Tnuscow JAZZ FESTIVAL
Glasgow: The Old Fruitmarket, Fri 2 Jul.
Tomasz Stanko has long been established as a significant name on the European jazz scene. The Polish trumpeter is widely regarded as one of the key players in the development of a European jazz aesthetic which, while it has inescapable roots in American models, has evolved in a distinctive fashion.
Stanko makes a long overdue Scottish debut at the festival, and does so with a project which has attracted a great deal of attention since the release last year of the excellent Litania (ECM), a tribute to the Polish jazz pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda. Along with Swedish saxophonist Bernt Rosengren, who is also involved in the Litania project, Stanko was a member of Komeda's band from 1963 until the pianist's premature death in 1969.
They functioned at a time when jazz was still seen as a symbol of freedom and quiet revolt from the ruling orthodoxies of Communism in Poland. Komeda was greatly influenced by the modal experiments of Miles Davis and John Coltrane (the latter is the dedicatee of the longest piece on the Litania album, ‘Night-time, Daytime Requiem'), but his 1965 album Astigmatic is often cited as an early staging post on the way to a European jazz sound.
’Komeda was very into the modal jazz system of Miles and Coltrane,’ Stanko confirms, 'but he built from this material his own language, a European form. He had his own style, but it was just natural. And it is a fact that although he kept them separate mostly, the two kinds of work he did helped each other - they vibrated together.’
That second kind of work lay in film composition. Komeda's contributions to the films of Polanksi (all of his early works, up to and including Rosemary's Baby), Wadja, Skolimowski,
Pole position: Tomasz Stanko
and more made him better known as a soundtrack composer than as a jazz musician. That connection is celebrated in the music which makes up Litania.
'Jazz was really his first love,’ Stanko says. 'His approach to the soundtracks was more business- like, although I can remember film sessions that were more like composition workshops. Very occasionally a sketch for a film would become the basis for a larger composition for the band, but not often.
'Komeda was a big personality - he was such a strong force. His music was so original, and it always gave me plenty of space for self- expression. He showed us many new directions, and he showed me how simplicity is vital, how to play the essential.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
I Readers of The List can buy two tickets for the price of one for this concert; just bring this copy of the magazine to the Jazz Festival box office in Candleriggs. Additionally, the first five people to do so will get a free CD of Tomasz Stanko’s Litania.
Nguyen Le Glasgow: The Old Fruitmarket, Thu 1 Jul.
Ukldjsic: Nguyen Le
The emergence of Nguyen Le as a major figure on the world jazz scene in the current decade has brought a fresh flavour to the jazz palette. The guitarist was born in Paris, but both his parents were Vietnamese, and the music of his ancestral homeland has formed an important strand in his work.
It reached a culmination in his Tales From Vietnam project, a
18 THE “81' 24 Jun—8 Jul 1999
melding together of Vietnamese traditional song and contemporary jazz, ancient instruments and state-of-the-art electronic sampling.
'My mother used to sing Vietnamese songs to me when I was a small child, and I dreamed of mixing jazz musicians with Vietnamese traditional musicians for a long time,’ he explains. 'In a way, it was a journey back into my lost roots, but it was also a way of creating a kind of imaginary folklore from the ancient music of Vietnam and a whole diversity of contemporary influences.’
Diversity is a keynote in Nguyen Le’s music. Rather than make a straightforward trio album, for example, he chose to feature three distinct line-ups in his Three Trios (1997) album. The guitarist saw the results as ’a suite in which each part featured a different trio'. On the more recent Maghreb And Friends (1998), he explored another avenue long implicit in his work, and one
rooted in the famously eclectic Parisian music scene, with its rich infusion of Pan-African musicians. 'Paris is like New York - it has lots of ethnic communities within the city, and they all have their music, but in Paris the different communities mix a lot more. I'm very deeply into African music — I’ve always been very interested in African music, and the relationship between the styles of black Africa and the Algerian and Moroccan music of the north. I explored some of those connections in Maghreb And Friends.’
The band he will bring to Glasgow for his Scottish debut is a trio, with Renaud Garcia-Fons — a major discovery in recent European jazz — on double bass, and Spanish percussionist Tino de Geraldo. (Kenny Mathieson)
I Readers of The List can buy two tickets for the price of one for this concert; just bring this copy of the magazine to the Jazz Festival box office in Candleriggs.
Nikki Yeah and NYJOS The Old Fruitmarket, Sun 4 Jul.
Nikki Yeoh won't actually be playing in the festival, more’s the pity, but she does have a significant contribution to make. The dazzling pianist has been one of the hot properties on the British jazz scene in the 90s, both for her work with the likes of Courtney Pine and Steve Williamson, and with her own Infinitum trio.
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland thought so too, and invited her to write a large-scale piece for them. She had already completed a commission for a ten-piece professional band for the Bath Festival in 1997, and relished the idea of moving up to the expanded spectrum of a full big band.
’Before I started writing it, I spent some time with the kids,’ she explains, ’seeing what their level was as players, and also getting to know them as
Whisper freedom: Nikki Yeoh
people, because that is a really important part of the way I like to write. That gave me a sense of how I could help them through the music, and at the same time challenge them to get beyond their reading skills.’
The first half of Quiet Freedom was performed by NYJOS last year, and the complete work will have its premiere at the MacRobert Centre (see Jazz Listings) prior to its festival performance, With the composer directing the band. The title has connotations of teenage rebellion in Yeoh’s mind, but of the more subjective kind.
'Yeah, that’s basically what it’s about, but not in the sense of taking drugs or going out and smashing things up. It’s about the kind of rebellion that kids can find through literature art or music, a kind of quiet freedom’.
’The part we did last year had lots of odd time signatures and so on, and ended with a kind of dip into the jazz tradition, almost a bebop type of thing. The second half is different again, and it will include a little flavour of reggae and drum & bass influences as well. I’m trying to get their individual voices to sing like a choir, rather than just make a conventional big band sound.’ (Kenny Mathieson)