GLASGOW IMPROVISERS’ ORCHESTRA
CCA, Glasgow, Sat 13 Dec
Saxophonist Raymond MacDonald has become identified as the ‘leader’ of the Glasgow lmprovisers’ Orchestra, but he is quick to point out that leadership has to be a qualified notion when it comes to this ambitious large ensemble.
‘I am sort of the leader, I suppose, but the success of what we do depends upon the artistic vision and musical contributions of every member of the group. Everybody involved is an established musician in their own field, and in the nature of the music we play, each member has to take responsibility for their own creative contribution.’
Free improvisation seems more readily adaptable to a solo or small group context, but the lure of extending the methods and philosophy of free music to big groups has proved irresistible over the decades since it emerged as a discernible genre in the 605.
The GIO made their debut in a workshop and performance project at the CCA’s Free Radicals event with the great Evan Parker in 2002,
FOLK FLOOK! Edinburgh’s Queen's Hall, Fri 12 Dec
Have you heard the bodhran jokes? There are hundreds — even websites devoted to them. ‘What's the difference between a bodhran and a good pair of brogues? A good pair of brogues bucks up the feet!‘
Some peOple even deny that the Irish frame drum is a musical instrument. Well. let them listen to Jon Jo Kelly. Flook's bodhran maestro unleashes as much propulsive energy as a shuttle launch. and synchronises to the nanosecond with his three fellow musical high-flyers — Ed Beyd on acoustic guitar. Sarah Allen on alto flute and accordion. and Brian Finnegan on various bamboo. metal and wooden flutes and whistles. Finnegan is the only Irishman in the band. which uses lrish tradition as the launch pad for an intense. joyful and astonishingly varied instrumental interplay. No songs. but there is something magic ab0ut the fusion. as Finnegan readily acknowledges.
‘When we first started playing together we were learning tunes. It dllel matter where they came from. What matters is what we do with them.‘
Flook! have been a sort of cult band within the larger folk scene for some years now. but the release of their latest album RUDE“. and a licensing deal in the States. has seen them propelled to a gruelling international t0uring schedule. ‘We're dOing about 200 gigs a year now' says Finnegan, "All over. The last gig we played. at Milwaukee Irish Festival. we had an amazing response. We seemed to strike a chord with the yOunger people. We were groovier than they expected. I think. But he admits: “We are all getting a bit tired. Now that we've got a bit of name we'll have to learn how to say no to gigs.“ (Norman Chalmers)
A band managing to not live up to their name
and have been involved in subsequent collaborations at that venue. One such brought an invitation to perform in Munich this summer, where they linked up with
‘We had been working on our own ideas and music, and I wanted Evan to see that. The Munich experience worked out really well - taking a group this size abroad is quite an
undertaking, but we had support from the Scottish Arts Council. We had a fantastic time, and it was very well received.’
As this is also something of a landmark — their first outing as an autonomous entity - recordings are planned from both here and Munich.
‘Because we play improvised music, no piece is ever quite the same twice.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Cresswell emerges from the shadows
SCOTTISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA RSAMD, Glasgow, Fri 12 Dec; Queen‘s Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 13 Dec
It's Just coincidence that Lyell Cresswell's newest and boldest work is happening at Christmas. But at a time of when the \rvhole issue of eXile has extra pOignancy. it is a good time for Shadows Without Sun to be heard. Weaving together strong strands of mus‘ic. narrative. song. even dance. as Cresswell says. 'it is about the (BXDGl’lQllCG of eXile. and even the sound of exile'.
There are three main strands to the piece. Firstly. there are the letters of Highland minister Norman McLeod. who fled his homeland during the Clearances. initially to Canada and then to New Zealand. Cresswell's own original home. “He was a charismatic preacher and some of the letters we hear were written for the flock he had left behind in Scotland and others were to the people he left in Canada.‘ says Cresswell. While McLeod is one sort of exile. someone who was not physically forced to go. but felt that he had to go. the second strand deals with a totally different type of eXile — Cassandra. daughter of Priam, King of Troy. 'She was taken away at the end of the Trojan wars but she's also a kind of mental exHe.‘ says Cresswell. 'She had the gift of prophecy. but she was never to he believed'
The third aspect of the piece is a series of recorded interViews with people liying in contemporary Scotland. ‘There is a complete range.‘ says Cresswell. ‘From someone who is here because he is married to a Scot. to a Nigerian family who sing some songs.‘ lCarol Main)
They have no idea what’s going to happen next . . .
KINGS OF LEON
1 They’re a close knit community You want redneck cliches? The Tennessee four-piece consist of three brothers — Caleb (vocals. rhythm guitar). Nathan (drums). and Jared (bass) Followill. Matthew Followill (lead guitar) is their first cousin. They‘re nothing to do with Lyon. a pleasant French city near the Alps. Kings of Leon are about as French as ketchup. The name comes from the brothers' father and grandfather. who — to keep things nice and simple — are both called Leon.
2 Family life wasn’t all sweetness and light ‘We got family members who are preachers and we‘ve got family members who are crackheads.‘ says Caleb. Leon Followhill (that's dad. not granddad) was a United Pentecostal evangelist. which meant the boys had a largely nomdadic childhood. forbidden from rock radio stations and MTV. He now paints houses in Oklahoma.
3 They still dig the Pentecostal church scene ‘We didn't give up that music up for rock and roll,’ explains Nathan. ‘We had the music in us all along. Understand: Aretha Franklin. she was a Pentecostal girl. Al Green. too. We don't want to come off as a church band. but we're not scared of the fact that a lot of our influences musically come from Our past.‘
4 Noel Gallagher likes them, exclaiming ‘the Kings of Leon are my new fucking favourite band’ earlier this year ‘We got to talk to him for about five minutes.‘ said Jared. 'We were preoccupied with Kate Moss and Stella McCartney.‘
5 They are mighty fine Debut album Youth and YOL/ng Manhood. released in July. sounds like a beefier. blueSier Strokes. full of tee- tapping melodies. snarling guitars and indecipherably slurred lyrics. It's exhilarating indeed: drag the, swamp thing out of the marshes. dry him out in the desert sun. pump him full of Chuck Berry. the White Sripes and cheap amphetamines and strap a guitar over his creaking shOuIders and yOu're coming close. (James Smart)
l Kings of Leon p/ay Car/mg Academy, Glasgow, Mon 22 Dec.
3033- (‘4, Jar: 203-1 THE LIST 57