Icooder‘: great education
Each of us has our favourite concerts that we look back on with special favour. and that applies equally to ZOO-gigs-a-year music critics. The first visit of guitarists Ry Cooder and David Lindley to Glasgow's SECC back in the summer of 1990 was one such occasion. and it will generate very high expectations indeed for their return. this time to the Concert Hall.
It came at a time when Cooder’s own albums had lost some of their sparkle. and he was making better Ry Cooder albums for film soundtracks than he was under his own name. The duo with multi- instrumentalist Lindley. an equally versatile and inquisitive musician best known for his long stint as Jackson Browne’s guitarist. restored the missing verve and sparkle in dazzling style.
Cooder’s recent work has included the Little Village band in 1992. more soundtracks and collaborations with the likes of Indian master V. M. Bhatt (on A Meeting By The River) and Ali Farka Toure (on Talking Timbuktu). while Lindley has worked with Jordanian percussionist Hani Nasar and the Malagassy musicians of Madagascar.
It is reasonable to assume. then. that they will spice up their eclectic mix of classic Americana with even more wide- ranging borrowings.
Both men share a passion for unearthing hidden gems from the complex. interwoven patchwork of musical influences brought to bear in America. from blues. jazz. soul and R & B through to calypso and Hawaiian slack-key guitar. or hybrids like Tex-Mex. This time. in addition to their range of guitars and related instruments like mandolin and dobro. and Lindley‘s ﬁddle. they will also call on percussionist Joachim Cooder (Ry's son) and singer Roseanne Lindley (yup. David’s gal) to make up a real family band. (Kenny Mathieson) Ry C ooder and David Lindley play at the Glasgow C oncert Hall on Sun 25.
m_ Scaling the its
§‘ “so: ‘1- ‘s “ long Fin Klllie: Obscurity? Item dank,
i Bristol’s manic minstrels The Blue
l Aeroplanes were once asked why they ; had so many members and instruments in their line-up. ‘Why not?’ they
i replied. ‘They’re there to be used, why 3 not use them?’
i Blairgowrie’s manic minstrels Long
E Fin Killie try the same trick but with
i even more instruments and fewer
; members. The result is a totally
5 idiosyncratic melange of skittering
. rhythms, frenetic violins and chaotic i percussion. If Long Fin Killie were an 1 advertising slogan, they would be
i something like Traditional Tools
Produce Revolutionary Results.
‘The original idea was to play using folk instruments in an extreme manner,’ explains singer and multi- instrumentalist Luke Sutherland. ‘My
folks used to listen to a lot of folk- rock and it wasn’t my bag but I
understood what it could do in terms of getting people going. But there was
only so far along that path that we could go before we got bored and we were looking at whole different structures and approaches.
‘How I’m just wondering how far from centre my sensibilities are. I thought “Hollywood Gem” [their current single] was a pop song. It was the most commercial thing we’d done and Jamie Matson, their producer] said, “What are you talking about? This isn’t a single”.’
Kindred spirit and king of the abstruse Mark E. Smith guests elsewhere on the EP, adding his disaffected philosophising to ‘The Heads Of Dead Surfers’. However, Luke is at pains to explain that long Fin Killie are not trying to be wilfully obscure.
‘I worry that people find us tokenistic because of the amount of instruments we use,’ he says. ‘One of ' the things I really like about Kate Bush is the listing of who plays what after each song and you’re listening out for the didgeridoo and the dulcimer and the whistles. When it’s all together in a cohesive whole, it sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard.
‘There’s things we’ve done on the album, like having looped saxophone buried under crushing guitars. I want to add marimba, muted trumpet and cello as well. Things that you’ve really got to listen for I really like.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
Long Fin Killie’s debut album, _ ‘Houdini’, is out now on Too Pure Records.
mum- Fully equipped
Jessica Lauren: iazz-funkstress
Keyboard player Jessica Lauren’s vibrant grooves are now a well- established item on the playlists of jazz-dance clubs across the country, but she is able to bring an interestingly varied musical background to bear on the genre.
“My mother got me started on classical piano. She hated pop music, but she had Oscar Peterson and Sinatra records, which were my first access to jazz. At school, my friend’s big brother was into people like Frank : Zappa and Captain Beefheart, and I started to realise what great things . the musicians on those records were
‘Then I discovered Miles Davis and John McLaughlin, and from there Herbie Hancock and George Duke, and it’s really been a growing process ever since. I did my apprenticeship doing standards in wine bars with just piano and drums, and I loved that - I kind of miss it sometimes. A lot of the funk posse don’t have that background.’
Lauren’s debut album, ‘Siren Song’, followed a couple of successful singles, and she also features on Acid Jazz’s ‘Totally Wired 12’ compilation. For her Scottish dates, she will be carrying a six-piece funk outfit.
‘This band is quite intimate. I prefer the term jazz-funk to fusion, but I try to incorporate elements from a whole lot of Afro-American traditions, including things like R & B and gospel. I play swing-blues within a jazz-funk format!
‘I’ve had a Fender Rhodes for a while, but I’m picking up other bits and pieces that let me get closer to that authentic soul-jazz sound. Modern digital keyboards don’t have the same feel as the old analogue stuff, and it’s a shame to hear great guys like Lonnie Liston Smith playing on crappy digital synths because they can’t be bothered lugging it around anymore. But I have to learn to drive soon - I’ve got too much equipment now!’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Jessica Lauren plays La Belle Angelo, Edinburgh on Fri 23.
ramm— King and country
\ ‘\ ». '
Mark Tinkler: 'I'm not intimidating’
For all the wonderful productions that companies like Scottish Opera or other such international opera houses might put on. there are operas out there which the public can see and hear only through the efforts of amateur and student companies. And there is no reason at all to suppose that just because they are not strictly professional they may be lacking: the last time (l968) that Dclibcs' Le Roi l'a Dit (‘The King has said it‘) was performed by a student company in the UK. Dame Kiri te Kanawa and Josephine Barstow were among the developing voices a young Richard Armstrong conducted at London‘s National Opera Studio.
So who knows what the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama might have in store with their production of the same piece? In preparing it. the students have a distinct advantage in their director. First known on the operatic stage as a singer — he I took the title role in Scottish Opera‘s Billy Budd. was in Graham Vick's Carmen and John Mauceri’s Candide — l Mark Tinkler is able to identify with l the singers more than most. ‘l know what it is like to be a singer at college. how terrifying it can be. and I hope that because of that I‘m not intimidating as a director.‘
There are very practical reasons why this particular piece tends not to be in the professional repertoire but suits students. ‘There are no less than fourteen principal roles.‘ says Tinkler. ‘which is good when you have lots of talented students. but not so good when you are paying the expenses of an opera house.‘ The opera itself is in the opera (‘omique tradition. ﬁrst performed in Paris in l873 and boasting a fairly improbable plot but delicious music. Tinkler describes it as ‘a comedy of manners, which we've set in turn of the century Belgium to give a sense of social structure for modem audiences.‘ (Carol Main)
Le Roi l ’a Dir opens at the New Athenaeum Theatre on Monday 26 Jane and runs until Thursday 29. Performances start at 7.15pm.
33 The List 16-29 Jun 1995