The King Edinburgh: Liquid Rooms, Thu 3 Dec.
The King is alive. The King is well. And The King is working happily as a postman on the soul-scorched mean streets of downtown Belfast. No, really. It's true. Just ask Jim Brown, he’ll tell you . . . ‘The whole idea started when, one day, I started to imagine what Elvis would be like if he was still alive,’ says the former postie who sweats, gums and gyrates ’neath the mighty royal mantle. ’What songs would he sing? Who would he be a fan of? Then I came up with the idea of The King — an Elvis impersonator who only sings songs by dead people. The King is Elvis dragged into the 21st century.’
Like many nascent rockers and, indeed, most soon-to-be rollers, a seven-year-old Jim found himself caught in a road-to-Damascus style pop Epiphany while glued to the telly one dark night. The source of such youthful excitement?
’It was Elvis’ 68 Comeback Special,’ sighs the now-30 something, his deep North Irish rumble softening at the memory. 'It had an incredibly profound effect on me. Elvis was the ultimate showman. He had the most amazing voice and was the most beautiful star I had ever seen. I was totally blown away.’
Although rock 'n' roll's luscious curves proved a tempting distraction, it was the primal lure of the Royal Mail that would lead Jim from the path of goodness and
light. Until, that is, one wet Sunday afternoon a couple . ’My aunt had dragged me along to a local live karaoke club. Without telling me she put my name forward and before I had time to think I was on
of years ago . .
stage singing "Suspicious Minds".'
The reaction, suffice to say, was phenomenal - leading to a string of tumultuously-received cabaret spots. His King-based brainstorm would shortly follow and the rest, as absolutely nobody says anymore, is history. Not everyone, however, is grooving to The King's leather—
The man who would be King
bound grave-rave. Some starched-collar detractors have levelled cries of ’kitsch’ and 'crass’ at his Grave/ands album (which includes, among others, versions of Nirvana's ’Come As You Are' and Hendrix's ’Voodoo
Chile') as if injecting some humour into music is
tantamount to puppy-centred necrophilia. But, to these myopic fools, The King offers the ultimate retort: ’Elvis had a great sense of humour. and will be up in Heaven laughing himself silly. I bet he just loves The King.’ (Sarah Dempster)
Evan Parker Electro- Acoustic Ensemble Glasgow: CCA, Tue 8 & Wed 9 Dec.
Evan Parker: flexing the fringes
Evan Parker’s solo concerts at the CCA in May are now followed by a rare opportunity to hear his Electro- Ac0ustic Ensemble perform live, courtesy of support from EClvl, who plan to make a live recording in the course of the saxophonist's British tour Parker holds a pie-eminent position in the arcane world of free improwsation, a music with little or no commercial clout, but endless scope for invention and experiment.
The growth of the free improwsation scene paralleled the development of free Jazz in the 60s, although the connections between the two are often tenuous or non-existent Parker himself recognises the confusion and has acknowledged that many of those coming to tree improwsation from a background in art rock, nOise music, electronic music or contemporary composmon 'fincl the whole connection with iazz mysterious — they find it all a bit quaint, or hard to see why we bother'
Parker's own attitude has always been open-minded in that regard, and he has worked to dismantle
preconceptions not only about generic influences, but about the whole nature of composition and imprOVIsation, and the relationship between the two. His EIectro-Acoustic Ensemble, first formed in 1992, is a focus for many of his characteristic concerns, extending his long-standing fascination With electronics by opening up a greater opportunity to explore the potential of live electronics and sound processmg Within the improwsation process, utilismg the more sophisticated technology now available.
He has convened a group of musiCians with diverse backgrounds for the protect, which features live electronics from Walter Prati and Marco Vecchi, subtely integrated With Parker's saxophone, Barry Guy on bass, Paul Lytton on percussmn, and Philipp Wachsrnann on Violin and viola. The combination permits Wide-ranging manipulations of texture, space, colour and timbre which push the music, as the title of his preVious ECM album With the group has it, Towards The Margins. (Kenny Mathieson)
CLASSICAL New Zealand, New Music
Edinburgh: various venues, until Sat 5 Dec.
Marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the city of Dunedin by Scottish Free Church settlers, New Zealand, New Music is a brand new festival featuring music by present day New Zealand composers. The brain- child of New Zealand born but long- time Scottish resident composer Lyell Cresswell, the festivities feature four concerts which culminate with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a full scale orchestral programme.
’I started thinking about it a couple of years ago, and from talking to peOple, I felt there was some interest,’ says Cresswell. ’Then when I approached the BBC, they were interested, and then so was ECAT (Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust), who are promoting the festival, and then it all grew from there.’
Money started to come in to fund the event, including some from Creative New Zealand, the equivalent of the Scottish Arts CounCiI, which has also put up funding.
'The main point of the festival is to show that there is something going on in New Zealand,’ Lyell Cresswell. 'lt’s very diverse and we've tried to show that, but of course we can't do everything, so, for instance, there is no vocal mUSic.’
However, elecro-acoustic music, a piano recnal, chamber music from Hebrides Ensemble and the BBC SSO’s performance certainly give a good flavour of what is happening. 'In the orchestral concert, there's a piece by Gillian Whitehead. It's very thoughtful and reflects her interest in musical processes. But there is also Jack Body, who is interested in mu5ic from different cultures and then, entirely different, is music that takes its inspiration from ancient Greece,’ continues Cresswell.
The New Zealander’s own mum, in the form of the orchestral piece Sa/m, is also included as well as a new ECAT commission. Cresswell is proud of how a Scottish audience will be able to experience the first performance of music commiSSioned here but written in New Zealand.
'We want to prove that there is actually some life down there,‘ he says. (Carol Main)
a See Classical listings for further details.
Lyell Cresswell: bringing up the cream from down under
3—17 Dec 1998 THE UST55