There will be few gentlemen to be found in Scotland‘s future Parliament building next Friday night. ifyou accept the deﬁnition of a gentleman as someone who can play the bagpipe ~ but doesn't.
A world-class selection of pipers reveals the depth. breadth and emerging freedom of Scottish music on the great Highland pipe. the smaller bellows-blown Lowland or Border bagpipe. and the small pipes. all of which are being played world-wide in greater numbers than ever. A recital on the Highland pipes by Gordon Duncan. Angus MacColl and Alan MacDonald would impress any living piper. all three being regarded as virtuosi.
Fred Morrison. now playing in Capercaillie. is another prize-winning exponent of the big pipes. but in this concert also perfomis on a Lowland set. Gordon Mooney has done more than anyone to reassert the Lowland or Border instrument and its distinct repertoire and playing style. I asked the youngster of the bunch. rnulti-instrumentalist Martyn Bennett. about his role in the event.
‘Well. l‘m not the piper l was? ill be playing solo small pipes. and playing some old tunes. old Gaelic songs and dance airs. and some modern pieces irr strange timings. btrt not too far out. And l think I'll play the pipe part of a new work I‘ve written for a sextet: the Edinburgh Quartet. Tom Bancroft on percussion. and the small pipes.‘
Already recorded. Martyn's album of cross- cultural collisions. sequenced dance dub backing tracks and extreme piping is scheduled for January release, but you can experience that aspect of his live music-making when he supports Shooglenifty on St Andrew's Night. (Norman Chalmers)
The Edinburgh Collogue Piping Concert takes place at the 01d Royal High School. Edinburgh on Fri I 0.‘ Martyn Bennett plays with Shoo gleniftv at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh on Thurs 30.
The sound of the crowd (hopefully)
From heroes to zeros and back again. The Human League have seen it all. And as for their new lease of life, reckons Philip Dorward, they owe it all to Viz.
In 198 l. The Human League were the most powerful UK pop act in the world. The potent mixture of Philip Oakey’s manic hair and the most glam-damn- sexy singers that ever graced a band in Susan Sulley (blond) and Joanne Catherall (brunette) meant that their third album. Dare. developed into a veritable feast ofelectro-pop Number Ones, both here and in the States.
Various peaks and troughs followed over the decade. before they found themselves skint after ploughing most oftheir money into building a studio in their home town of Sheffield. After their seventh. and seemingly most crap album. Romantic f’. they were unceremoniously dumped by their long-standing record label. Virgin. Just when it seemed that it was over. they were saved by that bastion ofcivility. Vi: magazine. Their half-page cartoon. ‘The Human League In Outer Space‘. suddenly gave them the credibility that they seemed to lack.
‘Vi: was very ﬂattering and good. because it came at a time when we thought that we were possibly the most unpopular and untrendy band in the world.‘ claims an extremely excitable Sulley. ‘The late 80s and early 90s were like. “Oh. my God! This is it. it‘s all over. people don‘t like our music any more." But it doesn‘t always end up working out like that. and we can now
look back on it and see it as a learning experience. As a way of thanks. we've pttt our Vi.~ characters on the T—shirts for otrr new gigs’.‘
The tour comes on the back of this year's extremely credible Octopus album and the brace of hits it spawned. To launch their first tour in eight years. i there was. however. the inevitable clash with modernity. The bog-standard to i Snap‘s remix of the classic ‘Don‘t You Want Me' was ‘whose stupid idea was that'." Actually. it was the hands. because they believe they have to nrove I with the times. ()h. and they like it.
‘We will always try to be modern. We won‘t necessarily be trltrut-fashionable. . because l‘m not sure how many times I you can do that in a career. I think you
t l i
should always change. l mean. I‘m glad I‘m not the same person as l was when l was seventeen. or even 30. There are still going to be obvious things that keep the group the same. like the personnel and the music. btrt l‘d prefer to think that The Human League are always moving on.‘
For the time being. The Human League have escaped the pop rut. They . claim. after the trials and tribulations of ‘1 the past decade. this period of the group
The Human League: born to shop has been the most enjoyable. They are now looking forward to doing what they do best: making records. touring and. erm. shopping in Glasgow.
‘The last time we went to Glasgow, we spent the whole day shopping. As i rernetnber. Philip came away with 97 shopping bags from lchi Ni San. l'm looking at Joanne now. and she‘s actually got on a jumper that she bought that day. I love Scotland. and l‘m not just saying that. I love their honesty. I think that'the more north you go. the more straightforward people
3 are. and if they don‘t like something
they‘ll tell you. i hope that they‘re not
i trying to tell us something by the poor : ticket sales in Scotland for the tour I
mean. obviously. I like the straightforward approach. but not that
; straightforward. because l want them to come and see the show. I don‘t know
what we‘ve done to the Scots. bttt we really do love you. Please come and see trs. we'll do our best to put on a good show. Please. please. please!‘
With pop stars prostrate at our feel. is ho says Scots have no powerl’ The Human League play The Usher Hall. Edinburgh on Wed 5‘ and T/lt’ Bili'l'tllt‘llllld. (i/as‘gmt' on I'll ll).
am- Not so naive
Pianist David Milligan has been making quite a name for himself on the Scottish jazz scene since returning to Edinburgh in 1993. He is equally at home accompanying visiting mainstreamars like Scott Hamilton or Buddy De Franco and playing in the more contemporary mode which his quartet will explore on their first Scottish tour this month.
Brought up in the Borders, he is at a loss to identify where his interest in jazz came from, although he does recall trying to reproduce a particular Oscar Peterson album as a youngster. He played in rock bands while at school, and discovered Weather Report, but signed up on the jazz course at leads College while still remaining ‘naive about what was out there’.
David Mllligan: rising star
No longer. His four years in Leeds filled in many of those gaps, and while he feels he has still only really scratched the surface, he emerged as a highly accomplished technician (he will be one of the tutors when the new National Jazz Institute launches in Glasgow in January) and a fluent,
expressive improviser. His first tour will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that talent.
“We will play mainly original material written by myself or Phil Bancroft, and I’m really looking forward to having that kind of continuity. i want to try to keep working with this band, and concentrate on writing rather than just playing standards.’
in addition to his quartet, which features both Phil and Tom Bancroft with fellow Borderer Brian Shiels on bass, David has a more folk-orientated band with Corrina Hewat, Bachue Cafe. Their first album should be available later in the year.
‘We started out in a fairly experimental way intending just to see where it went, and it turned in more of a folk direction, although maybe the folk audience would actually hear it as iazz - I can’t tell anymore!’ (Kenny Mathieson)
The David Milligan auarfef play at The Queen ’8 Ila/I, Edinburgh, on Fri 10, followed by a five-date tour from Man 20.
3‘ Th9 ' icf Kins: IODK