YEAH YEAH YEAHS
Barrowland, Glasgow, Sun 11 Apr
‘We’ve always imagined this project would have a pretty short shelf-Iife,’ says Nick Zinner, bequiffed guitar god of ever-invigorating New York power- trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs. ‘I personally can’t see it going past two or three records’. That’s his response to the question of whether he thinks they’ll burn up, Sex Pistols-style, after just one album, or instead whip the comeback trail like a Blondie for the new millennium.
In that case, the YYYs’ story isn’t even half done - and that’s a great thing for those who loved the diverse, wasted textures of Fever to Tell, their only full-length album to date. From the pleading, heart-swelling ‘Maps’ to ‘Date With the Night’s Iascivious throb, it’s a great record - and while it may not have brought them to the attention of the public at large, the threesome are now firmly ensconced in the heart of the art rock faithful.
So what, then, would they ﬁll the time with in their post-Yeahs life? ‘Well, I’m into filmmaking,’ explains warm and talkative frontwoman Karen 0. ‘Although, to be honest, we’ve all got plenty of other interests, but I feel we’ll always make music in one form or another.’
Nick chips in, saying: ‘I do a lot with photography, as well as ﬁlmmaking and production. And our drummer Brian (Chase) is already in, like, three other bands.’
Enough dwelling on their obituaries, though. The YYYs sprang from a New York scene that was stagnating - Karen describes it as ‘really local, much less exciting than it became’. Ever contrary, in fact, she and Nick initially embarked on the confessional songwriting route as a two-fingers to all the sludgy rock cloggers polluting the city.
A musical two fingers up at all the sludgy rock cloggers
‘It was a shocking meeting of minds, as far as that goes where we thought we could write really slow personal songs and destroy rock music together,’ she laughs.
Of course, now that they’re defining rather than destroying, do the band feel the pressure that fame entails? ‘Yeah, of course, because now that we’re getting a bit of attention, there’s a lot of
artificial pressure there,’ says Karen. ‘But we don’t really give a shit, because as long as we still feel comfortable writing songs, the real integrity’s in that and not who comes to our shows.’ Or, as Nick puts it: ‘This whole Iifestyle’s about doing what you do, because it’s what you do . . . regardless of what else you should be doing.’ (David Pollock)
Henry’s Jazz Cellar, Edinburgh, Fri 2-Sat 3 Apr; Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 4 Apr
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A late bloomer comes good
Jesse Davis made a big impression in Scotland last summer, and the New York- based alto saxophonist is back for more. He took up music in his native New Orleans after a broken collarbone ended his youthful aspiration to be an (American-style) footballer. His formal indoctrination into the music that would shape his life came at the hands of the patriarch of contemporary jazz's most famous family. ‘When I was 17, I heard about a programme headed up by Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts. I auditioned and got in,
and that was my real introduction to jazz. Ellis was a major influence on me. with and without the instrument. My mother passed on when I was eight years old. and I was still dealing with the loss as a teenager. Ellis not only understood what I needed musically, he also taught me a lot about life.‘
He made the move to New York and established himself there. His hard-hitting style is rooted in the mainline of post- war jazz. and he checks the giants on the instrument as his major influences. with the proviso that he tries to find his own voice from what he heard in their music.
'I almost hate saying it. because when you give critics some kind of justification for slapping a label on you. they take it to the max. but the big three for me are Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Stilt. For me. Charlie Parker was like Louis Armstrong — he was one of those very. very rare musicians that touched everything. and put everything into perspective. You can‘t exaggerate how incredible his music actually was. It's space music! You have to wonder how he even heard that stuff. far less played it. and I believe we're still trying to come to terms with that.‘
CLASSICAL EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL HARP FESTIVAL Various venues, Edinburgh, Fri 2—Wed 7 Apr
The mighty organ may be known as the king of instruments. but the little Scottish clarsach is proving that it can more than hold its own as its partner. After working together in recital a year and a half ago. Simon Nieminski. assistant organist at Edinburgh‘s St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral. and Catriona McKay. well known harpist on the traditional music circuit, will give the premiere of a new piece specially written for them by Eddie McGuire for the opening concert of this year's Edinburgh International Harp Festival. Entitled ‘Parallel Dimensions. it's probably the first piece ever to have been commissioned for this unlikely combination.
Far from the organ in any way overpowering the gentle sounds of the small harp, organist Nieminski says: ‘lt's surprising how the pinginess of the clarsach cuts through the texture. It can really be quite strident and very atmospheric.‘ McGuire. who is also the harp festival's first composer in residence. has written the piece in what McKay feels is very much his own, recognisable style. ‘He exploits different textures very well, with equal status given to the two instruments.‘ says Nieminski. ‘There's one very lilting Scottish melody in the middle. with what I think are hints of minimalism, and overall the piece is quite sparse and economical with its material.‘
Apart from the pairing of instruments being unuSual. it is also new departure for the harp festival to move away from its Merchiston base to city centre St Mary's. a move necessitated. of COurse. by the fixed location of the organ. Nieminski. who gives recitals internationally and whose latest recording in the states. Organ/c Shakespeare. is about to receive its UK release. says: 'You really have to hear it to get the full impression.’
I The Edd/e McGuire commission for organ and harp will be performed at St Mary '3 Cathedral, Edinburgh, Fri 3 Apr.
Simon Nieminski and Catriona McKay
1—15 Apr 2004 THE LIST 43