Jesus Alemany: back to the roots
The Cuban influence on jazz is a long- standing and well-documented one. Trumpeter Jesus Aletnany has logged up a fair bit of jazz experience himself. as even a cursory listen to his bold soloing style will confirm. but chooses to celebrate a purer form of Cuban dance rhythms in his scintillating (.‘u/mrii.snm.’ project.
The trumpeter. now resident in London but still with strong roots in Cuba. went into a Havana studio with a stellar Cuban band to lay down the Culuuu'smn.’ album in I995 (the band included Alfredo Rodriguez. and Alemany returns the compliment on the pianist's just-issued Cuba Linde. both from Rykodisc). lts release this year brought huge praise for its electrifying combination of sophisticated soloing over a succession of authentic Cuban rhythms like danzon. guaracha-son. guanguanco. tumbao. rhumba. cha cha and the more recent pa‘ca.
‘There are so many styles of Cuban music that are hardly known outside of Cuba. and I wanted to show people how varied the music can be. The musicians all knew each other. but the band did not even rehearse before we recorded — i wanted the whole thing to be completely free. a real (lesr'anea. which is a jatn session.‘
Alemany was a long-time member of Sierra Maestra. the band generally credited with reviving interest in traditional Cuban music on the island. He was only ft fteen when he joined them in l978. but his musical apprenticeship also took in a spell with jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba in the early 80s. and a tough gig with the house band at the Tropicana Cabaret. where he learned ‘the endurance to play hard!’
All ofthese influences can be heard in his music. but the basic premise of Culumismn.’ (which means something uniquely Cuban) is rooted in playing pure instrumental dance music. and taking that national sound to a wider audience. He has assembled a new band to play live. and is out to conﬁrm his belief that ‘music is a very natural thing in Cuba. and our identity is becoming strong again‘. (Kenny
Jesus Alenuury's C ubunisnm.’ play the Assembly Rooms. Edinburgh. Fri /5 Nov.
ma:— Altar states
The story so tar: ex-Pixie Kim Deal ropes sister Kelley in to play guitar tor The Breeders; the unavailability ot bassist Jo Wiggs spurs Kim to start a new solo project, The Amps; Kelley participates but the debilitating ettects ot a heroin habit force her to pull out; after rehab, she starts her own band, The Kelley Deal 6000, whose territic album, 00 To The Sugar Altar, trankly knocks spots oil the Amps’ ettort.
lot that there’s any intense rivalry between Kim and Kelley. ‘l’m sure that there’s something there, because we are sisters and we’d be living in a vacuum it we weren’t aware at it,’ Kelley acknowledges. ‘But I don’t think rivalry is a good word, because the connotation is pretty negative, whereas there’s a lot of positive stuff too. I’m excited about her stuff. I’m a tan.’
Healthy competition, then. Until the K06000 establish themselves, tamilial links and Kelley’s smack-ridden past are likely to continue being the predominant topics of band coverage. Surprisingly, rather than seeing it either as a necessary evil or an intrusive irrelevance to have her drug dependence splashed all over the press, she doesn’t give a shit either way.
Kelley Dee! 6000: disco sucks, long live lounging!
‘You know, the idea of it bothering me is really attractive to me, and I don’t know why that is. I guess it would show some depth of character, or something like that. But, to be honest, I don’t care what’s splashed and what’s not. I guess I’m so detached from it that it’s not like it’s even me that’s being talked about. I was in Rhode Island doing a video and someone heard on the radio that I was a militant lesbian. My quote about that was that I’m too lazy to be a militant anything. I’m a militant Iounger!’
Any tamous last words? ‘0isco sucks. It sucked then and it sucks now. Now, are there any questions about that?’ (Alastair Mabbott)
The Kelley Deal 6000 play Cathouse, Glasgow, Fri 22 Nov.
Rock ’n’ roll isn’t exactly over- burdened with pianos. Sure, in the early days it was a principal vessel tor the Devil’s music: ‘Johnny B Goode’s’ timeless ritt was written on a set of ivories. But nowadays the old Joanna is either gathering dust, or being wept on by purveyors of mincing sensitivity like Tori Amos.
Enter the Ben Folds Five (though there’s only three at them) - a not-so- standard piano/bass/drums set-up virtually quivering with melody harmony and sunny-side up all- American attitude. In conversation, Ben Folds feels good: ‘I see the tuture like this: cha cha choooo!‘ Really? ‘Yeah, I teel pretty good.’
Ben elucidates: ‘I think I’m well- adjusted, well, I’m not suicidal. Actually I’m pretty moody. Happiness isn’t really happy unless there’s something slightly sad in it anyway. We have a three-dimensional way of looking at music, so I’m glad everyone
Ben Folds Five: cha cha choooo. apparently
thinks our music is happy. I know they won’t think that about our second album.’
The Ben Folds Five’s recent single ‘Underground’ is a perfect introduction to their startling way of writing. Ben agrees: ‘ Yeah, I think we’re interested in innovating in a small way. We wanted our rock to be energetic, moving and mean- something, but I was too sell- conscious to do all that rock-star shit on the guitar - the piano just telt right. I feel like we’re really pushing the artistic envelope. Maybe we’ve pushed too tar!’
Possiny - pianos haven’t exactly got much recent musical pedigree to their name. ‘Well, the thing about rock music is it’s music tor poor people, it’s just played by people who can’t afford to move a piano around. It’s more working class to carry a guitar around. We manage it, iust.’
Live, the Ben doesn’t exactly treat the venerable instrument with the respect it deserves. Ben laughs: ‘Well, it’s a tough instrument, it can take a lot - especially it you rent them.’ (Phil Miller)
Ben Folds Five play King Tut’s, Glasgow, Fri. ﬂ Nov.
Among the unusual combinations of instruments which appear on these pages from time to time. soprano saxophone and harpsichord must surely be a contender for one of the ntost unlikely pairings. But saxophonist John Harle. the most recorded classical saxophonist in the world. has never been averse to pushing the instrument beyond its conventional boundaries. and music for harpsichord and saxophone is only part of his forthcoming programme with pianist/ composer Richard Rodney Bennett and leading Scotland based instrumentalists.
Harle has transcribed the songs of the Elizabethan composer John Dowland. the composer who has already given inspiration for arrangements of songs for Elvis Costello on Harle‘s new album. Terror And Mugniliewtce. ‘lt's contemporary music with ancient words.‘ he says as he drives towards Devon for some pie-Scottish performances. ‘l'm attracted to the mystical. dark side of Elizabethan life. and the peculiar collision of soprano saxophone and harpsichord is a very interesting one for me. It has a sort of purity. a very clear tone almost like a siren song.‘
The saxophone is. of course. best known as ajazl. instrument and showing that inﬂuence is the l930s Hut Smut/u by the German composer Ervin Schulhoff. ‘lt's a major rediscovery.‘ says Harle. ‘lt's been forgotten for years. so Richard and l are going around clmmpioning it.‘
A composer as well as an instrumentalist. Harle is very concerned about the development of new music as the millennium approaches. ‘We have to be careful of a new conservatism and reactionary force which might be. for example. that tonality has to be brought back simply because a sponsor wants it rather than the composer feels it deeply. After fifteen years of conservative government. there's a conformity being battered into artists which should be resisted at all costs.‘ (Carol Main) .lrt/m Harle urul Ric/turd Rllllllt’_\‘ [fennel/play RSAMI). (I/usgmr. I’ri l5; Queen's Hull. Edinburgh. Sun [7.
John Harle: resisting contonnlty at all costs
M The List 15-28 Nov 1996