Roy Powell: groove master Things are fairly quiet on thejazz front this month. but there is one highly l intriguing Scottish debut

in store when the Manchester-based keyboard player Roy Powell brings his band north for a short tour. Powell tnade his recording debut as a leader with the relaxed jazz~funk grooves and attractive arrangements of A Big Sky (Totem) late last year. but had already made an impression north of the border through his composition for the Apollo Saxophone Quartet. Burr ()ttI.

‘They heard rne play in i Manchester. and realised that my tnusic was already quite compositional. and decided to commission something from me. That

' piece can be played either by classical players with ,feel or by jazz musicians. r

and that is really a

reflection of thy own position. because I am i classically trained. but i choose to work itt both acoustic and electric jazz. and l atn really interested in that area that lies between them.

‘l used to worry a bit about the diversity of what I was doing. to be honest. but i had the I chance to hang out with i Mike Gibbs for a while. and he sorted me out on that score. Perhaps that is the way we will all be going from here.‘

Roy’s touring band will feature the album personnel, but minus trombonist Rick Taylor and with the addition of percussionist Eryl Roberts. The tnost familiar face will be the I brilliant guitarist Mike l Walker. who played with Tommy Smith for a while. with lain Dixon on saxes and flute. Jake Newman on bass. and Steve Gilbert on drums.

The band's CVs include names ranging from the Creative Jazz Orchestra through to Sting. Lisa Stansfleld and Simply Red. a spread which neatly reflects something of their leader‘s own avowed eclecticism. Worth checking out. (Kenny Mathieson)

Ray Powell Group play at (/16 Tran Jazz Cellar. Edinburgh on Werl 19, aan The [31/1 Nuit’.

Glasgow, rm Fri 2/.

l 38 The List 7-20 Apr 1995 l

rm:— Aran sweaters no more

Norman Chalmers previews some of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh Folk Festival.

The Edinburgh Folk Festival is buoyant again. afloat after some years low in the

water. and etnerging as very : representative of the movements.

currents and depths in the carrying stream of folk music.

A huge increase in participation has been marked over the last few years: people are no longer satisfied to sit at concerts or in folk clubs and be performed to. They now flock to the workshops. teach-ins. study weekends or summer courses in everything frotn tuition on fiddle. whistle. guitar or

- accordion. to singing and mixed

instrument groups and the list is always growing. And as for dancing. there are lessons in social dancing, West Highland or Lowland. lrish set dancing. Scottish step dancing. etc. anti an endless round of ‘ceilidhs'. meaning

' dances. where you can treat your friends to some of your acquired

terpsichorean tricks.

The Edinburgh Folk Festival caters for all of those mentioned. including harp. flute. bagpipes. ceilidh band workshops. and even blues guitar. There‘s a dance every night, and some have little to do with the Scottish tradition and everything to do with having a good time to good music: the Flatville Aces' Cajun licks will have you on the floor swinging Louisiana two-steps. lnner Sense Percussion ()rchestra dig intojazzy Latin grooves with tnore of a sense of carnival than

2 ceilidh.


A noticeable recent feature in the folk and roots world is the emergence of more and more top women performers. especially instrumentalists. Eileen lvers. with her tremendous trio of bodhran and percussion expert Tommy Hayes and guitarist John Doyle. is set to support Aly Bain and Phil Cunninghatn at the major Festival Theatre concert. btrt the two Scots boys better take care or they'll seem tame in comparison, such is the level of energy anti skill that pours out of the sparky Irish American.

Another astonishing talent. again from North America, is the hugely accomplished 22-year-ord Natalie MacMaster, taking the incredibly vital revival of the Cape Breton, Scottish- style music to the rest of the world. The Kathryn Ticket] of the Cape Breton fiddle, she performs with Tracey Dares. her equal in wild fluency. but on the piano. MacMaster is also a first-rate step dancer. something she sometimes finds herself doing when she gets

carried away by the rhythms of her own playing.

Catriona MacDonald. from Shetland. has added a strong music college education to the innate, or so it seems, Shetland facility for the fiddle, and is proving. in her partnership with young accord-ion master lan Lowthian that Scottish music has more places to go.

Then there's Karen Tweed's consummate accordion. in concert with fan Carr‘s guitar or subsumed in the all-women Poozies; young Lewis piper and singer Anna Murray. in the all- women Gaelic concert; Orkney‘s guitar

4 and fiddledstars, the Wrigley Sisters; the

lead singersin most. of the visiting lrish bands and the spectacular blues and guitar of California‘s Kristina Olsen.

The folkie world is changing, and all for the better. Perhaps we've seen the last of beer-bellied men in Aran sweaters.

The Edinburgh Folk Festival runs from Fri 7—Star I 6. See listings for details.

Styles of the isles

Two wonderful singers share the same stage as part of a concert of Gaelic song and women singers, at the Edinburgh Folk Festival. Lewis and Barra are at opposite ends of the Outer Hebridean archipelago, and even today there are many on either island who have not visited the other. Catholic Berra has a relaxed Irish feel, figuratively and geographically miles away from suburban Stomoway and the stern strictures of a lewis Sabbath. So it’s not much of a surprise to learn from Ishbel MacAsltilI, the best known singer from Point in Lewis, an area renowned for the number and quality of its singers, that she has never before performed with Barra’s superb Flora Macileill.

Though long settled in Glasgow, Flora

Ishde Ianhshiil prefers the terror of performing live has a huge repertoire of songs learned over a childhood and youth growing up among the last of the great indigenous traditional singers of ham and the Southem isles.

Ishbel explains: ‘Of course I’ve heard her sing, and I’ve always admired her singing, but there is quite a difference between our styles. Well, lewis is different from all the other islands! We approach a song differently. For instance, I don’t go in for such

mutation as Flora or some others. I try simply to'traesmit, to whoever Is listening, the sue joy and pleasure that I feel about the song.

‘I won’t sing a song If I don't like the words,llravetolovethewords,soif I’rn singing to people who don’t have Gaailolfoelthatltryevenharderto communicate the meaning directly in the singing. And I think It’s only fair to give, not a direct translation, but a little explanation, before singing the song. Then there’s a wonderful exhilaration in reaching out to mmeona, and an immediate response from poplo.

.‘I suppose i need that,’ she eeocIades. “It’s so much better than the studio. Recording is not my favourite way of expressing myself. I much prefer the tenor of a live parfarmance.’ (Norman Chalmers)

isldrel IdacAsiriII, Flora Idacleiii, Maggie methane, Anna Murray and Margaret Bennett play the met Boom, Toeiot Ifouse, Edinburgh on Sat 15 as put of the Edinbugh Fol Festival.