Thursday, July 26, 2007

Watching the Thorne

We have some friends, Frank and Moira, visiting us at the moment so last night we took them along to see Jon Thorne's tribute to bass player Danny Thompson at the RNCM. I've seen Jon several times and have a copy of his excellent Oedipus Complex CD, 'Manchester Road'. Generally speaking Jon's music is quite accessible and I know of Danny Thompson's playing with Kate Bush and with an all time fave of mine, David Sylvian, so I was expecting quite a 'melodic' gig. The set was in two halves with the first half being a quartet covering some of Danny's material and the latter Jon's commissioned piece for the festival, 'Watching the Well' named after Danny's contribution to Sylvian's song 'The Ink in the Well' that was a major inspiration for Jon picking up the double bass. The first half turned out to be some of the most free and avant-garde jazz I've heard at the festival and was quite hard going much of the time to tell the truth. This wasn't helped by the somewhat echoey and indistinct sound in the RNCM hall. The slightly mad saxophonist Gilad Atzmon was in attendance providing some suitably intense horn playing. I don't think it was the ideal start for our non-jazz fan friends who had been promised a fairly accessible gig.

The latter half was a much easier ride with some quite moving contemplative and almost classical pieces. Jon was conducting with Danny Thompson on double bass and the addition of strings, harp and vocals to the quartet. Jon described it as the most special concert he'd ever done and it was clearly a very personal and moving experience for him. It was touching to be part of that and I'm very glad we went along. He also paid tribute to Manchester and the nurturing environment that exists for musicians. It feels great for me to be part of this now and I have found also that almost everyone is positive and welcoming. This is quite different to my memories of the London indie 'scene' that was very competitive and quite cruel in many ways. It's taken me and Jane a while to settle in Manchester and this really helps us feel more content here.

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