FOLK ROCK JOHN MARTYN Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow Mon 10 May
From Debussy to Pharoah Saunders via Kilkenny
When John Martyn counts (shouts) in the first track of his new album, there’s no mistaking the Scots accent. But the subsequent bluesy grumble is archetypal Martyn, a unique sweet/sour mid-Atlantic drawl that’s an acquired taste to his many fans worldwide, if an apology for singing to his detractors. Yet the boy has been prolific, as from his 605 Glasgow folk roots he has gone on to create an astonishing variety of original songs in highly evolved musical settings that run from acoustic guitar simplicity to sophisticated rock to fractured jazz and beyond - all united by his great sense of a groove.
I ask him what he felt about his latest album, On the Cobbles. Talking from his Kilkenny home (he moved to Ireland five years ago), he reﬂects and says: ‘Well, it’s a very clean album. But it was recorded over the last two and a half years. I’m more interested in what I’m doing now, the music I’m making now. It’s important to stay in the moment. Stay creative. Like, I’d like to use a horn section. It would be expensive, but it’s one of my ambitions, and I will fulfil it.’ And he’ll write the parts himself. ‘I don’t write music,’ he admits. ‘But I can sing. I’ll sing them each their part and they can write it down.’
Martyn’s musical imagination is part of a wide taste for music beyond the mainstream. ‘l’m listening a lot now to Pharoah Saunders and Debussy,’ he says. ‘And hip hop. I’m seriously into hip hop. I was in Chicago in the early 80s. I loved that time. I have played on a few hip hop tracks, though I wouldn’t - couldn’t - think of doing rap myself.’ And of his long career in the music business, Martyn is surprising.
‘I never had any ambition to play music full time,’ he says. ‘It was only after my ﬁrst album, on Island, and Chris Blackwell’s wanting to take over my song publishing, that I realised there was money in it. I always wanted to be a doctor.’ And Martyn’s seen a lot of doctors this last year. On the Cobbles is dedicated to the staff of Orthopaedic Ward One in Waterford Hospital, Ireland, where the singer was nursed back to health and, literally, back onto his feet after electrocuting himself onstage. Complications meant the removal of a lower leg, and its replacement with a new ankle and foot - in titanium. (He says he enjoys people getting out of his way at airports, when they put him in a wheelchair so as not to set off the metal detector alarms.) ‘Well, I’m 56,’ he laughs. ‘And it’s time I slowed down.’ (Norman Chalmers)
JAZZ TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO CCA, Glasgow, Thu 13 May
This concert. the finale of their first UK tour. Will mark the Scottish debut of the Tord Gustavsen Trio. Their debut album for ECM Records. Changing Places. was
50 THE LIST 29 Apr-13 May 2004
released last year to considerable acclaim. and added yet more Norwegians to that label's distinguished stable.
The pianist is joined by bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad. While this trio enjoys a high priority in his musical thinking, it is one of a range of projects in which he has been involved. including work with alternative trios; with vocalists Siri Gjare and Kristin Asbjornsen as well as Nergaard: projects with clarinettists Simon Flem Devold and Carl Petter Opsahl; and involvement with what he calls ‘the Creative neo-New Orleans‘ Nymark Collective.
‘Taken together. the bands and projects represent my quest for a deepening of my own playing that moves towards more intimacy with the history of jazz. but without sacrificing the imperative of an individual "voice". This dual task is
extremely challenging. and can never be complete. but it offers a constant flow of possibilities for emotional and intellectual fulfilment in grooves. phrasing, melodies and timbre. And when the leSIC is really happening. I feel privileged to be able to contribute something.‘
The music on Changing Places is Subtle rather than assertive. and brings a fresh perspective to the time-honoured format of the piano trio (as Gustavsen says. 'one does not have to invent a new language to tell a new story“). The slow tempos. melodic beauty and delicate restraint of the compositions (all by the pianist) and perfOrmances encouraged the ritual comparisons with Bill Evans. but the pianist is emerging as very much his own man. with a distinct mUSlCal vision that is clearly shared by his collaborators in this highly compatible trio. (Kenny Mathieson)
INDIE ROCK JOY ZIPPER King Tut's, Glasgow, Tue 4 May
It’s post-Strokes 2004 and we've had enough. Record companies have been trying to make us believe that all the best new bands are coming out with g'r'ge rock for over a year now. a sound that has been so exploited and churned out by iiber-retro Neanderthals like Jet that it is now quite frankly Iistenable. And so we turn to the lush records filled with glorious harmonies. much like Joy Zipper's latest effort. American Whip. which features the golden touches of David Holmes. Kevin Shields and Glasgow's very own Tony Doogan.
The album was recorded after their self-titled debut in 1999. but the wasn't released until after last year‘s The Stereo and God due to record company hassles. It's all rather confusing. but all you need to know is that it is crammed to bursting with dreamy guitar pop and gorgeous melodies that worm their way inside yOur soul. and it's a sound that the couple came across together by mistake.
‘Vinny's band wanted to do a cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows'.‘ explains Tabitha Tindale (one half of the duo — Vincent Carfiso is the other). ‘So I wrote out the lyrics and sang them to him and he liked my voice so that was my big audMonI
Much is made of the fact that they live and work together but the charming pair are quick to point out that it's more of an issue for other people. 'lt‘s never been a problem for us: we fight but it's like any other couple.‘ says Tindale. ‘Sometimes we want to kill each other of c0urse.' laughs Carfiso. 'But we‘ve learnt to ignore each other even if we're in the same room and it's fine.‘
Inspired by Carfiso‘s love for a ‘nostalgic 70s sound like the Carpenters'. American Whip was recorded in East Hampton and Valley Stream. Long Island. New York. Belfast. London and. last but not least. Glasgow. and the band seem genuinely excited at the prospect of coming back. ‘We felt very at home in Glasgow.’ says Tindale. 'All the bands were really friendly and accepted us.’ ‘I'm really looking forward to it.‘ adds Tony. ‘The only thing is whenever we come to Glasgow we always end up not getting to sleep. it‘s a little crazy.‘ (Camilla Pia)