson, and ex-Tears for Fears saxophonist Will Gregory, as
. well as a Gavin Bryars quartet, and
their own adaptation of Bulgarian wedding music by lvo Papasov.
The band try to get away from the standard quartet format, and also use rhythmic and synthesized accompaniments on DAT and elements of music theatre in the show. Their music, llob feels, does not quite fit into either a classical or [an category, but falls somewhere in between, although improvisation “is likely to be the ensemble improvising on a texture or something, rather than long, self- indulgent solos. It is hard to describe, but we see it as being new, exciting, ,and highly listenable, whatever people decide to call lt.’ (Kenny Mathieson) The Apollo Saxophone Duartet play at The Queen’s llall, Edinburgh, on Tue 11.
Elias. it‘s a “come together‘ sort of thing you only have to free your funky mind to understand. A fun collective. a funk collective. but above all a fusion collective, they took their name from Sgt Elias in Oliver Stone’s Platoon because. well, the man liked his herbal Woodbines. Now, eighteen months and roughly 40 gigs later. this raggle-taggle bunch of professional enthusiasts are smoking out and uniting Glasgow’s fractured scenes with their reputation for hoochin' live performances.
‘lt shocked me right from the beginning.‘ admits small-sized. large- throated vocalist Mari. ‘We don't have one group of people who come to see us play. We get all ages. and everybody from the trendies to the hippies to the crusties to . . . everybody.‘
It‘s been the fashion of late. particularly in London. to merge all manner of black musical histories such asjazz. rap. funk. soul and reggae to create a distinctly cross-genre melting- pot sound that steals like a magpie but soars like an eagle. Look at Brand New Heavies. Stereo MCs. Humble Souls, D-Note. etc. What gives Elias the edge right now is their multi-faceted looseness that positively plays up their individual talents.
‘l think a lot of the bands on Talkin' Loud and Acid Jazz have got a lot to do with what we're doing,‘ defers guitarist Kevin Dillon in anticipation ofthe inevitable comparisons. ‘But how many bands on those labels have got a scratch DJ. a rhythm section. a brass section, a raggamuffin chatter and a normal hip- hop chatter plus a normal vocalist? Plus i think we've got more of an edge having Richie (Dempsey. from mega indie sonic sculpturists Fenn) drumming. We‘ve got so many cross- references.’
All of them bubbling over in their effervescent eleven-strong stage performances. Something for everyone to understand and vibe too. (Calvin Bush)
Elias support the James Taylor Quartet at Barrowland. Glasgow on Thurs I 3.
46 The List 7—20 May 1993