Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Podcast Yer Xmas

Inspired by guitarist Mike Outram's 'Electric Campfire' blogpost, '19 great books about music, musicians, artists and the creative process', I thought I'd share a couple of links to some great audio and video resources that I've been looking at recently:

There's the Georgia State University 'History of Jazz' podcast available via ITunes U. It's best to search for 'history of jazz' in ITunes for that one, but you can go to the RSS feed directly. I've listened to a few of these now and they're a great free resource.

There's also the Yale University 'Listening to Music' course that also available as a podcast via ITunes U or via the Yale website. It's a classical music course, so not a jazz thing, but very useful nonetheless.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Some Other Time

Some Other Country, Band on the Wall, Manchester, 17th December 2009

We were treated to a bit of a one-off at the recently re-opened Band on the Wall last week in the form of a re-grouping of 'Some Other Country', a Manchester fusion band from the 1990s. The band are the stuff of myth and legend for those who weren't around to see them back in the day, the only documented references being from a passing mention on guitarist Mike Walker's website and in a wikipedia piece.

Well, what a great start, for this listener at least. The band opened up with a loosely improvised version of Miles' 'Shh/Peaceful', Roy Powell on keys dropping the distinctive chord sequence in to hook the tune down. It's great to hear this kind of vibe. If only we got more of it. A lovely piece of echo loop backed Rhodes introspection from Powell seduced us into 'Heavy Bastard' before Steve Gilbert on drums and Gary Culshaw on electric bass nailed a thick and tasty deep groove tight to the floor. Walker skanked, scratched and shimmied before laying some thick and creamy Boogied Bergundy 335 guitar on us. Feedback sustain guitar was the order of the day, Walker coaxing and stroking the sympathetic overtones with great deftness.

The last tune of the first set was another chunk of fusion-tastic goodness. The smouldering groove supplied by Gilbert was pure delight, providing a counterfoil to Walker's gnarling knitted lines. The Metheny-like lightness of the melody section gave Culshaw a chance to add some period flanged bass.

The sonorities of the Eno-style ambient synthesiser and guitar feedback shots on 'Fortune Cookie' wouldn't have been amiss on a prog rock album, though the raw piquancy of a few sharp ll and major 7 notes from Walker reminded us of just where we were. The track then opened out, and Walker provided enough feedback sustain delights to keep a Hendrix fan going through the dark winter nights.

The fast groove of the Powell penned 'Mump Beak' closed the set, complete with its keyboard stabs and clipped guitar riffing. Once again Walker turned the thermostat up a few degrees with an intense angular overdriven sortie. Powell retorted with some caustic synth lines, Gilbert and Culshaw all the while keeping the fire stoked in the engine room. Some sustained applause brought the band back for a reprise to end a touching and really quite heart-warming evening. It's really great to see this truly historic Manchester venue open again. The sound tonight was bang on, and there was such a lovely vibe in the house. Hats off and lets have some more please.

A photo of Some Other Country from back in the day: