ax and the city

The SOUNDCHECK jazz festival will restore a sense of adventure to jaded ears as top American exponents and the cream of local talent get experimental as anything.

Words: Kenny Mathieson

The most exciting event to hit the Scottish scene in some time. Soundcheck is a pioneering mini- l'estival which looks likely to live tip to its sub-title. ‘adventures in contemporary ja/J‘. This joint venture between Assembly Direct and Glasgow‘s (‘entre for Contemporary .Arts will he the last event to take place in the (.‘CA‘s Sauchiehall Street premises before it closes for a massive two-year renovation.

Last year. Soundcheck was a one-day event in Edinburgh. but the stakes have been raised considerably. It now stretches over four days. and brings in top American names alongside the best of the local talent. The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra will parade their composer's wing on the opening night. with a number ol‘ new commissioned pieces on the topical theme of Great Scots. while three more home-based projects will share double bills (and in one case. the stage) with American visitors.

The keynote of these projects will he experimentation. and a willingness to push beyond the received boundaries of the genre. They won't always be easy listening. but any efforts made will be rewarded with an experience that blander consumer music cannot replicate. In addition to the folk-influenced explorations of Phil Bancrol‘t‘s Quartet and a fascinating duet featuring young Scottiin pianist Paul Harrison and American saxman Chris Potter. bassist Dave Conway will launch a twin-keyboard quartet with Harrison and Dave Troughton which will venture into the soundworld ol‘ drum & bass. Harrison has also explored that genre with his Rarel'action trio.

‘What we are doing comes more from the .mum/ than from the rhythms of drum & bass.‘ he explains. ‘We are using electronic keyboards and sounds. and Dave wants it to be as freely improvised as possible. That LTJ Bukem sound has been quite inl'luential on what I'm trying to do with Rarel'action. but I‘m coming at it from a jazz direction. and it's evolving all the time. We try to keep it pretty spontaneous. and


'l've always been interested in music on the fringes of genre. I'm not trying to protect a particular legacy of music, I just want to make a sincere statement.’ Dave Douglas

Puff daddy: Dave Douglas

leave plenty of room for grooves and solos to develop.‘

That experimental spirit will be equally evident in the work ol‘ the visiting ."\mericans. 'l'romhonist Ray Anderson's BassDrumBone is a mould-breaking group. while Dave Douglas‘s Tiny Bell Trio moves even further away from ja/./.. incorporating [European classical and Balkan folk music alongside more obviously American sources.

‘l‘ve always been interested in music on the l'ringes ot' says trumpet player Douglas. ‘l‘m not trying to protect a particular legacy of music. We have all assimilated so much Inusic now -— we can hear anything we want. and respond to whatever touches us. The Balkan influence was


discovering that music. and then the struggle of trying to integrate it into my own \oice in a way that would make a sincere statement.‘ On the face of it. the Steve Swallow Quintet seems the most conventional ol' the hands in Soundcheek. hut surprises lie in store. Their rationale. as laid out on the wonderful Du'unsn'ncm/ album. is to take the music of the so-called (iolden Age -—< Kern. Gershwin. Arlen. Porter and radically remake it. forging fresh new sounds in the process. lintirely in keeping with the Soundcheck ethos in tact.

Soundcheck is at the CCA, Glasgow, Fri 2—Mon 5 Apr. See Jazz listings for performance details.

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Surface noise

News mongered, tittle tattled

SUCKLE, THE BAND featured in Exposure last issue, have signed a long-term deal with Glasgow independent label, Chemikal Underground. A single is pencilled in for the autumn, with a debut album expected by the end of the year.

Suckle is the new project of Frances McKee, ex of cult 805 band The Vaselines. The six-piece, which also features McKee's sister Marie, mixes the off-kilter pop of the Velvet Underground with a folksy vibe.

The band join Mogwai, The Delgados, Magoo and Cha Cha Cohen on the Chemikal Underground roster. ’We’re really, really chuffed to have them on board,’ says the label‘s Emma Pollock, who also plays with The Delgados. ’We’ve celebrated by opening a box of Roses.’

LITTLE FEAT HAVE been forced to pull out of their scheduled appearance at Edinburgh's Capital Blues Festival on Sun 2 May. The American band, who were at the height of their fame in the 705 when they recorded such classic albums as Dixie Chicken, have cancelled due to illness. Lead guitarist and vocalist Paul Barrere has just undergone a discetomy operation on his spine and has been advised by doctors not to fly.

The band issued this statement: ’Paul Barrere and Little Feat are truly disappointed that they are not going to play Edinburgh due to Paul being advised that the journey would be risky to him, but we are sure that his fans around the world would rather he waited until he is back at his best before touring.’

The Festival organisers are currently seeking a replacement act, but fans attending the event principally for Little Feat can seek refunds at the outlet they bought tickets from.

The Capital Blues Festival, which takes place at Murrayfield Ice Rink in Edinburgh on Sat 1 & Sun 2 May, has a line-up of thirteen acts including Legends Of The Delta Blues and Legends Of The Chicago Blues. Call 01333 311874 for further information.

Suckle: chocolate inspirations

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