Juan Martin invites you to feel the Flamenco heat

Injecting some authentic Spanish warmth into a cold Scottish November is guitarist Juan Martin who brings the captivating world of flamenco to Glasgow arid Edinburgh this fortnight. Surprisingly a relatively young type of music a babe in arms at a mere 200 years old flamenco has influences from rnttch more ancient cultures than the Western litrropean. and Jttan Martin and his Musica Alhambra ensemble will explore these. ‘We start off with a solo composition of mine inspired by the great ravine of my home town of Ronda in the south of Spain' he says. adding. ‘l-'lamenco is far more about cracked earth than the Costa del Sol. Then there's lz'vot'aeion r/e le invasion ara/re a lispana. This is about the Moorish invasion of Spain. They came in 7| I and there were eight centuries of lslarnic rtrle which had a great influence on the music of Spain.'

()f most interest to Juan Martin is the shared heritage flamenco has with the music of these early centuries. The section of the programme entitled 'lil Legado Andaltrsi‘ includes. for instance. a piece entitled l.(lllllll(l liar/a YleI/lellu (When She Begins lo Sir-av) which. for Juan Martin. evokes an age of great elegance. ‘We have a feeling of what music was like in Spain when the Alhambra was built.’ he explains. 'It's a wonderful feeling of leisure.’

As for the future. Juan Martin is wary about new influences. ‘Jazzed up sounds in flamenco are not necessary. It‘s very powerful and potent as it is and we need to intensify its essence by going back to the shared heritage. To go forward. we have to go backwards lirst.‘ (Carol Main)

Juan Martin plays C ity Hall. Glasgow; Sal 2.‘ Queen 3' Hall. Edinburgh. Sun 3.

Colvin’s callrng

Shawn Colvin is one of those singer- songwriters who really cannot be filed under a specific genre. ller voice is reminiscent of a gutsier Suzanne Vega at times, but her music refuses to sit comfortably in any of the obvious niches - it’s not quite rock, not quite folk, not quite country. And she’s not losing any sleep over it.

‘I like all kinds of music, and I don’t really think about it. I know my limitations as a singer - I know I’m not a rock ’n’ roll singer, and never will

4 ‘3‘

Shawn Colvin: branching out


be. I guess I took my cue from 70s singers like Joni Mitchell and Richard Thompson and Bob Dylan, who were partly in the folk thing and partly rock.’

Colvin has just released her fourth album, A Few Small Repairs, which returns to her own material alter her excellent interpretations of other songwriters’ material on 1994’s Cover Girl. While some of the lyrics on the new record are obviously very personal, she feels it also marks a move away from an overtly confessional stance in her writing.

‘Most of my songs have been very rooted in personal experience in the past, but this record has some things on it which are a bit different. l’ve branched out a bit - ‘Sunny Came llome’, for example, is really based on Julie Speed’s painting on the album sleeve, it’s not about me, or anyone specific, and I’d never really done anything like that before. ‘Suicide Alley’ is kind of similar - it’s about a general feeling rather than a specific situation.

‘Sometimes I’ll write a song that seems too personal, and what I would usually do with a song like that is work on it a bit, and it will either resonate and I’ll know I was right, or I’ll make some changes so that it tells enough, but not too much. I believe completely in being truthful as a writer, but I also believe in craft, and some things need to be worked in particular ways.’ (Kenny Mathieson) Shawn Colvin plays The Arches, Blasgo w, Sat 9.

ism— Top cats

Alright, let’s get the Welsh business out the way at the start. like The Super Furry Animals, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and the 60ft Dolls, Catatonia are Welsh. That this has any particular effect on their music is debatable but people seem to think it does. Stuff and nonsense. The current musical outpourings from the valleys are as diverse as the animal parts to be found in a pie. A handful of bands does not a scene make.

However, Manics apart, Catatonia can probably lay claim to being one of the first of the current crop of Welsh bands to make themselves heard outwith their home country. Or as Cerys Matthews, their vocalist with a neat line in metaphors would have it: ‘We were the Codfathers, the road diggers, the Romans who built the road to London and the last ones to put a bloody album out.’

It may have taken a while but their album, Way Beyond Blue, is likely to win them another audience as well as that attracted by their spiky singles such as ‘Sweet Catatonia’. ‘Yeah, that was just a Trojan horse,’ cackles Matthews. ‘We’re going to evolve into something with really slow, really sad, really boring songs ’cos that’s what we’re all about really.’

It’s not and she’s ioking but tracks like the string-backed ‘lnfantile’ or the languid title track demonstrate

that Catatonia are painting from a wider palette than the riff-laden singles would suggest. ‘My favourite songs on it are the midnight hour ones. They make you feel like you’ve had an Irish coffee or an alcoholic hot chocolate,’ says Matthews while revealing what her idea of a good nightcap is. ‘With the album coming out, people will hopefully be aware of the slower songs and it will be easier to perform them the way we want it. I think we’re just going to go on tour with a harpischord player.’ Cue more throaty cackles. (Jonathan Trew) Catatonia play King Tut ’5, Glasgow, Sat 2. Way Beyond Blue is out now.


Catatonia: they’re big kittens really

[12E— Different dynamic

llomlnlc Alldls: tribute to Bill

Tributes to Bill Evans are legion. but Dominic Alldis has managed to come up with a slightly different twist on the pianist’s familiar repertory in Turn Out The Stars. He has taken the sub-title. ‘The Songs of Bill Evans’. entirely literally. and offers vocal versions of material which many listeners will know primarily as instrumental pieces.

Alldis’s slightly formal. beautifully enunciated vocals are complemented by a guest appearance from Claire Martin on one cut. and his deft. sensitive pianism is pointed up by contributions from Adam Glasser on jazz harmonica and the Pirandello String Quartet. The Evans material will feature heavily when Glasser joins him on his Scottish dates this month. along with drummer Tristan Maillot and Tommy Smith’s new bass playing discovery. Mario Caribe.

‘Mark Murphy suggested to me that I should record an album of Bill Evarrs‘s songs. and a recommendation like that is not to be ignored. Evans is such a seminal presence in the language of jazz. but I also felt that there was something in my personal musical approach that would lend itself to that material.’

The pianist is classically trained (his parents. both musicians. ‘loved to listen to jazz as a relaxation from their classical work, so the first non-classical records I ever heard were by Errol Garner and Oscar Peterson'). and he teaches jazz piano at the Royal Academy in London. an activity which he loves.

Brazilian music is another of Alldis‘s confessed passions. and he has recently taken to playing a little guitar in his set. and will do so when Glasser takes over as leader with Bra’frica (same musicians, different format) in between Alldis’s Edinburgh and Glasgow dates.

‘Piano has always been my instrument. but I feel the guitar introduces a different dynamic into the set. which is important to me. In fact. a lot of peOple who hear us seem to be picking up on the fact that we do sound a little different to the standard jazz quartet that is certainly the intention.’ (Kenny Mathieson)

The Dominic Alldis Quarter play Tron Jazz. Cellar. Edinburgh. Thurs I 4; Pizza Express. Glasgow. Sat I 6; Bra 'frica. Pizza Evpress. Glasgow. Fri I 5.

46 The List I- I4 Nov I996