music that has allied the subtlety and complexity of traditional Scottish repertoire to the directness and attack of dance energy. Very much in that vein. and on the cover of the festival programme. young Martyn Bennett appears. wielding his sequencers and bagpipes in a techno-ceilidh dance ambience.

Somotheriand's Queen‘s Hall concert on the final Sunday will be a revelation to those who thought that traditional music had nowhere else to go. Their non-leader. or catalyst. Jim Sutherland explains. ‘Anyone who heard us at last year‘s Glenuig Festival appearance will notice a much more electric sound.

‘l‘ve swapped to my electric cittern. with single strings. it‘s really more like an electric guitar. and Iain MacLeod is playing the electric guitar. He still plays mandolin on a couple of numbers but really stays on guitar. From Mouth Music and Shooglenifty. James has joined us on kit drums. That brings our number up to eleven. and frees both Tom Bancroft and me to be percussionists. I don‘t have the timekeeping role any more. and 1 get a roving commission. Also. it means that with three drummers the percussion breaks are wild!‘

Jim has written about 70 per cent of the material. and there are only four instrumental numbers in the whole set. The band is very much centred on the vocals of the three strongly jazz- orientated female vocalists. Not that they singjazz here. but it does mean

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that they do interesting things with their voices. On quite a few of the numbers. the ‘Girlies‘ (as they call themselves) are singing vocables. meaningless sounds which however add character and rhythm to the soundscape. ‘White Line Fever‘ is in 10/8 with some big vocal pushes. while there is another. subtler side of the band in songs like ‘Orange Crush Blue‘ or ‘Shiver And Shakc' from Jim or Sophie Bancroft‘s ‘Left Over Man‘.

Jim feels that the songs are quite poppy. and attractive without trying too hard.

‘We‘ve got a sort of Folk Section. with Simon Thoumire‘s concertina. Simon Bradley‘s fiddle. lain’s guitar. a sort ofjazz section with the Bancroft brothers. and a vocal section with the Girlies. but Gina Rae also plays whistle. and all the boundaries are blurred and there is space for lots of improvisation. The music is much more

European than say. American. it's not so rock influenced.

‘Somc of the numbers are quite heavily harmonised. chordally. but lots of it tends to be riff-based. So our working practices are bizarre to some people. We don't use scores as such. No dots. We sing the lines to each other. learning by ear. The whole process is very unifying. Because ofthe way we rehearse. the social thing. everyone feels that they own the band.‘

See Folk and Harp Festival section for details of all these concerts and more.

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me- String swing

Those who see the harp and jazz as being forever unreconcilable never had much problem arguing their case until the advent of Deborah Henson- Conant. Jazz harpists, or semi-jazz harplsts like Harpo Marx, did exist as far back as the 303, but none figured what you might call prominently in the history of the music.

I don’t pretend to know how the historians will eventually rate her music, or indeed the whole notion of jazz harp, but there is no denying that she has brought it not only into the realm of the possible, but also the positively desirable. Deborah would cut a striking figure simply standing on a street corner; onstage, she commands attention both by her sheer presence, and the way she approaches a traditionally rather staid instrument.

Ditch any notions about the harp as an ethereal, drawing room luxury; she likes to get down with the best of them. Her jazz playing is the real thing: she is a genuine improviser, swings with a vengeance, has a highly interesting harmonic concept (although it might be easier to judge exactly how interesting on a more familiar instrument), and introduces elements from ethnic and other sources in imaginative, occasionain

Deborah Henson-Conant

zany ways. She has been to Scotland a number of times, usually at the behest of the Edinburgh Harp Festival, and now returns again for her most ambitious project yet for them. She will be drawing on her years spent learning and playing classical harp in a substantial new Jazz Suite she has composed for jazz harp and a small classical ensemble, culled from the ranks of the ever-willing Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Dn past evidence, it should be not only an intriguing musical experience, but also a lot of fun. (Kenny Mathieson)

The World Premiere of Deborah Henson-Conant’s Jazz Suite is at The Queen’s Hall on Sun 27, as part of the Edinburgh Harp Festival.


In spite of a rather nicely positioned building on the capital’s Princes Street - directly opposite Edinburgh Castle - the Royal Dyer-Seas League is not that widely known in Scotland.

; With more emphasis generally on what

the League can offer here, and a couple of concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow this month, that situation is in the process of changing.

For the first time in the 42-year history of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, the League is to promote concerts by outstanding young prizewlnners in Edinburgh and Glasgow in addition to London. Established in 1952, the competition is one of the most comprehensive and highly regarded of major competitions in the lift and, according to ‘The Times’, ‘has a formidable reputation for discovering new talent.’ Under the chairmanship of Lady Darbirolll, the competition has a broad range which encompasses awards for solo performers, chamber ensembles and composers.

The artists appearing at the Queen’s

Planes. Dukes, Rahman Trio Hall in Edinburgh and the Stevenson Hall in Glasgow are Robert Plane, clarinet, Philip Dukes, viola, and Sophia Rahman, piano. Alongside the classic work for this combination, Mozart’s ‘Kegelstadt Trio’ and works by Brahms and Schumann, they also play a selection of solo, due and trio items including three short contemporary works by Kurtag, Judith Weir and John Woolrich.

Previous RDSL winners make for an impressive list, with Scottish musicians faring particularly well. Douglas Boyd, oboist, Lorraine McAslan, violin, singers Lorna Anderson and Elizabeth McCormack and pianist Malcolm Martineau have all been selected, while last year the First Prizewlnner was the freebass accordionist David Preston and the winner of the composition award was James Clapperton, again both Scottish. (Carol Main)

Royal Dyer-Seas League Prizewinners play Stevenson Hall on Mon 28 and The Queen's liall, Edinburgh on Tue 29.

The List 25 March—7 April 1994 27