SOUNDS OF SWEDEN
Various venues, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Sat 20- Sat 27 Oct.
After Volvos and Saabs, they were their country’s third biggest export earner in the late 705, but there is so much more to Swedish music than ABBA. A country steeped in the folk music of traditional songs and dances, Sweden is about to let Scotland experience the wider musical landscape that is an integral part of its cultural life. Composers, conductors, orchestras, soloists and jazz musicians come together for a new country- wide festival aptly entitled Sounds Of Sweden. Orchestral concerts and broadcasts, recitals and masterclasses take place over the course of one week, mainly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but also in Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness.
The idea came about through the Swedish Concert Institute, whose previous director, Martin Martinsson started planning performances of Swedish music by Scottish musicians just over two years ago. Links with the Stephanie Williams Artists agency in the UK resulted in a partnership between the two organisations and the dual directorship of Martinsson’s successor and Jayne Rollason of the agency. ‘We were very keen to have the Festival in Scotland’ says Rollason, ‘partly because the geographical nature of the countries is quite similar, but, more importantly, because there are some very, very good performers and arenas. It’s been vital to us to have real collaboration between the main orchestras and ourselves.’ The three national orchestras - RSNO, SCO and BBC SSO - are all taking part in the festival, combining their own forces with
Benny Andersson proves there’s more to Sweden than ABBA
Swedish artists in repertoire. ‘What we didn’t want to do was to have a whole load of Swedes descending on Scotland, but to have a festival where links are created and partnerships forged for the future.’
The SCO has already been working with Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist over the past three years. Her Arktis Arktis!, a four-movement work, receives its UK premiere in the complete version of its vivid portrayal of the Arctic. Other new Swedish music includes a trumpet concerto by Rolf Martinsson, specially written for its soloist, Hakan Hardenberger, who appears with the vibrant Malmo Symphony Orchestra on their first visit to the UK. ‘He is the obvious big name of the
festival’ says Rollason, ‘and is just a complete superstar. He is totally amazing and we are so lucky that he is giving both a recital and a concerto performance.’ The Yggdrasil Quartet are welcome return visitors to Scotland, appearing with another brilliant trumpeter, Scotland’s own John Wallace.
But Sounds Of Sweden couldn’t possibly exist without at least one ABBA link. For one night only, ex-ABBA star, Benny Andersson, appears at Glasgow’s Fruitmarket with his new fifteen-piece band. ‘lt’s folk and jazz influenced and completely different from ABBA,’ says Rollason. ‘The CD went straight to number one in the Swedish charts.’ (Carol Main)
JAZZELECTRONICA SOLARIS Arches, Glasgow, Mon 22 Oct.
Wobble’s personality crisis
It is one of life's intractable debates. It's up there with, is the pint half full or half empty? It's this: Is Jah Wobble a punk or a hippy? The case runs like this. When Wobble joined John Lydon's post-Pistols venture Public Image Limited. he had only taken up the bass a few months previously having been lent it by Sid Vicious. It's from this period that he gets the name Jah Wobble. the product of a drunken Sid ViCious' slurring of his real name John Wardle. After playing on the adventurous Sprawl of Metal Box, he took a sabbatical from the music industry following a tempestuous struggle with “the old drink and drugs'. Years later he is back in the industry. running his own indepedent label. 30 Hertz. An open and shut case of punk. surely? Ah, but wait.
“That period I spent out of the industry in the early 80s was very good for me spiritually. It gave me time to think about what I wanted to do next. I was listening
80 THE LIST 18 001-1 Nov 2001
to music all the time and thinking, 'I COuld do better than this' and there were three musiCians that I listened to that inspired me to return to music. Anita Baker. Fela Kuti and Bryan Ferry.‘ Good for me spiritually? Fela Kuti? And these were supposed to be the punkiest of Wobble's days. Still. no punk would ever have gone on to work With Brian Eno and Ginger Baker. No punk would ever have harnessed world mUSlC for a major label as successfully as Wobble did With Invaders of the Heart. He has made ambient albums With Eno. He must be a now
Or is he Simply. like his hero William Blake whose poetry he read on his last album. one of life's eloquent outsiders? 'l have found where I want to be now. collaborating with whichever artists I want to on my own label. As soon as I started working on Radioax/om (the excellent album recorded with jazzer Bill Laswell. Can's Jaki Leibezeit. Harold Budd and Graham Haynes under the moniker Solaris). I remembered exactly why I got out of Island Records. These companies are full of PR people who are just really, really creepy. They're like those zombies in that film Omega Man.‘ he says before the thought takes him elsewhere. ‘He's a great actor though Charlton Heston isn't he? If you don’t think too hard about his politics.‘
80 less of this interminable arguing. Jah Wobble is just . . . a bit different. (Tim Abrahams)
J KEN VANDERMARK FIVE
Henry’s Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh, Fri 19 Oct.
Assembly Direct's programming at Henry's Jazz Cellar grows increasingly adventurous with each new batch of gigs. Top of that list this time round is a Scottish debut for the hottest property on the American free jazz; improvised music scene. Chicago-based sax0phonist Ken Vandermark.
Vandermark became the yOungest recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation award in 1999. The so-called 'genius' award is given to exceptional individuals in a variety of fields. and it placed his name firmly on the map. but he had already established a Substantial reputation and a growing followmg for his fiery. passionate improvising style. Much of his audience has not come from the traditional improv ranks. but from the alternative rock community.
'There has been a major shift in recent years. and wherever we play. most of Our audience is now between 20 and 35. and comes out of an alternative background. Maybe the bOundaries have been blurred. or maybe the majority of mainstream music now is so terrible that people interested in music are just
gravitating toward improvisers.
‘They may not really know who Ornette Coleman or Cecil Taylor or Anthony Braxton are. but they can tell that we are playing this music because we love it. and they listen and respond to the excitement that they hear. It's more fun to play for an audience like that than for people who have 3000 records. and don't bother to listen.‘
Vandermark has played with many of the major forces in improvised music. including the likes of Peter Brotzmann and Misha Mengelberg from the European scene. His commitment to free improvisation is both deep and sincere.
‘lt frustrates me when people think that we don‘t consider the ramifications of what we do. As if we just play off the cuff. like we don't take it seriously, don't examine it, don‘t practice or don't study. That's so insulting. It's not to say other people can't have different opinions about it. but I take it really seriously. and the musicians I play with take it seriously.“ (Kenny Mathieson)