live reviews

JAZZ Chico Freeman Quartet

Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Sun 5 Jul *tk

Chico Freeman has an impressive jazz pedigree, both in his family connections - his father is the great Chicago tenor man Von Freeman - and in his own career associations, which stretch from the avant-garde explorations of his classic early albums in the 705 through to the funk and ethnic directions of his electric bands.

On this occasion, he was in strictly acoustic jazz mode with his current high-level quartet, and if the gig perhaps lacked the final spark which would have made it a really memorable near-finale to what has been a conspicuously successful re- birth for the Glasgow International Jazz Festival, it provided a solidly enjoyable two hours of inventive contemporary jazz.

Apart from the concluding version of 'On Green Dolphin Street' and a tune called ’T he Long Goodbye’, the material was all written by Freeman or pianist George Cables. The saxophonist's beautiful ballad ‘To Hear A Teardrop In The Rain’ was particularly striking, but uptempo material like Cables’s 'Double Or Nothing' and Freeman's 'Judgement' made excellent launching pads for the band, underpinned by Santi Debriani’s resourceful and inventive bass

playing and the wonderful drumming of the great Victor Lewis, whose extended drum solo was a model of musicality rather than the usual flailing display of

athletic prowess.

In a less expected departure, Freeman chose to introduce the band by conducting a mock interview with each, and invited the audience to pose their own

Chico Freeman: sax to the max

questions. Responses ranged from the usual (why did you chose your instrument? and who were your influences? through to are you married? and - more

mysteriously, if topical - did you play football for

Brazil?), both addressed to the Panamanian-born Debriano. The answer is no, in case you were wondering. (Kenny Mathieson)

POP Lloyd Cole

Musselburgh: Brunton Theatre

ii * irfi

Once upon a time Lloyd Cole wanted to be a cross between Lou Reed and Tom Verlaine. Louche and urbane, he wore his heart on his polo-neck, sounded old before his time and name- dropped like billy-o. The would-be bohos, who picked the names up and traded them in for Penguin Modern Classics, grew up to be the well-read bunch of thirty-somethings who made

44 THE UST 9-23 Jul 1998

Lloyd Cole: vibe conductor

up the bulk of this sold-out, Sit-down audience, enthu5iastic to relive old romances culled from Cole’s back pages. 'One Man, One GUitar, Lots Of Songs' read the legend on the poster, self-consciously embracmg trouba- dourdom. Sure enough, Lloyd sloped on looking like a Maths teacher playing the end of term dance before strumming out a magnificent cover of Mick 'n’ Keef's 'You Can't Always Get What You Want’.

What followed was a perfect mix of songs old, new, borrowed and blue,

that showed off both Cole's limitations as a singer and his songwriting talent -< he has penned at least one classic. More important was Cole's neat and unforced line in self-deprecation, as he repeatedly asked his iiiutely enraptured audience whether 'the Vibe’ was okay. Along the way were a series of false starts, botched solos and nervous chuntering Ah, but there was also ’Perfect Skin', ’Brand New Friend' and 'Jennifer She Said’ from the Commotions days, a slew of new songs highlighted by the autobiographical 'I Tried To Rock’ and a host of covers, most touching of which was a suitably delicate version of Bette Midler's 'The Rose'

Crumpled, cool and over 30, Cole won the day With his honesty Which was why he was dragged back for a request spot encore. And, as grown men who should know better went back to after-hours bars to discuss their favourites favourite (and who wrote it), it seemed there was life in the old dog yet. All of which bodes well for Cole’s autumn return With his new band The Negatives. Growmg old gracefully has never sounded so youthful. (NGII Cooper‘i


Nils Petter Molvaer

Glasgow: Old Fruitmarket, Sun 5 Jul ****

The Glasgow International Jazz Festival closed its main stage programme With a band which both recycled directions initially explored in the 70s, and looked forward to possible new routes for the music into the next decade. Nils Petter Molvaer has acknowledged that Miles Davis's densely textured electric bands of the early 705 were a primary influence on the directions explored in his Khmer album, and that was reflected here in the way that his short, deliberately non-Virtu05ic trumpet phrases cut across the dark morass of electric guitar, bass, two drummers and the samples and turntable manipulations of DJ Strangefruit.

He even sounded like Miles occasionally, but for the most part found his own voice Within the evolving context of the music. There were times, too, when the soundscape recalled not so much Miles as the prog- rock proclivities of the likes of Hawkwind from that era (and not only in the ever-present dry ice and lighting effects). But that retro feel was balanced by a much more contemporary slant Which drew on 90s sounds like trip-hop and drum ’n' bass, and threw them all into an exhilarating Juxtaposition.

The musrc came over With great power in the live setting, with Molvaer’s plangent, sharp-edged trumpet much to the fore, propelled by the dark, often savage textural interplay thrown up by guitarist Eivind Aarseth, a plethora of electronic effects, Auden Erlien's electric bass and the relentless groove and shifting percussive colours of drummers Per Lindvall and Rune Amesen.

Interestingly, Molvaer’s experiments come at a time when a spate of re- issues of Miles’s early 705 live albums (and Bill Laswell's re-mix project on some of the contemporaneous studio music in Pantha/assa) have sparked a considerable re-assessment of his music of that period, which was much maligned and misunderstood at the time. The time seems ripe for the Norwegian to take up that challenge, and on the evidence of this gig, there is plenty of mileage left in it yet. (Kenny Mathieson)

Nils Petter Molvaer: Norwegian know-how

STAR RATINGS * t i it * Unmissable * * a it Very good '1: it 1* Worth a shot at * Below average it You've been warned