._ Danger man
James Morrison Australian trumpeter James Morrison has attracted a lot of attention over the past few years for his impressively high-octane trumpet playing. Feverish critics have claimed he is better than Wynton Marsalis. and even the normally well-balanced Leonard Feather was heard to proclaim that Mom'son was destined to be ‘the next great superstar‘.
That was back in 198-1. when he made his American debut. and if it hasn‘t quite worked out that way. he has every reason to be pleased with his progress. The trumpeter. who has a passion for extravagant flirting with danger - ﬂying. sailing. driving racing cars. abseiling down rocks or buildings — which he feels is intimately connected with his approach to music, has built steadily on that launch.
Stylistically, Morrison straddles territory which draws on bop for its central vocabulary. but is strongly steeped in the New Orleans trumpet tradition. as exempliﬁed by Louis Armstrong. Unusually. he also plays a mean trombone, not so much as an occasional novelty as a genuine second instrument. with occasional forays on euphonium. baritone horn. saxophone or piano thrown in for good measure.
Mom'son has not played in Scotland before. although he has issued a series of recordings in this country, but without yet making the kind of impression he has done elsewhere. The latest of these, Two The Max (East West). is a highly accomplished outing with bass giant Ray Brown, pianist Benny Green. and Jeff Hamilton on drums, but I suspect he will make his greatest impact on stage. (Kenny Mathieson)
James Morrison plays a! The Queen is Hall on Sun 8 at 8pm. and elsewhere.
Back in the mainstream
Kenny Mathieson looks at a new twist on an old theme in the shape of the Coors American All- Stars, led by Howard Alden.
The Edinburgh International Jazz. Festival built its reputation on traditional and mainstreanrjau. and has by and large returned to those strengths in this year‘s programme. The big contemporary jazz names of recent years. such as the late Sun Ra and Pat Metheny. are conspicuously absent from the major concerts. with only Stan Tracey and Ronnie Scott (and maybe
James Morrison) flying the flag of post-
bebop jazz. styles in The Queen‘s Hall series.
With so much competition for big names on the festival circuit these days. though. that re-solidifying of its image may be no bad thing.
Arguably the most interesting mainstream projects will come together in the opening concert. Saxophonist Bob Wilber. an ex»(ioodman sideman himself. will lead a big band project
Howard Alden: seven strings
dedicated to playing sortie of the music performed by the Benny (ioodman big band in their historic (‘arnegie Hall concert in I‘BS. using the original charts prepared for the band. Wilber leads a band made up of a mix of Scottish musicians and the members of the Coors American .-\ll«Stars.
The Coors outfit is a fascinating one. and reveals an organic progression in the rc-establisbment of mainstream ja/J. on the other side of the Atlantic. which began with the emergence of Scott Hamilton and Warren \ache in the late 70s.
The (‘oors project. however. will focus on an even younger generation of musicians seduced by the perennial virtues of the mainstream idiom. straight swing. tonal beauty. and close attention to the melodic and harmonic contours of the tune in question - and. unlike frecrjan forms. there is always a tune in question. When Mike Hart. the director of the Festival. decided to put together such a band. he approached guitarist Howard Alden
with the idea.
‘l‘ve been coming to the Edinburgh Jazz Festival for a while now.‘ Alden says. ‘and l got to know Mike well. He approached me with the suggestion that we might organise a band of players working in this style who hadn‘t been to the Festival before. and I really liked that idea. We talked about who we might ask. and put the band together from there. This is still a very new project for us all. but we have all enjoyed it so far. and we might look at carrying on in some way after the festival.‘
Alden. a lovely musician who has recently been concentrating on seven- string guitar (under the acknowledged irrlluence of his friend and sometime collaborator (ieorgc van Eps. the pioneer of the extra string). leads a strong-looking outfit. The front-line features tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and John Eric Kellso on trumpet. with the excellent John Colliani on piano. and a superb rhythm section of Michael Moore on bass and Jake Hanna on drums. The band will also feature a vocalist. Terrie Richards. and should be down as essential listening when you draw up your festival schedule.
The (bars :l/l-Xlars play a/ The
Queen 3' Hall on Sat 7. am! will participate ill the ./a:: on .'i Summers l)ay event on Sun S. The baml have ten more slots in the programmefrom Sun S- l"ri ln’. at various venues. and a series (lisp/rarer groups will also be playing.
_ Reluctant hero
Leon Bedbone’s cult status was somewhat endangered by the ubiquitous Inter City television advertisements which feature his songs ‘lielax’ and ‘Untwist’, both of which were written especially for the campaign. The singer can hardly be accused of capitalising on this unexpectedly high profile, however, and remains as resolutely downbeat and mysterious as ever.
liedbone, who looks like a cross between Frank Zappa and a Mississippi river boat gambler, chooses not to reveal much about himself; check the reference books and you will find them notably short on facts, including date and place of birth. Ask him directly and he either side-steps the issue or simply doesn’t
leon Redbone indulge your nosiness. He acknowledges that he picked up on a lot of music ‘early on in life’, however, and now draws on that store of information in his inimitable selection ofsongs.
‘My music is actually the kind of music which you would have heard in variety shows and their black equivalents, the minstrel shows, which began as a form around about 1880, and carried on into the 305. I love a beautiful song with a beautiful
14 The List 30 July—l2 August I993
melody, and | see myself mainly as a l selector of songs, most of which I find by accident. I may do a bit more i writing of my own, though, since people can’t seem to tell the difference, and I may as well get the credit for them.’
Since his appearance at the Edinburgh Jan Festival in 1991, he has released only one album, the 1992 set ‘Up A lazy River’ (Private Music), which was even more laid-back than its predecessor, ‘Sugar’ (BMG), while sharing its characteristic mix of vaudeville tunes with influences drawn from blues, flew Orleans jazz, gypsy music, flamenco, and diverse other unlikely areas.
Despite his claim that he finds it difficult to get into the right frame of mind for performing, Redbone’s appealineg enigmatic, understated delivery (augmented by a running series of deadpan comic gags between songs) remains unique. (Joe Alexander) leon Redbone plays at The Queen’s
Hall on Wed 11.