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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Two gigs

May 13th, 2006 | No Comments | Categories: Music News |

one mine, one not mine.

Thursday morning I get an email from Todd Reynolds – the amazing violinist who’s doing the RC gig next week – asking if I wanted to go and see him playing at the QEH with the Michael Gordon band that evening. Of course I did!

Got to the gig slightly late due to lack of parking spaces, but walked in to the lovely sound of Max De Wardener and his band. The fact that he was playing Cloud Chamber bowls (a Harry Partch-invented instrument) warmed me to the group anyway, but the music was sublime. Really gorgeous ambient, occasionally minimalist contemporary classical stuff, but with a kit drummer which gave it a post-rock feel at times. Magical stuff.

And Michael Gordon’s band similarly occupied a space between chamber music and post rock, but way more to the RAWK end. I was actually quite surprised as how conventional the assignment of the roles in the band was – bass playing low notes, drums playing typical kit rhythms, keyboards playing pads and ostinatos, guitar doing big guitar and twiddling and violin as the dominant solo voice… not much swapping around within that, but I guess those are the parameters that Michael has set himself to work within, and the music was fantastic. At times majestic, scary, subtle, gentle, bombastic and very clever. A most enjoyable gig. Definitely the kind of thing that would appeal just as much to fans of God Speed You Black Emperor or Sigur Ros as to those of Michael Nyman, Philip Glass etc.

Friday was the me-gig. Well, not just me – it was a duo gig with lovely saxophonist, Andy Williamson. The gig was at Merton College in Oxford, where Andy had studied some time in the late 17th century, and was part of their arts festival.

Merton College is a gorgeous place, though it definitely looks more like Hogwarts than a place to learn modern stuff. I was half expecting to see Prof. Sprout or someone wander out of one of the ancient doorways. The big strangeness was being around students again – the thought that they’re almost young enough to legally be my kids was very strange, particularly when Andy and I nipped into the bar (£2.10 for a G&T and an orange juice???? how do they make any money at all??)

Anyway, the gig went very well – we only had half an hour to play, and the set list was –

Grace And Gratitude (me solo)
Amo Amatis Amare – (andy joined in, doing a fab job on this)
Scott Peck – (a rather different version with extended sax ending with lots of loopage that faded out and left Andy to wander up the venue playing a GORGEOUS unaccompanied sax solo, using the natural ambience of the room to mesmeric effect.)
Lovely – (Andy learnt Theo’s sax line note for note, only played on tenor instead of soprano. Another great job.
and to finish, we did People Get Ready, which we’d played together at the Edinburgh Festival last year.

All in all a top gig – Andy acquitted himself admirably, played a blinder, and the audience seemed to enjoy it. Much fun, hopefully to be repeated fairly soon!

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