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Alan Skidmore and Amampondo

The Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow, Tue 24 Oct.

Big Big World plays host to the first Scottish appearance by saxophonist Alan Skidmore in tandem with the South African vocal, percussion and dance group Amampondo, although both are familiar enough in these parts. Skid and the Africans teamed up in Cape Town last year to make an album for Colin Towns’s Provocateur label.

The Call was a welcome addition to Skidmore's surprisingly sparse discography as a leader, which amounts to only about half-a-dozen records over the years. He is a self-confessed and entirely unashamed acolyte of John Coltrane, and his Trane-inspired soloing dovetails beautifully with Amampondo's simultaneously elemental but sophisticated singing, vocal chants and surging percussion.

‘l was hooked on Coltrane from the first time I heard Giant Steps and I have been ever since,’ says Skidmore. ’What drew me to Amampondo, though, was the


The pluckin’ marvello

into jazz. Through the 80s l only played

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Alan Skidmore has an infatuation with collaboration

drums, which are a passion with me. I was aware from a very young age of the contribution of the black man to jazz music, and I guess that was the start of my love for African roots, because that was where it all started a long time ago, especially if you're talking about drums and rhythm.’

That early awareness of jazz was a result of growing up in a house where the music was ever-present. His late father, Jimmy Skidmore, was also a saxophonist, and Alan made his start in jazz in his dad’s band, then went on to establish himself as an important figure on the UK jazz scene from the late 605. The collaboration with Amampondo worked like a dream musically, and although it looked like a new departure, it was really more of a rematch.

'I met Amampondo when l was over in South Africa in 1994, and we did a kind of spontaneous television appearance together. The idea of working with them hung around in my mind, and when Colin gave me the chance to go back there and do the album with them, I was delighted to grab it.’ (Kenny Mathieson)

thOugh he says there was an economic considerations. ’There were more gigs for a bass player!’ he delclares.

Later, after hearing performers like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Phelps had a road-to-DamasCUs change from, at the time, post-bop free Jazz into the relative simpliCity of c0untry blues a change Which he feels was a natural evolution. ’In a way Ornette Coleman was Just dOing very odd country music. The way he handles melody and stuff isn’t that be-boppy, doo-dah stuff. The purity of his melody choices, no matter in what direction he goes, were so unusual,’

To see Phelps’ relaxed vocal delivery nowadays is also to see the fruits of years of introspection and

us Kelly Joe Phelps

Kelly Joe Phelps

Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow, Wed 25 Oct. The fingerpicked and lap-style acoustic guitar has a new international hero in Washington State’s Kelly Joe Phelps an urbane, intelligent, unique musiCian who has emerged through an unusually eclectic musical apprenticeship. ’I'd played drums, and a bit of piano, but my dad played a rudimentary sWing/country style gunar and he eventually showed me the basics, and l was hooked. Then I got

46 THE “ST 19 Oct—2 Nov 2000

Jazz. I pounded thrOugh Joe Pass records, note for note.’

He admits to still being able to sit in a bebop session, and fly thrOugh, say, Parker’s Ornithology if forced but feels that his Jazz background, ’the rhythmic motion, the chord substitutions, the way y0u play against the changes, and the understanding of tension and resolution -- comes out in everything I play. It’s a great base to play from.’ And play bass, in a modern Jazz band, was what he did for years

determination ’I don’t know why! wanted to go solo. Singing didn't feel eaSy, In fact it was frightening At first I was playing five, six, seven times a week around Oregon I’d take anything I COUld Just tO Sing so that now I'm finding how to bring out my own v0ice.' And With the v0ic.e came the songwriting 'Now I don't do any instrumentals. lust songs- - they're abOut 70% my own nowadays but they’re full of guitar’

(Norman Chalmers)


The Herald Shostakovich Series Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sat 28 Oct.

Concert seasons in Scotland in recent years have included complete cycles of symphonies by, for example, Beethoven and Sibelius, but, perhaps surprismgly, the RSNO's forthcoming programming of the complete symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovrch Will be the first to be heard since his death 25 years ago. However, given that there are fifteen of them in total, spanning a huge variety of musical language, there is no underestimating the mammoth challenge that the RSNO has taken on.

One of the 20th century’s most brilliant and extraordinary composers, Shostakowch was the great hope of the Russian Revolution. His fifteen symphonies were all expected by Stalin to show the public the greatness of a Sowet artist in a Sowet state, provrded, naturally, that their message was the one that Stalin wanted to hear told. Given that the symphonies mirror Shostakowch’s life, the orchestra Will perform them in chronological order, numbers one to nine being heard this season, With the remainder falling into 2001/2002.

Symphony, No. 7 is the work of a precomous teenager With a free spirit, While No. 2 and 3 can be seen to be rooted in sOCialism, as if he had a genurne commitment tO communism and What it offered his country. But Stalin couldn’t cope at all With No. 4, a work clearly full of anger, bitterness and resentment at What was gOing on, and Shostakowch had to Withdraw it from performance. In No. 5, Stalin has What he thinks he wants to hear his state composer produce, but hidden in it is Shostakowch's despair

and critiCism of the communist

regime. The opening concert gives a world first, as the first three symphonies Will be performed alongside each other. Conducted by the RSNO’s phenomenal PrinCipal Conductor, Alexander Lazarev, the ShostakOVich season Will be one of the most memorable musical events of the decade. The music is tragic and Visionary, gripping and uplifting and the RSNO Will give its composer a more than fitting tribute. (Carol Main) 9-: RSNO, Glasgow Royal Concert Ha//, Saturday 28 Oct. Free coach available from Edinburgh, phone 0747 225 3556 for further


Shostakovich will provide one of the musical highlights of the decade