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Stations Of The Cross

April 6th, 2003 | No Comments | Categories: Uncategorized |

Last night’s ‘gig’ went really well… The event was called ‘UpLate’ and is a sort of alternative worship service at a lovely old church in Thame, Oxfordshire. Once a month they take a theme and set up a whole load of different artistic/musical/poetic ‘stations’ for people to wander round and look at/listen to/read/meditation on, etc. All very inspiring stuff – it’s a great building, and the quality of the art is top notch – it’s kind of like a themed multimedia art-gallery, with good coffee, and a glass or two of wine… ;o)

Anyway, last night, with it being their easter edition, Evil Harv, Jez and I were asked to come up with 14 improvs based on the stations of the cross to soundtrack the whole evening, we were set a time, and given 14 works of art to help inspire us – well, scans of them anyway… The list of station titles is –

(1) Jesus’ agony in the garden
(2) Jesus is betrayed by Judas and is arrested
(3) Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
(4) Jesus is denied by Peter
(5) Jesus is condemned by Pontius Pilate
(6) Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
(7) Jesus is made to carry the cross
(8) Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus with His cross
(9) Jesus meets with the women of Jerusalem
(10) Jesus is crucified
(11) Jesus promises paradise to the repentant thief
(12) Jesus speaks to John and Mary on the cross
(13) Jesus dies on the cross
(14) Jesus is buried in the tomb.

So for each of those we did an improv. As you can tell from the subject matter, it wasn’t going to be a happy-jazz sesh, and some of what we played got really dark and atonal – trying to express in music the image of Jesus being whipped and having a crown of thorns rammed onto his head is always going to be a pretty brutal sonic experience! But it’s amazing the way having a concrete theme like this can focus the music way beyond just noodling. Often Jez and I when we’re doing duo stuff will latch onto a particular mood and work with that, in a more abstract, but still just as compelling (for us) way. This time, it was obvious to all three of us what the theme was before we started, and the beginnings of some of the improvs were particularly interesting while we settled into how we were going to tackle that particular image – was the music going to be mournful, confrontational, pain-wracked, hopeful. etc… the tension worked really well at dealing with the many many mixed emotions that the easter story brings up…

The good news is we’ve got some of it on minidisc. The band news is that the batteries ran out after about half an hour, so we didn’t get enough… We played for about two hours (only overran by about 45 minutes! :o) – and it would’ve been great to have it all, as there were some really special moments, so hopefully we’ll be able to do it again next year in a different setting…

Soundtrack – last night and this morning, I’ve been listening to some new recordings by a fabulous bass playing singer/songwriter called John Lester. John’s a californian, who until recently was living in Paris, but is now in London, and will hopefully be gigging all over the place pretty soon. He’s great, check him out. And before that yesterday, was listening to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thiller’ – another tune that was being done in a lesson (PYT), and then staying on the turntable (ahhhh, vinyl) for a few hours… It really is a very good album indeed.

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