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ASH Barrowland, Glasgow. Sat 5 May.

The new pioneers of barbershop ragga

Everyone knows what rock stars are like - wild, sneering idiot savants with fried internal organs and an icy gaze. Sadly, Ash frontman Tim Wheeler turns out to be an affable man who’s happier talking about Joe Strummer (‘he wanted my autograph for his daughter, which was weird’), Star Wars (‘we’d be Boba Fett’) and Scotland (‘extended licensing hours are great’) than how his band are slaves to the

pernicious music industry.

In their early days, Ash elevated precociousness to an art from, albeit a very noisy one that never lasted more than two minutes thirty. Wheeler formed Ash with bassist Mark Hamilton in 1989 at the grand old age of twelve. Five years later, with drummer Rick McMurray on board, the band cut the mini-album Trailer, before the likes of ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘Girl From Mars’ elevated them to the front covers of both Kerrang! and Smash Hits.

1997’s Nu—Clear Sounds saw the arrival of guitarist Charlotte Hatherly. You might have expected the arrival of a girl in the ranks to have deflected Ash from their legendary drunken antics, but if Wheeler is to be believed, the reverse was the case. ‘She’s a lot worse than us,’ he says. ‘She joined the band and saw it as a gauntlet that had been thrown down. All of a sudden there she was crawling down the

tour bus in search of more vodka.’

The band’s last tour saw a few surprising venues for such goings-on. Their official website allowed fans to vote on where they played. ‘We were practically playing in someone’s living room in Weymouth,’ says Wheeler, ‘and we were a bit suspicious when we got loads of hits asking us to play Ullapool ‘cause there were only about 50 people at the gig. Beautiful place, though.’

The new album, Free All Angels, has a few tranquil moments. It also, purists will be relieved to hear, gleefully ticks the boxes marked pop-punk anthem (‘Walking Barefoot’), S&M inspired mayhem (‘Submission‘) and soaring rock (‘Sometimes’). If the success of single ‘Shining Light’ is anything to go by, Ash could be heading back to those front covers some time soon. And Wheeler is aware they’ll need a headline. ‘We were grouped in with, whatever it was, the New Wave of New Wave,’ he says with surprising good grace, ‘then with all the punk stuff like Green Day, then with Britpop. God, I’m sure they’ll find something new to box us into this time, barbershop ragga or something.’ Stranger things have happened . . . (James Smart)


Henry‘s Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh, Tue 1 May.

lJnl ms nwtl happened to be in Sweden. '.':here the band are lot‘al stars. and often eclipse

inator pop and rock acts in the

Charting the progress of jazz

Swedish charts. chances are that rf you had asked the average Jazz fan a year ago what they thought of the Etsbrorn Svensson Trio. you would have met wrth a blank response. That has all changed now. A highly successful London debut last summer was followed by their sixth album. Good Moth/rig. Su/re Soho lACT Records). being named album of the year in the biggest selling UK Jaxx magazine. Jr'r/z'wrse.

lt sparked a somewhat belated breakthrough for the band. who had already put in s ayen years of steady progress. Pianist Esbjorn Svensson. bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Ostrom came together rn 1093. and built a big following with their rndryrt‘lual take on contemporary Jazz. Syensson and Ostrom were childhood friends. and would )8th enthusrastrcally at the pianist's house. en en though ‘we didn't really know what we were derng' at that point. Svensson fancred drums himself. but took up piano because rt was the only instrument in the house. His

conversion to Jazz was also domestic in origin.

'l was aware of jazz from a very early age. because of my father. He didn’t play an instrument. but he had a lot of records. and he used to play them fer me. Naturally, I didn't lrke them then. I wanted to find my own music. but when I was around fourteen or so. I heard Errol Garner play The Beatles tune ‘Yesterday'. and I was really captured by the rhythm for the first time. Something happened then. and I started gorng through my father's records listening to all kinds of thrngs.‘

EST's rnusrc reflects much of that listening, from COrea. Jarrett and Monk through to Stravrnsky and Bartok. and also incorporates a less readin definable influence from Swedish folk muSic. which rs even more obvr0us in Svensson's two collaborations wrth trornbonrst Nils Landgren. also on the ACT label. Their mUSlC. though, IS very definitely undiluted jazz. and they have won their way rnto the Swedish pop charts on quality alone. (Kenny Mathreson)



Royal Concert Hall. Glasgow, Wed 2 May.

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For sure. as smge" O'r‘ara Portaondv told me recently rn lla.ar‘.r, producer and record bass New Cell has the ‘nose' for what songs to 'r}’.‘,t>.'rl and how to retiord them, an u'lrlenratw rnstrnrtt for what audrenrw; mutant; Cuba wzli allove: a mix of 5;ir‘».'. l)l(3£tll‘lfi(}*()£t'.:(‘(l 'ernantt‘ c‘assrw. that de—stress you the llll'ltlif? you start to listen. juxtaposed with a lot of .en. sexy upbeat numbers where the i‘,.'i(‘,i; have the most licentrous of oou'tlr; rneanrngs (such as 'Who can put out Tula's fire? There's been a whole lr ll 1)? men in her bedroom already and the flame rs still burnrng'r.

Something of a phenomenon

American iconoclastic guitarrst Ry Cooder has had an enorrrrous effect as a bridge to the alternative rock and pop world certainly. as has Wrrn Wenders' misleading but endearing Oscar nominated fictional documentany about the band. Cooder got a Grammy for the original WOO disc and also a 825,000 fine from the US government under the latest aggressive legislation that governs the 40 year trade embargo between the US and Cuba. Only the rntenxentron of Bill Clinton in his final days in office got Cooder legally to Cuba this Fel’Jruary. when he was in the Egrem studios again wrth the extraordinary 19603; do-wop electric gurtarrst Manuel Calbart rnakrng. from what I heard. what will be the most Surprising al‘ourrr to date. full of rdrOSyncratrc pieces.

Certainly Gold's latest produced album. bass player Orlando Cacharto Lopez' debut release lat 68 ne's one of the yowtgestl wrtn DJ remixes by Dee Nasty shows that they are rnowng from classic ’as rt rs live in the studio to the experimental wrth the Surest of IOUChBS. You only have to experience a few rnrnutes of these people to know they deserve to be the world phenomenon they are. (Jan Fairleyr

2f} Ape lfl Ma, W/Jl THE LIST 49