Annie Ross

it's been some time since Annie Ross had the pleasure of playing a gig in her adopted home town. and it is a retum which she is eagerly anticipating. A projected tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra a couple of years ago fell through. but she will now make her Jazz Festival debut in a concert which was confirmed too late to make the Festival's own brochure.

Ross is related to the Scottish showbiz dynasty which has also given us Ella and Jimmy Logan. and. like her aunt. made her name in America. She began as a child star in theatre and films (and still turns tip in movies. most recently Altman’s Short Cuts). btit when she broke big. it was as a singer.

Ross was oite of the first artists to plug into the style ofjazz singing know as vocalese, in which the singer attempts to recreate a horn solo in song. Ross scored several big hits on her own. notably ‘Twisted' in 1952. arid later teamed up with Jon Hendricks and Dave Lambert in the most celebrated vocal trio in jazz.

She remained art equally fine singer in more conventional styles. however, and has had a number of successes in stage musicals and revues. if her voice no longer has the range and mobility which allowed her to navigate so surely through the classic. tongue- twisting vocalese recordings of the 50s, she is still a highly accomplished performer in several fields. (Joe Alexander)

Annie Ross is at the McEwans 80/- Old

F ruitmurket on Sat 2 at [0.30pm.

_ Reaching for

the light

Kenny Mathieson finds pianist Bheki Mseleku in a spiritual mood.

The past twelve months have been very important ones for pianist Bheki Mseleku. The progress which he made in the early 90s from eoterie status on the London scene and sometimes it had seemed closer to a well-kept secret has accelerated with the signing of a major label recording deal with Verve. a South Bank Show special devoted to the recording of 'linielessness. the first album under that deal. and a distinct heightening of his international profile. His association with Joe Henderson

; can only help to raise that profile even ' further. For many listeners. Henderson ; is now the premier saxophonist in jazz.

' and if he is not that. then he is certainly

very close to it. Neither his playing

style nor his personality are given to self—assertion. and his reputation has been built on patience and musicality

rather than marketing hype.

Mseleku has perhaps had a little more ofthe latter in recent years, and his standing in the music is still less obvious than Henderson's. btit the combination raises the promise of some scintillating music. It began when the pianist became a label-mate of the saxophonist. and the Verve production team arranged for Henderson to join Bheki's band on the title track oi~ 'l‘imelessness. with conspicuous success.

The next step came when Henderson again joined Bheki‘s band for live dates. including a London concert. but the current combination will reverse that polan'ty. This time. Bheki joins Henderson's trio (with George Mraz on bass and AI Foster on drums). and it

will be fascinating to hear how the pianist's sometimes rather splashy exuberance fits within what is an extremely tight musical construction. Mseleku is l‘rank about his awareness ol‘the technical deficiencies which can enter his playing. He was born and brought tip in Durban. South Al‘i'ica. where his lather was also a piano player. and introduced him to botli African music and [European classical music. A childhood accident at the age

on his right hand. and his playing style. which can be extraordinarily intense and energised when the mood is fully

that loss.

it. btit in any case i have quite small hands for a pianist -- I don‘t have a big spread like Randy Weston or

soiitebody. so i can‘t get much more

than an octave stretch. and certainly not

oi‘eight cost him the tops of two fingers

on him, has had to make adjtistiiient for

‘l have worked out ways to get around

.. T t \ Bheki Mseleku: seeking the spiritual masters

j all those big chords tip at the tenth and i so on. i know the limitations of my l style. btit it‘s only this year that l have ! been able to go otit and buy my own ! piano lot the first time.

‘What i look for in my music is something that goes beyond just the body level. Music is spiritual for me. and i am always trying to reach the light which comes from the spiritual i masters they are the light which i dispels darkness. and we need to know ! them. I appreciate music as an art form.

btit I see no point in being involved in musicjust for the sake of it. i prefer to be inspired. to hear the music from inside. and to be moved spiritually in that way.‘ 3 liheki Mseleku plays with the Joe Henderson Quartet at the Melina/ts ! 8()/— 0M l’rui'tmurket mt l‘t'l 8, mu! returns with his own hand in the TI)K

lx’titttu/ .l/u/ttt'c/It l'T’X/ll'tl/ (I! the Queen is

Hit/l. lfrlt‘ti/urr‘e/t. on 3 Sept.

Maximum force

It’s difficult to know where to start in a consideration of the career of Max Roach. Along with Kenny Clarke, he invented bebop drumming, teasing out a rhythm which was simultaneously flexible enough and powerful enough to match the invention at Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie, while at the same time elevating the drummer to equal status with the front line soloists for the first time in jazz.

‘Bird used to hand out instructions to everybody in the studio about what chord changes we were using or whatever, but he would just look at me and say Max, you know what to do, and I would do it. I learned from Lester Young not to try to be anybody else but myself, and I’ve tried to bear that in mind over the years.’

If Roach had done nothing else but play with Parker, he would be assured a crucial place in jazz history. As it is,


5 his achievements continued to

expand: his 50s quintet with Clifford

! Brown was a landmark group of the

;. period, his ‘Freedom Now Suite' (with

his then-wife Abbey Lincoln) was an

i early step in increasing political awareness in 605 jazz, and he both made solo percussion a jau vehicle,

I and developed the concept of the

percussion ensemble in M’Boom. Composition has long been an important aspect of his work, and has included the extended piece ‘Survivors’ (which pre-dated similar experiments by the Kronos Quartet) for himself and string quartet, and his

double quartet, which unites his

regular quartet - the one appearing in Glasgow, with long time associates in trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater and saxman Odean Pope - with the Uptown

String Quartet, featuring his daughter

Maxine. His highly recommended double CD

for the German enja label, ‘To The

Max‘ (1992), which was also a multi- media stage show, another of his

.i abiding preoccupations, contains something of an encapsulation of all this (not to mention a truly speaker-

Max Roach

shattering atomic explosion). Re is

3 insistent, however, that it does not

represent a culmination, and he is currently cooking up various projects, writing an autobiography, and clearly intends to continue to the max for some time yet. (Kenny Mathieson) The Max Roach Quartet play at the McEwans 80/- Old Fruibnarket on Sat 9.

18 The List l—I4 July 1994