Details of the Autumn concert schedules in Glasgow are beginning to emerge. I’ll take a more general look at them later. For now I’ll just mention a couple of projects involving major American musicians working with local bands. It’s traditional to refer to temporary collaborators as “special guests”, but these guests are more special than most.
Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra are bringing Smith’s former employer Gary Burton to Scotland to do a short tour. They will be playing music by Wayne Shorter in specially-commissioned arrangements by a variety of people including Mike Gibbs, Florian Ross and Michael Abene (who runs the WDR Big Band in Cologne). They are at the RSAMD in Glasgow on Saturday 12th September. Tickets are available from the RSAMD web site. Details of the other concerts, in St Andrews, Edinburgh, Stirling and Gordonstoun(!), can be found on the SNJO site.
The Burt-MacDonald Quintet have a history of collaborating with other musicians from the free-er areas of jazz, including recording with Lol Coxhill and Keith Tippett. They pull off something of a coup in October, when they are performing with the great American improvising pianist Marilyn Crispell. According to Crispell’s web site, the concert will consist of a solo set by her plus a set with the band. She’s playing a few other concerts in the UK, notably at the On The Outside festival on Tyneside, but this Glasgow performance (City Halls Recital Room, October 13th) is the only one to feature the Burt-Macdonald group.
Crispell is one of the major figures in contemporary improvisation: whether she’s playing in a dense dissonant style, or more lyrically, she’s always worth hearing. I have fond memories of her 2000 gig with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian at the CCA (when it was in its temporary home at the Maclellan Galleries). It will be interesting to hear how well this collaboration works: Crispell’s intensity isn’t the most obvious match for Burt-MacDonald’s distinctive blend of catchy melody and free improvisation.