Gig last night…

Despite being exhausted, the promise of a chance to play a set with Orphy and a couple of friends from the States last night at the Red Rose was too tempting, so I headed off out again.

I took a much scaled down rig with me, as I knew I was only going to be playing for about 10 minutes, and really couldn’t be arsed to take the whole lot out again after setting it up and packing it down 12 days in a row at Edinburgh!

the Americans in question are Jeff Kaiser and Andrew Pask playing trumpet (jeff), sax and clarinet (andrew) through lots of delicious electronic processing (Andrew works for Cycling 74, so has written some glorious loop algorythms for Max/MSP).

They did about 25 minutes, and then Orphy and I joined them for a 10 minute improv thingie, which sounded lovely from where I was sat.

The rest of the evening was fun too – a solo trombone set from Alan Tomlinson was a mindblowing mixture of virtuosic free improv and clowning. Very funny indeed.

Then Evan Parker and John Coxon did a lovely guitar/sax duet, which ran the gamut from outnoisemadness to a bluesy mellow jazz bit in the middle and back to freakoutland. Very fine stuff.

And finally a quintet of Tony Bevan (bass sax), Mark Saunders (drums), John Edwards (bass), Ashley Wales (electronics) and Orphy (percussion etc.) finished off the night with more craziness.

And what’s more there was a huge crowd in – by far the biggest I’ve ever seen at the Red Rose, which was great especially for Jeff and Andrew, coming all this way. It was lovely to catch up with Jeff – he came to one of my gigs a couple of years ago in Ventura County, California, and loved it and we’ve been in touch ever since, so it was great to finally get to see him play live.

The London Improv scene is fascinating – it’s got a pretty unique sound to it, and a fairly broad spread of contributors. There are elements to it that come across as over-zealous in their rejection of all things tonal, and other players who seem to embrace just about anything and everything. It’s not a scene I could inhabit all year round – I’d start to feel guilty about playing so much inside music, and that’s insane – but it’s one that I feel enriched and inspired by whenever I get a chance to see those guys play. The time and energy and focus that players like John Edwards and Tony Bevan have put into exploring the outer reaches of what’s possible with their instruments is awe inspiring.

And now I’m exhausted. Today I’m going to have to tidy up the mess from Edinburgh – my office looks like the stock room at a badly organised high-end bass shop, so I need to whip it into shape before teaching tonight.

SoundtrackAvishai Cohen, ‘Lyla’ (a pressie to educate me from JazzShark – and a fabulous album it is too!)

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