I take it I wasn’t the only person to spot Alyn Cosker and Chris Greive in the house band on BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay Live show a couple of nights back?
Last year, improvising trio NeWt played a couple of concerts devoted entirely to the music of Led Zeppelin. It was such a success that they’re doing it again this year.
NeWt play Led Zeppelin at the Jazz Bar in Chambers Street from Tuesday 23rd to Saturday 26th. The show starts at 8.30pm and tickets are £7.
You might not initially recognise it, but this is “Moby Dick”. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t have a twenty minute drum solo.)
NeWt are busy chaps at the moment.
Last Wednesday Radio Scotland’s “The Jazz House” broadcast an interview with them. If you missed it, the programme’s repeated tomorrow at 8pm, and available online until the 24th. The show also includes a solo session from Jim Mullen.
On Friday, John Fordham gave their recent album NeWt 2 featuring Silke Eberhard a favourable review in the Guardian.
On Monday, they’re performing at the RSAMD as part of the early evening Blue Mondays season, starting at 6.30pm. At least, I think they are: the early publicity said it would just be Chris Greive but more recent material, including their guitarist Graeme Stephen’s web site, says that it will be the full trio. However many of them turn up, expect some involvement from the RSAMD’s jazz students as well.
Later that night, Radio 3’s “Jazz on Three” is broadcasting a set recorded during their recent tour with German alto sax and clarinet player Silke Eberhard. It’s their Manchester gig: if it’s as good as their Glasgow concert it will be well worth catching. The show will be available online for a week after it goes out.
Glasgow Art Club, 31st March 2010
This might have been billed as a trio plus guest, but throughout Thursday’s concert, NeWt and Silke Eberhard sounded like a single unified entity. Indeed, it was sometimes difficult to tell exactly how many musicians were playing, and what instruments they were using. Largely this was a result of trombonist Chris Greive and guitarist Graeme Stephen frequently treating their sounds with a lot of electronics. Grame Stephen played sitting down in order to have easy access to an assortment of effects boxes and pedals which he used not just to produce a wide range of tones from his guitar, but at times to sample and loop his own playing then solo over the top of this loop. Chris Greive frequently used some sort of pitch shifting pedal to take his lines down into the bass guitar register, so that it was easy at times to forget that the band didn’t have a bass player.
Silke Eberhard was very impressive, whether playing alto or, on a couple of numbers, clarinet. She seemed capable of handling everything from fairly straightahead bebop to avant-garde squawks. One moment she and Greive would be riffing like an r & b horn section, the next one of them would be playing an inventive solo. Drummer Chris Wallace was equally versatile, capable of fiercely driving the music forward, or of adding delicate colours from a range of bells and rattles.
Eberhard’s reputation is partly as a free-improviser, but the music on offer here was definitely jazz, even if not exactly orthodox jazz. Tunes would start off fairly normally but suddenly veer off in an unexpected directions. There were a lot of disparate elements involved: orthodox post-bop, rock riffs, free blowing, and the occasional hint of folk music, but they were all thoroughly integrated into a highly-inventive group sound. At times I thought there was a hint of Captain Beefheart’s later Magic Bands, with trombone blowing over warped electric blues.
The following night’s gig, at Matt and Phred’s in Manchester, was being recorded for BBC Radio Three’s Jazz on Three. Keep an eye out for it: if it’s anything like as good as their Glasgow performance it will be very good indeed. The Glasgow concert was also reviewed in the Herald.
The Herald also has a review of Mira Opalinska’s Edinburgh gig. It sounds as if it was a good show, so it’s a pity her Glasgow performance clashed with the NeWt/Eberhard one.
John Kenny’s Red Shift
Glasgow Art Club, Wednesday 20th October 2010
I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out: five trombones, piano, bass and drums isn’t a usual line-up, and I was worried that it was all either going to sound terribly samey, or else be utterly over the top. But it worked really well. The horn players each had their own style, and when you added in some skilful use of various mutes, there was enough variety in the arrangements to stop things getting monotonous. John Kenny added a bit of variety to the sound by playing bass trombone, plus what looked like an alto trombone (if there’s such a thing) on one number.
They played a few standards, starting with a Horace Silver tune and a version of “Surrey with a Fringe on Top”, but most of the music was written either by Rick Taylor or Tom Bancroft. Each of them contributed one longish multi-section piece, but in general I thought the shorter pieces worked better, with the stand-outs being a moving Bancroft ballad called something like “Don’t break your heart like Rikki Lee Jones” and a fast Taylor piece dedicated to one of his neighbours on Skye. If there was a stand-out soloist, it wasn’t actually any of the trombonists (John Kenny, Patrick Kenny, Chris Greive, Michael Owers and Rick Taylor), but pianist Chick Lyall. I hadn’t heard him for quite some time, but based on this performance and that on Tom Bancroft’s recent big band album, he’s now playing some of the best piano of his career. Tom Lyne on bass completed the line-up.
Paul Harrison Quintet featuring Alan Barnes
Recital Room, Sunday 24th October 2010
It’s a mark of how much Scottish jazz has come on in the past twenty-five or so years that all four local members of the Paul Harrison Quintet held their own with visiting London sax player Alan Barnes.
There were two parts to the concert: in the first, they played a suite of pieces Paul Harrison wrote for Hospitalfield House jazz venue in Arbroath, and in the second they played a selection of standards. If I’d one minor gripe about the concert, it was that I thought the order could have been reversed, as the relatively short set of standards seemed a bit light-weight compared to the much longer first set.
This was very much a Paul Harrison gig with Alan Barnes on sax (and on one duet with Harrison, clarinet) rather than Barnes plus local support. As a pianist Harrison just seems to get better and better. I don’t know if it’s the experience of accompanying a top singer as part of Carol Kidd’s group, but he’s developed a great sense of how to use the silence between phrases as part of his musical argument. One of the highlights of the evening was his trio performance of “Autumn in New York” with drummer Stuart Brown and bassist Ed Kelly. Alan Barnes and trombonist Phil O’Malley were both more than competent, but this was Harrison’s night.
Herald review by Rob Adams
A Thursday night dilemma
Drummer Asaf Sirkis’s Trio at the Glasgow Arts Club (a chance to hear what the venue sounds like with an electric band) or the Frank Vignola Trio at the Ferry? If last weekend was one for the trombone fans, this Thursday night is guitar night.