Ray Brown Trio Edinburgh: Queen’s Hall, Ivlon 12 Jul. If the bass is the heartbeat of the band, Ray Brown is surely its master surgeon. The Pittsburgh-born maestro cut his teeth in the infancy of bebop with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and did more than anyone to establish the expanded role of the instrument in modern jazz, although he himself is quick to acknowledge his own influences.
‘The first breakthrough was Jimmy Blanton in Duke’s band in 1939. When Blanton would step out front and play a bass solo, people had never heard anything like it — they had never heard nobody play nothing but time before on the bass. It started with Blanton, then Oscar Pettiford, and it just took off from there.’
Brown was firmly in the forefront of that development. He played with Parker and anchored Gillespie’s big band in the late 405. The rhythm section of that band formed what became the original version of the Modern Jazz Quartet; but Brown opted out because he had married Ella Fitzgerald, and was the pivotal figure in her trio until their separation in 1951.
Since then, he has not only been first-call bassist for a Who’s Who of great jazz names, including a long association with Oscar Peterson, but a successful bandleader in his own
right. His gorgeous sound, lyrical soloing and harmonic judgement are all grounded in an infallible rhythmic sense - he is a great solo virtuoso on the instrument, but that rhythmic foundation remains the bedrock of
’That’s never going to change — hearing somebody laying down some good time with a good sound is sometimes better than a solo. Bass is a whole different thing now, though, and bass players can do whatever they want if they have command of their instrument.’
Brown is now in his 705, but is showing no signs of diminishing powers. His recent sequence of recordings
Ella's fella: Ray Brown
for Telarc with a plethora of guests will bear that out; but there is no better way to hear him than in the kind of energised trio setting which will feature at the Queen’s Hall. His collaborators, pianist Geoff Keezer and
drummer Kariem Riggins, continue his policy of
Every fortnight we bring you a new musical reason for living, and this time, it’s Kirby.
Who? A youthful six-piece girl group from Glasgow, as yet unsigned but bursting With potential
Be more specific They have many strings to their collective bow, being multi-instiumentalists, killer tunesmiths, rollicking onstage entertainers in the Kenickie mould and - not that one should prioritise this kind of thing — foxy to boot.
Getting a grip: Kirby What's their music like? Sax anrl Violin add substance to gorgeous imp iiielotlies and frilly liaiiiioiiies, Ii'iagine ihrowrng Muses doing .sunhathiiig With Natalie linhrualia and Suzanne Vega. And just to (Ensure all bases are covered, a remix by Jengahead Martyn Henderson is iiiiriiinent. 'Oui influences are baSicaIIy poi), folk, rock; but It's very diverse,' says Michelle (Sloan, gunar/voc‘alsi 'Three of us Sing, and we all have very different vorces Suited to different songs. And Ha'riet [Glover, violin, keyboard and saxophone] is classically trained; she’s at the RSAMD ’
choosing from the cream of young players on the
'Yeah, young musicians are more advanced now than we were at their age. And they don’t get tired — if I had a band of guys all my age, who knows what would happen when we got to the second set!’ (Kenny
A class act then? Astonishingly so, considering they only finalised their lineup and played their first gigs earlier this year. 'It started with me and Lizzie [D<)oiian, bass]; we were doing some drama together and we used to talk about forming a band.’ Other members joined gradually; the gender specific lineup was happenstance rather than policy. 'None of us really set out to be in a band at all, so it ' wasn't deliberate, You are aware of it making a difference. In all the time we've been playing, we haven't met another all-girl band — and peOple really watch when it's all females onstage!’
No doubt record company execs will be particularly attentive 'We're not in a big hurry to get Signed; it's still really early on for us, and we're just trying to get a really good demo together and play a lot more gigs.’
Very wise. And then? ‘Commercial success! We want everything. We want to be huge.’ Seems reasonable. Catch these rising stars now, before they're swathed in furs and surrounded by bodyguards. (Hannah McGiIl)
53.3 Kirby play Nice ’n’ Sleazy, Glasgow, Sun 18 Jul.
preview MUSIC Personal Stereo
This issue: err-Fairground Attraction star turned solo artist Mark Nevin. What was the last record you listened to?
Rufus Wainwright’s album.
What was the last single you bought? I can't remember.
What was the last album you bought?
Lauryn Hill's solo album.
Name a new band you'd trust with the future of music?
Name an album that’s an unrecognized classic?
Party Down by Little Beaver.
Which artist or record first made you want to make music?
Name a song you wish you’d written? 'Waterloo Sunset', among hundreds. Who was the first pop star you had a crush on?
Marie Osmond (this has remained a secret until now).
What song makes you cry?
Which of your own songs is your favourite?
'Have A Go Hero’ from my new album. Name a band or artist who has influenced you that people might be surprised by?
I love Kate and Anna McGarrigle, I don't know if people would think that was surprising.
Name a non-musical influence on your music?
Carl Gustav Jung.
Who would be on your dream Top Of The Pops?
The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Simon and Garfunkel, Bowie (with Mick Ronson), Roberta Flack, The Kinks, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Marie Osmond.
What do you play when you're getting ready to go out?
Depends where I’m going but usually 'I Am A Cider Drinker’ by The Wurzels. What would you play as an aid to seduction?
An upside down left-handed Fender Strat through a wah wah and fuzzbox. Never fails.
What do you sing in the shower?
I don't have showers. I have a cold bath every day, but I don’t do much singingin there, especially in the winter, unless howling counts.
m Mark Nevin ’5 solo album, Insensitive Songwriter, is out now on Raresong Recordings. He will be supporting Ron Sexsmith at Glasgow Cottier Theatre on Mon 27 Jul.
8-22 Jul 1999 THE U81“