CLASSICAL David Helfgott Edinburgh: Queen’s Hall, Fri 29 May.
If you're thinking about going to hear David Helfgott, the pianist of Shine fame then be prepared. Not only will the evening comprise an extraordinary onstage performance but may also involve a cuddle or two, a kiss, and if you have a bouquet of flowers to hand, then so much the better. Even the emotionally controlled Japanese were moved to tears at the end of a recent concert in Osaka when a capacity audience was totally
spellbound. Helfgott, if you have not seen the film, is the extraordinary
Australian, whose tragic life story has, to put it mildly, taken a turn for the better after meeting his wife Gillian. Stopped by his domineering father from studying in the US, the teenage David rebelled against his family when a place was offered at the Royal College of Music in London. He did exceptionally well there, winning the Rachmaninov Medal, but also developed mental health problems which almost destroyed him and his promising career completely. Helfgott returned to Perth, Australia and drifted aimlessly, playing the piano in a wine bar to
make ends meet. It was here that he met Gillian and proposed to her the next day. ’He is just so beautiful,’ she says, ‘a very extraordinary man. The Japanese concert was incredibly moving. People were cheering, shouting, crying and laughing. It's as if they trust David, so they are prepared to open their hearts to
him. He is so inspirational.’
With a childlike innocence, Helfgott will, for instance, see someone in a wheelchair and spontaneously hug them. ‘He is very responsive to other people's difficulties, while at the same time thrilled to have people express their joy,’ explains Gillian.
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JAZZ Eberhard Weber Glasgow: CCA, Thu 21 May.
If the idea of solo bass recital does not set the pulses racing, then be advised that Eberhard Weber’s concept of what constitutes a solo performance is an unusual one. Like the virtuoso French guitarist Pierre Bensusan, Weber has an electronic friend on stage to help him along. The bassist uses a real time digital delay which allows him to build a subtly textured web of sound around
Helfgott’s marriage to Gillian marked the start of a new, happier phase in his life but unfortunately it didn't wipe all clouds from the horizon. Early, unkind
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David Helfgott: shining on
she alleges, 'part of a deliberate
campaign against him from Hollywood to damage l Shine.’ The worst, however, is now over and performances in Denmark had good reviews. In a wider sense, the film has, says Gillian, 'made people l think anew about mental health problems. Look at the big, romantic virtuoso pianists. Their lives are littered with suffering, but also littered with beauty.’
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Eberhard Weber: stepping outside convention
his magisterial, beautifully sonorous five-string upright eiectro-bass
'I always preferred a full, rich orchestral sound to a Single line instrument,’ explains Weber. ’The way I like to play is perhaps a little too “out” for traditional bass lovers, and while I am a jazz-orientated improwsmg musician, my main influence is from the European classical tradition of composition. It is then logical that I should have tried to sneak out of the conventional way of playing the bass.’
Weber has Cultivated his solo recitals
alongside an ongomg association vvith Jan Garbarek in the saxophonist's highly popular band While he admits to havmg a problem with drummers, 3 he demands that collabOratOrs on any ; instrument have something distinctive to offer
’l have very high standards, and l i want musiCians who think similarly to me, but not the same. I don't like the so-called normal, regular way of playing, and I love to find musicians who hate the same things I do, but also offer something else which I don't expech'
Weber’s solo recual is part of a very welcome mini-series of new mu5ic concerts at the venue, including a solo
saxophone recital from Evan Parker, and three nights of composed mu5ic by l lvlortOn Feldman and Howard Skempton, played by John Tilbury
ln addition, Kenny Wheeler, the l Canadian-born, London-based trumpeter and major Jazz composer, i Will be in Scotland to play a ; commiSSioned SUite With the Scottish ' National Jazz Orchestra at around the same time (see Listings), all of which I adds up to something of a Surfeit after a rather bare couple of months. More, please. (Kenny Mathieson)
BIG BIG COUNTRY
Glasgow: Old Fruitmarket, Wed 27 May.
Leo Kottke is the kind of guitarist who inspires other guitarists either to strain for the heights (the late Michael Hedges is j'JSl one who has admitted that hearing Kottke changed his lifel,
or hang up their Six-string and take up
something possible Now in his 505, the gUitarist has a plethora of albums and multiple shifts of miiSical direction behind him, but there is no substitute for hearing him sit down With Just his gtiitars in the kind of solo show lined up to Open Big Big Country
He is by no means a country artist (although there was a cowboy on his first guitar), and no single genre classification would be adequate to confine Kottke’s music Blues, folk, rock, clasmcal, Jazz, Latin, African, Caribbean —- you name it, and he has almost certainly played (and probably transformed) it somewhere along the line, while his dry, semi-spoken vocal monologues have become almost as recognisable a trademark
His most recent album, Standing In My Shoes, ventured into a subtle but distinctly funky exploration of beats from live and programmed percussion, a direction he acc0unted for in typically laconic fashion by explaining that ’I Just wanted to make an album I could listen to With my feet.’ At high school, Kottke was into Jazz and initially took up trombone, but his introduction to the guitar came when be contracted a serious illness, and his mother showed up one day With a present.
'My mother brought home this toy guitar - it was plywood and had a cowboy stenolled on the front. The toy gtiitar cured me, literally lwas Out of bed in a week That’s how it all started. The gtiitar came and got me. I tried other instruments, but the gtiitar was pOinted right at me I was JUSl one of those lucky people who happened to stumble over the instrument they were made to play. Everything about the gLiitar happened all at once that day, and it’s been unfolding ever Since.’ (Kenny lvlathieson)
Leo Kottke: listen with your feet
14—28 May i998 THE usr 43