The Ferry, Glasgow, Sat 20 Jun As mournful tenor trembles above falsetto and baritone amid a bubbling cacophony of bass and effect. the statuesque and trance-inducing ‘Fisherman' ushers in a cult reggae masterpiece.
It is tempting if unfair to say that The Congos have carved a career out of that singular past glory. It is true that nothing they have released has come close to touching their blisteringly hot. proto-dub debut Heart of the Congos but they have hardly been resting on their laurels. Rather disputes, splits. solo careers. reformations and a heap of undeniably lesser albums have. one would surmise. kept the roots reggae vocal trio pretty busy in the three-and- a-bit decades since its initial release. Of course they had Lee ‘Scratch' Perry at the helm for that revered debut, not to mention illustrious contributors like Ernest Ranglin at hand. making ‘a tough act to follow' something of an understatement. However, lamenting the absence of Perry‘s Black Ark studio wizardry denies the extraordinary vocal talents of Myton. Johnson and Burnett themselves. this fortnight at the Glasgow International Jazz Festival.
After the international impact of their brilliant first outing was quashed by bampot Perry's crumbling relationship with Island Records. The Congos in their various line-ups and guises have proved among reggae's most enduring artists. Certainly their offerings in recent years have been reassuringly good. once again attracting venerated contributors. and the trio has sustained a live attraction of some regard. Many more have been long admired for considerably less. (Mark Edmundson)
PREVIEW FOLK A HAWK AND A HACKSAW
The Tolbooth, Stirling, Sat 20 Jun; The Arches, Glasgow, Sun 21 Jun
The boisterous yet melancholy sounds of Eastern European folk music have long entranced Western musicians. from avant-jazzer John Zorn to indie-pop cosmopolitan Beirut. But few have gone as far as A Hawk and a Hacksaw in their exploration of Balkan roots. New Mexico native Jeremy Barnes and partner Heather Trost's musical nornadism has taken them from the US and England to Prague. Romania and. most recently. Budapest. This isn't to say A Hawk and a Hacksaw are an authentic Balkan folk band - their music also bears traces of Middle Eastern music. jazz. pop and minimalism — but it's certainly the sound closest to their hearts. That influence first surfaced on second album. Darkness at Noon. which saw Barnes picking up the accordion. and Trost contributing dervish-like violin. Since then. the duo have collaborated with the incredible gypsy brass band Fanfare Ciocarlia (on 2006's The Way the Wind B/ows) and Hungarian musicians Hun Hangar Ensemble. as well as Glasgow-based multi-instrumentalist Chris Hladowski. whose avant-folk project. The Family Elan. provide
support on these dates.
Latest album Deliverance is A Hawk and a Hacksaw's finest effort to date. combining traditional tunes with impressive originals. Greek dance rhythms and Mariachi horns drive Trost's ‘Foni Tu Argile'. while the keening violin melody of 'LaSSu' evokes Scottish fiddle music and Chinese opera. The expanded live band is a dazzling prospect — watch out. in particular, for Kalman Balogh. whose mastery of the dulcimer-like cimbalom should prove gloriously
intoxicating. (Stewart Smith)
GlasgowJazz Festival Music
PREVIEW SOUL JAZZ YOLANDA BROWN
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 21 Jun
Twenty-six-year-old London—born saxophonist YolanDa Brown is already remarkably successful. winning a MOBO award last year and collaborating With Alexander O‘Neil. Mica Paris and The Temptations. all on the back of just two self- released EPs. Here she gives us an insight into her world. Your music seems to be influenced by every genre imaginable, how did that come about?
'I grew up listening to absolutely everything — folk music. Greek music. my parents are Jamaican so I heard a lot of reggae. but also classical. jazz and everything in between. I didn't go out to piece together these genres in my music: that's just my natural rhythm. Sometimes I try and focus on one genre. but other rhythms keep coming back in. like putting a Latin vibe into a reggae song.‘
How did you discover the saxophone?
‘I grew up playing a range of instruments. starting on the
piano aged six. I also played the violin. drums and recorder.
but there's something ab0ut Wind instruments, playing through them feels like yOu're playing more from within yOurself. When I got introduced to the saxophone it felt like a natural extension of me. like my voice. | c0u|d communicate and express my feelings best through it.’
You won the M080 last year for Best Jazz Act, beating the likes of Courtney Pine, how did that feel?
‘The whole evening was a big blur. I went thinking it would be a good night. maybe an opportunity to network. that was all. I was nominated against some huge artists who I'd looked up to as a kid. it was incredible to be in the same room as them. To Win was amazing. especially because it was a public vote. that's what overwhelmed me the most.‘
You also have two MAs, teach business studies and are finishing a PhD at Kent University, how does that fit in with music?
'l'm definitely interested in both. I can't choose between them so I just have to make the time for both. But the music is going to take precedence once the PhD is finished. because playing saxophone is my calling.‘ (Doug Johnstone)
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