ROCK/POP JIMMY WEBB
Grand Old Opry, Glasgow, Thu 20 Sep.
Stop Press: This Show has been cancelled due to continued problems with trans- atlantic air travel. Refunds are available from
point of purchase.
If you are talking about songwriters, then he wrote the book about it. Quite literally. For Jimmy Webb is not only the writer of the third most performed song written since 1945, ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’, as well as a string of other hits, but he is the author of a book, published three years ago detailing how exactly to go about writing one yourself. Tunesmith: Inside The Art Of Songwriting was not just another of Webb’s successful commercial exercises, however. The man who was a millionaire by the age of twenty one on the strength of his songwriting alone,
wrote this book as ‘a kind of survival book for my three boys; all of whom are involved in the music
industry in some way’. It’s clear though that whilst his two sons, Christiaan and Justin, began performing as the Webb Brothers around the time he wrote the book, Webb Senior has just emerged from a period of introspection of which
his book was merely a part.
There was his excellent 1997 album Ten Easy Pieces as well, in which Webb performed his most famous songs which date mainly from the early 605. ‘I went back to those songs because I wanted to see if there was any that I could reclaim. I had grown to dislike many of them. Which ones? Well, all of them in fact. I had to see if there was anything to rescue from them
Usher Hall, Edinburgh from Fri 28 Sep; Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow from Sat 29 Sep.
As summer gives way to autumn. it‘s that time of year when Scotland's musical establishments commence their main seasons. On the orchestral front. the Royal Scottish National Orchestra starts up this month where last season left off. Their ambitious presentation of all of Shostakovich's fifteen symphonies under the baton of Principal ConductOr Alexander Lazarev. which met with spectacular success last season. continues wrth performances of Symphonies 10 to 15. 'The Shostakovich cycle really has caught the public's imagination.‘ says RSNO Chief Executive Simon Crookali. ‘and audiences have grown steadily throughout the series. Numbers 10. it and 12 are such fantastic pieces. although it gets a bit gloomy after that. It's quite a journey for everyone to follow. and has been much more successful than even I had dared to hope.‘
AlthOugh the Shostakovich series takes up the main thrust of the season's first half, the orchestra won't rest on its Iaurels once it is complete. 'There are some super choral concerts. with great soloists such as Lisa Milne and Thomas Allen.' says Crookall, 'althOugh we can't, of course. do them in Edinburgh.‘ The much publicised debacle over the Usher Hall's organ being
Seasons to be cheerful
reinstated at the very times w'nen the RSNO has programmed Brahms's Requiem and Vaughan Williams's Sea Symphony means that the organ gallery seats are simply unavailable for the RSNO Chorus to sit on. ‘lt's very positive that a manager for the Usher Hall has now been appornted.' explains Crookall. ‘but until we've got through this idiotic thing with the choir stalls. we'll be running a free bus from Edinburgh to Glasgow so that people don't miss out.”
On the popular music front. there are evenings of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. the latter wrth Garry Walker who conducted this year's Edinburgh Festival Fireworks Concert. and another of French classics. For St Andrew's Night. accordionrst Phil Cunningham and fiddler Aly Barn join the orchestra. while the film composer Jerry Goldsmith returns to conduct a concert of his own music in May. Summing up, acc:ording to Crookall: ‘lt's a good season and selling well.‘ (Carol Main)
personally. A friend of mine took me to Toronto, found me somewhere with a fantastic grand piano in the basement and away I went.’
The album was something of a revelation. Not just to listeners who remembered the high sentiment and orchestral lusciousness of Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ or Richard Harris’s well.’ ‘Macarthur Park’ and heard instead a hungry, haunted voice coming from a man they had always thought of a great writer but never as a performer.
‘As a performing artist I’ve had a lot of fun,’ says Webb. ‘l’ve never sold many records myself. achieved his goal. And that’s something you can’t I was always pretty content to stay in the
The song remains the same
backroom. Yet the kind of system I grew up in kept music in certain compartments though. All the songwriters aspired to write for the big stars and a result the kind of songs they wrote became typecast. Then The Beatles came along and everyone expected the singer to write songs as
After a stunning early success in his career, Webb struggled throughout the 705 to become what he had never intended to be: a singer. It has taken him a long time to do it but if Ten Easy Pieces is anything to go by then he has at last
learn in any book. (Tim Abrahams)
JAZZ THEO TRAVIS QUARTET
Henry’s Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh, Thu 4 Oct; Arts Centre, Paisley, Sat 6 Oct.
Theo ’l‘ravrs has always been a notably open-minded musician with a diverse range of interests. stretching from straight—ahead ran to progresswe rock. The tenor saxophonist first made his mark in Scotland when his quartet was named best act in an audience vote at the Glasgow Ja// Festival in 1996. in the face of a roster of international names.
Travis wrll lead his quartet on four Scottish dates (taking in Montrose and Aberdeen as well as the central belt). a modest tally when set against the epic ground~l)r‘eaking thirteen~date tour of the Highlands and Islands he set up in 1998. The saxophonist is promoting his latest album. the excellent Heart Of The Sun, his fourth release on 33 Jazz. which features special guest Palle Mikkelborg on trumpet and flugelhorn. It has a different emphasis to his earlier discs. and marks a significant step forward in the sophistication of his writing.
‘The previous records with the quartet were very much about the band itself. and the way we played together. They were more about improvisation. and the trio with .John Marshall and Mark Wood was even more improvrsed. For this album. I wanted to take a much more compositional approach. and I've also used ambient loops in some of the tracks, which is something I work with in my other band, Ciplrer‘.'
In addition to his jaw quartet and the experimental ambient electronrca directions he explores in Cipher. l'r'avis has a number of musical hats he wears elsewhere. He is a regular member of Australian guitarist Daevrd Allen's legendary prog~rock outfit Gong: he works with singer» songwriter Ana Garbarek rdaughter of saxophonist .Jan Garbarek). and also co leads The Berlin Vibe with Vibraphone player Roger Beaujolais. His past credits include names like lvlick Karn and Bill Br'uford. but the saxophonist sees all of these diverse directions as a natural enough manifestation of his musical persona.
‘I started out playing rock. and I also studied classical llute before I got rnto ia//. so all these things are part of my music. I enjoy doing the different things. and when I do a lot of one. it really increases my appetite for the others, so they feed each other in that way' (Kenny lvlathieson)
A diverse attraction
L’llStt-ii -1()i:t I‘llt‘l THE LIST 43