JAZZ PREVIEW Niels-Hennin Orsted Pedersen an Mulgrew
Miller Edinburgh: Queen’s Hall, Wed 27 Oct.
With all Duke respect: Mulgrew Miller
The Ellington centenary has thrown up any number of intriguing tributes to his big band music, but this collaboration will focus on the opposite extreme of Duke's spectrum. It is inspired by a series of duet recordings made by Ellington and bassist Jimmy Blanton, a player who revolutionised the role of the bass in jazz before dying of
tuberculosis in 1942 at the tragically early age of 23.
The best known manifestation of Blanton's talents lies in the big band recordings made by the 1939—41 edition of Duke's band, which came to be known as the Blanton-Webster band in acknowledgement of the crucial contributions made by the bassist and saxophonist Ben Webster. Ellington described their first encounter with the bassist at an afterohours joint in in St Louis in 1939 in his autobiography, Music Is My Mistress:
’Billy Strayhorn and Ben Webster dashed over to my hotel and came into my room raving about him. I had to get up and go with them to hear him, and I flipped like everybody else. It seemed that Jimmy had done most of his playing with his mother, a pianist, and his big band experience was limited. But we didn’t care about his experience. All we wanted was that sound, that beat, and those precision notes in the right places, so that we could float out on the great and adventurous sea of expectancy with his pulse and foundation behind us.’
Ellington featured Blanton more prominently than any bassist had ever been featured, both as a soloist and within the ensemble texture, but especially in the duets. In recreating the magic of that collaboration, Danish bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson and American pianist Mulgrew Miller will bring their own distinctive contributions to the music, with the originals as ever-present guiding spirits. (Kenny Mathieson)
CLASSICAL PREVIEW Paragon Premieres
Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Mon 1 Nov; Edinburgh: Queen's Hall, Tue 2 Nov.
Ready Steady Cook! is a tried and tested recipe for TV entertainment, but Ready Steady ’Compose’! is a new concept in live concert-giving. Led by composers John Lunn and Alasdair Nicolson, the idea comes from Paragon Ensemble, who are presenting Ready Steady ’Compose’! as part of a new music series entitled Paragon Premieres. Just one component in a three part flexible evening, which also includes first performances and composer profiles, Ready Steady ’Compose’! will involve members of the ensemble in writing music themselves, rather than exclusively reading the notes penned by others. As Lunn, who has worked extensively in music education, explains, 'A lot of
Leading composer: John Lunn
what we are doing is demystifying what composing is about.’ Glasgow- born Lunn’s own experiences of pop and commercial music — he was a founder member of the group Man Jumping — as well as contemporary classical, make him an ideal choice for such barrier-breaking work.
One of the pieces programmed as part of Lunn’s composer profile is Strange Fruit, a string quartet based on the song of the same name made famous by Billie Holliday. ’lt's quite difficult,’ he says, ’in that it crosses the divides between classical and jazz.’ It will, he feels, be complementary to the composing strand of the evening. ’Part of the musicians being able to play is being able to write themselves, which leads to a better understanding. Musicians don’t get much of a chance to do this sort of thing. We're not exactly sure how it will come off!’ (Carol Main)
FOLK PREVIEW Mintit Glasgow: Toby's Bar, Strathclyde
University Jordanhill Campus, Thu 28 & Fri 29 Oct.
It’s what it’s called, and according to student organiser Andy Webster, it will be ’Mintit'. In other words, pure dead brilliant. Describing it as Jordanhill’s first ever celtic festival’, Webster feels the two-day music event is ’just what is needed to lift the place.’ The place being the former college of education, now the Jordanhill campus of Strathclyde University, where he's in the final year of the music course.
After rounding up some pals and sponsorship to keep ticket prices ridiculously low (concerts are £3—£2 if you’re a student - and the workshops by top-flight instrumentalists are free), Webster has assembled an ear-catching selection of bands. These are drawn mainly from the emerging new generation of Glasgow-based singers and instrumentalists, who, though widely different in approach, share a
46 THE LIST 21 Oct—4 Nov 1999
Scottish samba: Macumba
healthy disrespect for the folk police.
’Hamnavoe are finalists in this year’s Radio 2 Folk competition. I think someone thought that one of them looked like George MacKay Brown; that’s where the Hamnavoe came from, but they’re actually playing in quite a contemporary way, and it‘s nothing to do with Orkney. And Wee Toni’s Session have played for Prince Charles and Princess Anne at Holyrood. Toni’s a harp player and her band does an electric set, not just an acoustic one.’
Webster himself plays in the latter, and also handles bass in Rattler's Bite, winners of the Open Stage award at this year's Celtic Connections, and purveyors of ’alternative country crossed with something like the Barenaked Ladies.’ The full line-up is headlined by Macumba and their unique Scottish fusion of Highland pipes and samba drummers which has a remarkable following. Their new album Bruhuhaho has a hard act to follow; their first sold 1300 copies out of one single record shop in Austin, Texas. (Norman Chalmers)
ROCK PREVIEW Shack Glasgow: SECC, Fri 29 Oct.
Michael Head is the nearly man of pop. 'lt’s quite a sentence, innit?’ states the Shack leader of the tag attached to him by more than one media organ. "'Nearly. Man. Pop". For my own peace of mind, it’s all about what’s exciting me for the next project. We never really been a person who’s tried to be Mr Pop.’
While he may not have wished to be a pop legend, his bubble has threatened to burst on more than one occasion. During a career which started off on the late 70s post-punk Liverpool scene with The Pale Fountains, Head has been involved, one way or another, in brain tumour death, serious drug problems and master tapes being either burnt to a creative crisp or lost in America. 'If you sat down and got totally concerned about it, you probably would actually do your own head in,’ he insists.
Finding a name for his band in the first place also proved somewhat of a mindboggler. ’When we were in The
r“! Head and soldiers: Shack
Pale Fountains, the question of the month was always "what does the name mean?" We had originally been the Love Fountains because we were into Love but we realised that we were starting to sound too much like them, and l was blacking up and wearing an Afro. So we had to change the first part of the name.’
And what of the new name? ’We had our first gig approaching and we still ‘needed a name for the band to put on the posters. We were coming up with the first thing that came to the top of the head - a piece of dust would fall behind us and someone would shout "dust" and no matter how good the name was there was always someone saying "nah" and then someone just said "Shack".’ All's well that ends . . ’The thing was they got the name wrong and it said Snack on the poster. We soldiered on.’ Story of Michael Head's life. (Brian Donaldson)
I Shack support Ocean Colour Scene, Glasgow: SECC, Thu 29 Oct. The album HMS Fable is out now on London Records.