Cat Power Glasgow: The 13th Note, Mon 9th Nov
There’s a new kitty on the block - Chan (pronounced 'Shan’) Marshall a.k.a. Cat Power, who has been yowling her skeletal, echoey songs of love, loss, relationships, observations and all that over the
course of four albums. The somewhat rootless US singer/songwriter has been
described as an American PJ Harvey, probably for her contemporary spin on the blues, but there are strong folk and country elements on her current album Moon Pix, recorded with Nick Cave’s buddies Mick Turner and Jim White of The Dirty Three in Melbourne. Its sparse arrangements recall campfire balladeer Michelle Shocked or a more jagged Elliott Smith.
By default. Marshall is in the classic mould of the travelling troubadour, having unwittingly followed in her father's footsteps. He pursued his musical career across the southern states and so her family would move a couple of times per year when she was growing up.
’The best place was in North Carolina, in a small town, population 600 or something,’ says Marshall. ‘I lived on a tobacco field and behind corn fields. No one was anywhere. It was all fantasy and nature.’
Now as an adult she maintains temporary bases in Atlanta and New York. Despite her upbringing, it was far from predestined that she would become a musician herself.
’My father didn’t influence me musically at all,’ she says. 'He really kept it separate from us. He was proud about it. I never thought that that would be anything I would do because it was his territory. I never really thought I'd be anything.’
It was through the encouragement of musician friends in Georgia and later New York, coupled with chance encounters with her record company Matador that she
Cat Power: coughing up a furball of fantasy and nature
found herself singing and fronting her own project. Ostensibly, Marshall is Cat Power, backed by a variety of different musicians over the past six years, including Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley.
The association with The Dirty Three will continue when Cat Power tours Britain, with Jim White on drums. But while Marshall is keen to play her first date in Scotland, she is disarmingly honest about her current feelings on touring.
In between audible yawns she says, ‘recently l'm just tired. l'm getting to that point now, because I've been touring for a month, where I don’t really give a shit about it and I can't stand it because it's the same thing every night.’
It’s unlikely that her audience will share those feelings. (Fiona Shepherd)
Brad Mehldau: from Brahms to Radiohead
reveals an even Wider-ranging sensibility — alongside the expected standards and his own compositions you Will find his Idiosyncratic treatments of Radiohead's 'EXit Music (For A Film)’ and Nick Drake's 'River Man', not exactly your routine Jazz fare.
His playing is effervescent at faster tempos, while his touch and phrasrng on ballads is elegantly controlled and gorgeously expressive. His solos flow With an organic sense of internal
‘ structure, while that classical training has left him With a finely-honed
JAZZ Brad Mehldau
Glasgow: Cottier Theatre, Sun 15 Nov.
Brad Mehldau's return to Scotland for a solo gig is one of the most eXCiting
items in the Assembly Direct programme, while the pianist himself gets more intriguing all the time. Mehldau has been here once before, With saxophonist DaVid Sanchez at the Glasgow Jazz Festival back in 1995, but he has developed a long way since then
He is probably best known here for his work With Joshua Redman
(although he had left the band by the time Redman played in Glasgow), and he shares a record company With the saxophonist. Unfortunately, Warner Bros have not seen fit to issue most of his albums in the UK market — a fate also suffered by Kenny Garrett ~ but a recent upsurge in activin at the label has brought a release for his newest disc, Songs. The Art of the Trio, Volume Three.
The pianist is classically trained, and names Brahms and Schubert alongside the likes of Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock as his main influences, A quick look at the contents of Songs
technique, and a liking for creating complex melodic constructions from simple starting pomts, whether it be a pop song or a melodic cell borrowed from Brahms.
'l’ve tried in some pieces to explore the relationships between several notes mOVing independently, rather than Just a straight melody note and chord,’ explains Mehldau. 'The idea of generating a whole composition from a small amount of thematic material is very alluring to me, and that came about from studying a lot of the contrapuntal aspects of classical musrc ’ (Kenny Mathieson)
FOLK Ed Miller
Glasgow: New Dawn Club, Thu 19 Nov; Edinburgh: Tron Folk Club, Sat 14 Nov.
’Haggis Westerns are responsible,’ states Ed Miller, the Scots singer now resident in the States. 'You know, Braveheart, Rob Roy, that sort of thing. There’s been a massive audience increase for traditional Scottish music. At Grandfather Mountain (the most famous Highland Games/Scotfest in the US) there were 50,000 people last year. I was playing one near Toronto that had 60,000!’
Not that he’s complaining. Thanks to the increase in awareness and popularity of all things Scottish, he can now shuttle across North America playing the ever-increasing number of Highland Games (an hallucinatory, over-the-top version of our local ones) and Celtic festivals.
But with an award-Winning background performing Scots traditional song, and post-graduate studies in folk culture and music at the University of Texas in Austin, Ed finds that he’s ‘an oddin at Highland Games, I might sing "Yellow On The Broom" or a simple ballad, and people come up saying they haven't heard that sort of thing before. Most of the performers there are straight out of the Andy Stewart tradition.’
But it’s not all Cadillac kilties. There is plenty of work to be had in the coffee house/folk crrcun, which is strong everywhere in the US, though not in his hometown.
’Not in Austin,’ he chuckles. 'I live in a town where there are so many world- class musiCians (SteVie Ray Vaughan has a muniCipal statue, Willie Nelson lives there) that there's no value in playing music, Superb guys are playing bars for 30 dollars.’
But it does mean that he can bring in the best side-men, like top session gUitarist Rich Brotherton. Ed even has a Scots fiddler he can call on — John Taylor, originally from Buckie, now resident in San Jose — and, although they won’t be in Scotland for Ed’s seven-date tour, audiences in Glasgow and Edinburgh Will have a taste of his Statesrde cultural melting pot when he’s jOlﬁQd by fiddler friend Lisa Gutkin for the Glasgow and Edinburgh gigs: she's a JeWish New Yorker specialising in Irish mu5ic. (Norman Chalmers)
Ed Miller: taking the lid off the Tartan
shortbread tin in the States
5—19 Nov 1998 "IE LIST 47