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A new season of World Music at Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms kicks off with a concert featuring the two dominant strains running through the series of events: Africa and the Caribbean. .la/./. Jamaica rrriglrt be a misnomer. in
that their rntrsic is far more visceral tharr cerebral. and even if the line-up looks like a be- bop group with sa.\. trtrmpet. trombone. bass. drums and guitar. they are the celebrated synthesizers of ska/1.. an original music combining reggae. ska. rrrerrto and jaw, elements into a dartceable whole. Sharing the first night with them is the notable Nigerian singer l-‘r‘an Kuboye and listended liamily. the si\- strong Lagos-based band led by her bass-playing husband.
A week later. from further up the coast in Senegal. and from a griot family (the hereditary musicians of West African culture) .‘ylansour Seck brings ltis celebrated si\- piece band.
In Scotland recently w itlr his long-term musical associate and friend liaaba .\laal in the group l)ande l.enol ('Voice of the l’cople') which they formed in Paris in the early SOs. Seck is a guitarist. passionate singer and a great mtrsiciarr in his own right. l’ulsing with chimed guitars. kora. percussion and chanted backing vocals. the band moves from intense Senegalese praise songs to cheerful. insistent dance grooves. Also on Seck's album. N'Der l-iurlu 72mm and in their ranks in the touring band is another vocal genius. ()usmane llarnady l)iop. from neighbouring .\lauritania. and also a griot.
A later proposed visit by Kenya's Abana Ba Nasery has fallen through. and the organisers have decided not to seek a replacement for the Guy Fawkes night concert.
(‘onlirmed bands for November and December include Fra lira Sound from Surinam mixing South American. African and liuropean sounds; Zaire's Soukous Stars with dancers; the Pan- African music of Dude Krama; Western roots fusion with Cameroon's Baka people in Baku Beyond. and even a St Andrew‘s evening led by Sho' ()gle Nifty. (Norman Chalmers)
Jur: Jamaica and Firm Kulmve ])/(l\' the A ‘SM’Hlll/V Rooms. [z'r/r'rrbrrrg/r on Fri /3 (UN, .Iltrnsrurr Seek plays the mine venue on Thurs l9.
My Martin 0-18, £67053, has been
missing since 1972. If you have information, please contact me. No questions asked. Reward.
You could infer from that sleevenote on Janis Ian’s current LP, Revenge, that the singer has a problem with
letting go of the past, but the
evidence suggests the contrary. It’s at the behest of her audiences that she’s reintroduced to her set older numbers like ‘At Seventeen’, which endeared her to a generation of angst-ridden adolescents.
‘I know I wrote it,’ she says, ‘I know it’s my song, but it doesn’t sound like
, it belongs to me any more, so I sing it
and all of a sudden they’re 25 and
there for them.’ :
,;‘,' : got 3 mt of the garbage out of the way
differently. Some of the real old stuff, they’re like kids. You look at your kids
they’ve got kids of their own, but you still love them a lot and you’re still
The inter-racial love song ‘Society’s Child’ made her a star at fourteen (‘l
early,’ she says of her precocious
fame. ‘I’m grateful for it’) and staked
out her lyrical territory of sensuality
and social commentary. Without ' realising it, she led the way for women i by not only singing her own often
controversial material but by taking control over the arrangements. She
almost broke new ground in 1993 too — intentionally this time — by being the
first mainstream performer to come
out asa lesbian, ‘but kd lang beat us
Janis Ian: still there for her old songs
by three months’.
This is Ian’s first British tour for twelve years, during which time she’s based herself in Nashville, ‘3 real
‘ writers’ town’, taken breaks from
performing to concentrate on writing
and thrown herself into the wider world of the arts. ‘It knocks any sense
of arrogance right out of you,’ she
says. But did she need that?
‘I think I needed someone like Stella : Adler [who guided her through drama and literature] to say it’s the most wonderful thing in the world to be an artist, but it’s also the most horrifying, that you’re allowed to run the gamut from being humble to being arrogant.’ (Alastair Mabbott)
Janis Ian plays The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Wed 11.
:A very special
In choosing not to have an artistic director as such, the SC!) is in the rather more flexible position of being able to recognise those musicians who are especially close to its heart with the creation of prestigious roles just for them. At the moment, that of Chief Guest Conductor is held by Sir Charles Mackerras, a conductor with whom the orchestra enjoys a particularly close relationship and who just happens to be 70 this year. Helping him to celebrate, the SCO has invited Sir Charles to conduct a concert performance of Mozart’s opera Die Enfuhrung aus dem Serail
( The Abduction from the Seraglio) complete with a starry line-up of soloists.
‘Sir Charles has been our Chief Guest Conductor since 1992,’ explains the orchestra’s Managing Director Roy McEwan, ‘and for the last few years we’ve been working together both in concerts and recordings of Mozart operas. The first was The Magic Flute, then Cosi fan tutte and Figaro, and Don Giovanni is coming out next year.’ Sir Charles, however, is not at all restricted in the repertoire he conducts. ‘He’s got an amazingly wide repertoire and is a specialist in so many different fields. For instance, he’s recognised as a Janacek
A Sat 14.
mor- . Once in a blue moon
t Kenny Mathieson looks forward to an intimate
l evening with Nanci Griffith.
It is. as they say. an ill-divided vvorld. this roots music scene. (ircat singer-
songwriters like (luy (‘lark or Steve Young play to modest audiences (and sometimes worse) in (ilasgow and
i Edinburgh. while .\lary (‘liapin ('arpenter and Nanci (lriffttlr. working
in broadly similar idioms. btrt with big rock bands for company. lill multiple- night runs at our biggest venues.
'l‘hat connection maybe more obvious when (iriflith plays her acoustic retrospective concert without the added power and sheen of'l‘he Blue Moon ()rchestra. btrt she has no ready explanation for this disparity in i audience appeal.
‘No. I never have tried to analyse it.
It's a blessing. and l'nr grateful for it. and very proud of it. I'm kinda stubborn. and 1 don't go away. but there has never been a commercial master plan — in fact. it‘s probably just the opposite. l've shot myself in the foot commercially more times than any other artist I know'
Griffith‘s determination to plot her own course through the music business has been evident throughout a career which began as a solo singer on the J
Sir Charles Mackerras: 70 this year
specialist, but he’s one of the most highly regarded Handel and Mozart interpreters,’ says McEwan. Born in the USA of Australian parents, Sir Charles has conducted and recorded throughout the world, winning numerous awards and honours. Although orchestral musicians are notoriously critical of their conductors, there is no such feeling between the SCO and Mackerras. ‘It’s become a bit of a love affair,’ says McEwan. ‘He really only has one interest and that is doing music in the best possible way. And our players feel exactly the same.’ (Carol Main) Sir Charles Mackerras conducts the $00 in Die Enfuhrung aus dem Serail at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow on Fri 13 and the Usher Ila/I, Edinburgh on
30 The List 6- l9 Oct I995