Tag Archives: Jazz

Paul Towndrow’s Deepening the River, Glasgow, 11th August 2018 ******


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

 

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Soundbone, The Arts Club June 2015

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We arrived early!
Perhaps I should have read the blurb a little closer. On seeing that this trio were to feature Led Zeppelin tunes, I somewhat lazily imagined they might pepper up a conventional set of ‘some of our own compositions’ with perhaps three, mibbe four, Zep tunes. Wrong!
On the night in question ten, count ‘em, Page/Plant all time classics were offered up, one right after the other, for our aural delight.

Soundbone’ as they’re known, deconstructed, dissected and embellished these ten tunes, pulling and pushing about those juicy riffs, that we all know and love, and also constantly reminded this particular listener of Zeppelin’s subtler moments and melodies. All of this, I should add, was amidst their own improvised soundscapes at the beginning, ending and during the songs in question.

So enamoured with this musical melange, were we, that, a tad distracted, we even began applauding before the completion of Black Dog for which we were ever so (s)lightly rebuked :).

Chris Greive, with his electronically enhanced trombone, led the band through two sets of soundscape/rifferama that was  an absolute joy to behold. He enhances the ‘bone with wah-wah and octave divider FX pedals, controlled from a hand switch, while he plays.
Over the decades, I’ve heard Bruce Fowler and the likes do such things on record, and film, before. This is the first I’ve encountered it in the flesh. The bass effect in particular is very impressive. Punchy and fast.

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Graeme Stephen meanwhile is, without doubt, the best guitarist I’ve seen perform in this lovely wee venue. Certainly the only one to eschew the wearing of shoes while sporting two odd socks. At one point , during Kashmir, which also featured Greive’s ‘vocoder like’ vocals, Stephen was channelling the spirit of Robert Fripp with a wonderful elongated ‘Sailors Tale’ style shred-fest which sounded to me like some wounded banjo that was quite clearly in distress.

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Elsewhere, Whole Lotta Love required a whole lotta lungs, when a didgeridoo was deployed to bring the first set to a close. Drummer David Carnegie was a powerhouse throughout, easily mimicking Bonham’s famous backbeats and navigating his cohorts from section to section. His solo meanwhile, in the otherwise lengthy Moby Dick, was briefer than some drummers’ fills!

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Thursday night at The Arts Club is, sadly, one of Glasgow’s best kept secrets. I manage to get along there, most weeks, but it’s never really that busy. More’s the pity, as that’s three particularly good, young, bands that I’ve encountered there in the last six months (namely Preston-Glasgow-Lowe, Chris Whitehouse’s Connected Band & Soundbone)

Tonight’s audience, unfortunately, was of a size that could have departed homewards in the one minibus. It’s a credit to Bill Kyle and Bridge Music  that these things are kept ticking over, despite the recent denial of funding from Creative Scotland

I for one have written to my newly elected MP and MSP (is Jazz devolved or does it just smell that way? ) asking them to kick CS up the arse and get their finger out. Please pardon my mixed metaphors.

To finish, on soundbone, ……just go see ‘em!

Spoiler Alert; Setlist

Black Dog
Communication Breakdown
Going to California
Kashmir
Whole Lotta Love

 

Misty Mountain Hop
Moby Dick
Heartbreaker
The Immigrant Song
Living Loving Maid