I missed the premier of this, the night before, due to being through at the Fringe to catch Orange Claw Hammer. At the time of writing, Google Search finds me no review of this splendid evening, so to correct that glitch, here’s my tuppence-worth!
All my fears that the evening’s ‘experiment’ might just turn out to be the bastard son of The Grit Orchestra were completely extinguished, within the first thirty seconds of tonight’s show. Instead, an engaging, evolving one hour long soundscape unfolded before the audience, seated in the salubrious The Merchants House of Glasgow, slowly transporting those lucky audients away on an exotic sonic travelogue across several continents.
With Paul Towndrow at the helm of his twenty two strong Keywork Orchestra, the sonic palette that the composer had to hand was sampled to the extreme, in a performance that deployed all the usual Scottish big band suspects.
It’s always a great pleasure to relish the Power-Bop of the perma-grinning Konrad Wiszniewski and tonight was no exception. The Brass and Rhythm sections were well represented, as you might expect in a venture of this size, but Towndrow had also spiced the band up with a variety of long whistles, pipes & fiddles and not forgetting the poppy red Sousaphone of Michael Owers which was featured in a ‘Dixieland‘ section. However the (sp)icing on the cake, for myself, was the tabla and harmonium served up by the extremely difficult to see, sitting cross legged on the floor, Sodhi.
Muscular, punchy and never discordant, if I had to describe this music ever so briefly to someone standing at a bus stop, then it reminded me very much of what a melange of Mike Gibbs, Don Ellis and Mike Westbrook might sound like…and that’s a good thing!
Towndrow and his cohorts were on ferociously good form tonight, every one a hero, with the bandleader and composer playing as well as I’ve ever seen him.
I’ve given them six stars out of five, the extra one being for stamina (there was no break at all in the proceedings).
Should he/they do it again get yourself along there, pronto.
Only real downside for me tonight was the number of people ‘phone filming’ during the gig, Really? In a venue as intimate as this? Show some respect to the musicians and the rest of the audience!!!
For the record, I took three stills during the bows and applause. The Google fairies stitched them together overnight without me asking.
The Keywork Orchestra were
Trumpet – Sean Gibbs
Trumpet – Tom MacNiven
Trumpet – Tom Walsh
Trumpet – Neil Yates
Trombone – Chris Grieve
Trombone – Phil O’Malley
Trombone – Rick Taylor
Bass Trombone & Sousaphone – Michael Owers
Saxophone – Rachael Cohen (Alto)
Saxophone – Bill Fleming (Baritone)
Saxophone – Helena Kay (Tenor)
Saxophone – Martin Kershaw (Alto + Woodwinds)
Saxophone – Paul Towndrow (Alto)
Saxophone – Konrad Wiszniewski (Tenor)
Bass – Euan Burton
Drums – Alyn Cosker
Piano – Steve Hamilton
Vibraphone – Miro Herak
Whistles+ Pipes – Ross Ainslie
Fiddle – Adam Sutherland
Fiddle – Laura Wilkie
Tabla – Sodhi