mn- Strin swing
The guitar took a little while to haul itself out of the rhythm section and onto the front line in jazz, but after Charlie Christian in the Goodman band, there was to be no turning back. These days, the instrument is going through a particularly rich phase. but Assembly Direct's Four Guitars concert will look a little further back, to the guitar styles of the 50s.
Guitar, like piano, has the capacity to be both a single line melody instrument and a chordal (and rhythmic) one. which made it ripe for exploitation with the new harmonic horizons explored in be bop. The four guitarists featured belong to different generations, but are linked by common roots in either bop or its concurrently developing West Coast jazz style.
it‘s a multinational line-up, too, with lrish maestro Louis Stewart and Welshman Trefor Owen lining up alongside Americans Mundell Lowe and Doug Raney.
Lowe and Stewart are familiar enough :
faces on the jazz circuit, but the visit of Doug Raney will be his ﬁrst to these parts. Raney is continuing the tradition established by his father, Jimmy Raney, one of the most undervalued performers on the instrument in jazz (check out his OJC album A if you come across it). but with a less overtly bop-derived, more contemporary feel.
The concert will feature these artists in a variety of settings, playing solo and in duo. trio and quartet format, using Owen’s well-crafted arrangements. Despite the focus on a single instrument, the sheer diversity of approach — Lowe’s relaxed swing is poles apart from Stewart’s energised drive, for example — should ensure plenty of variety. (Kenny Mathieson) Four Guitars is at The Queen is Hall in Edinburgh on Fri 5.
Bright lights, fat city
Five days previoust Shawn Colvin was singing live at six in the morning, on Simon Bates teary arrivlderci from New York. Twelve days hence she’ll be in Nottingham, supporting Runrig on their Amazing Things tour. Other solo artists might have baulked at these commitments, leery of being crushed beneath the weight of self- aggrandising simpering and turgid Iumpenrock. Not Shawn Colvin,
though. She’s been through the mill,
siogged up the hill, swallowed down the pill. For ten years she toured America’s bars, relocating whenever a singer-songwriterly opening loomed. Texas, lllinois, California, finally New York - one women and her guitar, the
‘ packdrill before the payback (a record deal in 1988), too long and too far to
let other people’s audiences and agendas sway her from the cause of disseminating her swish country-folk. This is the woman who opened up for
inhabiting the same well-rounded country niche as her friend and collaborator Mary-Chapin Carpenter. ‘Well-rounded’ means smooth and accomplished, but can also mean bland and over-slick - charges which both Colvin and Carpenter are hard- pressed to shirk unreservedly. But such is the core quality oi Colvin’s songs, no matter how indulgent the MOR production values, on stage, unadomed and unfurled, they step into their own and reveal their rootsy
é roots. “The folk thing is sorta safe,’
Shawn Colvin reckons when talk turns
5 to her winning the 1990 Grammy for
the Blue Nile on their one and only till ;
. tour in September 1990 - an event of messianic proportions - and lived to tell the tale.
‘i’ve got a little bit of personality up 3
there,’ she offers, gingerly, of her stagecraft. It’s that vivacity that she’s off in search of next, off to the studio
to put the finishing touches to her third album, a collection of covers, many of them recorded live. (Even though ‘Fat City’, her third album, was only released here early in the
summer, it’s been out in the States for
a year.) - iler records are tender affairs,
' Best Contemporary Folk Recording for
her debut, ‘Steady On’. ‘And I don’t think my music’s just there for playing when you’re having your dinner . . .’
3 (Craig McLean) ' Shawn Colvin plays King Tut’s,
Glasgow on Mon 15.
pieces that we just don’t hear in ' Scotland and a terrible danger of i becoming parochial and inward
. Continuing their innovative Premiere
i Series, the BBC this month focuses on
5 music from Norway. Think about Norwegian composers and the one
who comes to mind is Edvard Grieg. In ;
That is one impetus behind the
: the 150th anniversary year of his birth, ; Premiere Series, another being to
' ensure that contemporary music is not consigned to a new music ghetto. ‘ln the case of Grieg,’ says MacDonald,
‘we often hear the “Piano Concerto”,
the BBC uncovers all sorts of unusual Grieg delights and partners them with music by leading contemporary
; Norwegian composer Ase lledstrom.
? Behind the Premiere Series concept,
.’ “Peer Gynt” and maybe the “llolberg
i now in its third season, is BBC Reed of , Suite”, but something like the
l Music Nugh MacDonald.
‘The whole idea of it,’ he says, ‘is to
; introduce new works both by Scottish
f composers and those from outwith
3 Scotland. if not brand new, then the
i pieces are ones which have not been
; heard in Scotland before. We feel that
Scottish composers are doing fairly well for performances these days, but we also need to give the public the
' chance to hear other unfamiliar works.
i There is a huge number of major
“Symphonic Dances” (BBC 880, Friday
3 12 Nov) is a major and very good .- piece.’ (in Tuesday 9, the orchestra
plays ‘Old Norwegian Dance With
f Variations’, which MacDonald describes as ‘good music and well
written.’ lledstrom was encountered
i by MacDonald at the lntemational
i Rostrum of Composers in Paris a few
r years ago. ‘I heard a large scale
1 orchestral piece, which I thought was
absolutely brilliant and very powerful.’
3 Receiving its world premiere is the
E BBC commission ‘Cantos’, written for
f the forces of the BBC 880. ‘From what
' I know of her music, we can expect something with a dark, romantic
I qualify and typically Nordic in its
' brooding evocation of northern landscapes.’ (Carol Main)
I BBC Premiere Series, Broadcasting
I ilou‘se, Glasgow on Tue 9, Fri 12 and
a Sun 14.
WIM AND VIGOUB
in a little room at the back of HMV in Princes Street. Sharleen Spiteri enthuses about the new Texas album: about recording it at Bearsville Studios in . Woodstock; about how producer Paul Fox (chosen for his work with 10,000 Maniacs and The Wallﬂowers) casually picked up the phone to call Sly Stone’s sister. Rose. to do backing vocals on the track ’Fade Away’. She also gives me one of her soon-to-be- legendary withering looks
; for suggesting that some
of the tracks from that
i newly-released third
album. Ricks Road. might fall neatly in with the
current vogue for 70s
sounds. Never mind. Despite never having
recaptured the . barnstorming success of
their debut single ‘l Don't Want A Lover’, in Britain, Texas have thrilled
' steadily increasing
audiences across Europe
: and America. Today, I they’re playing a set for
shoppers in HMV. So how do these early-aftemoon
. in-store appearances j compare with real gigs? She doesn‘t know. it‘s
their first one. Unperturbed, Texas
crank up their guitars and 9 ﬁre into an all-too-brief ‘ set. Wisely, the standout
track from Ricks Road,
. ‘You Owe it All To Me’.
is included, and the band come over well, despite
being shoehomed into a ; small patch at the back of
the shop. The volume is
perfect: high enough for
f the oomph factor. but
much lower than gig- level. The result is a punchy but clear and distortion-free sound that captures the mood of the
song. pitched midway , between a chug and a
grind. Ricks Road is not going to convert those
; previously uncharmed by ' Texas. but live the group
have presence to spare. (Alastair Mabbott) Texas play The
F ruirmarket, Glasgow on Sat 6 and The Queen ’3 . Hall, Edinburgh on Sun 7.
The band will also be signing copies of the
‘ album at Our Price. 6er
Centre, Edinburgh at 1pm on Fri 5.
32 The List 5—l8 November 1993