We’ve just come back from a Birmingham City Council consultation meeting about the cities ‘Music Industry’. Over the 10 years we’ve been doing Capsule related activity we’ve been invited to a fair few of these things and still very little seems to have moved on.
It occured to us that based on our breakdown of tickets sales from Supersonic (see above) we have a relatively small West Midlands audience and having spoken to other independent folks within this area this seems to be the case across the creative industries. Birmingham dates regardless of genre always seem less well attended to those in other cities in the UK. There is no doubt there is a wealth of talent and tonnes of great people working really hard to promote stuff, run venues, labels etc. However it seems across the creative industries there is quite a limited regional audience that engages with independent activity. So my question to you wonderful folks is why do you think this is? What are the barriers and how do we work towards resolving it?
We’d be really happy to open this debate so – answers on a postcard.
Tony Dudley Evans of Birmingham Jazz wrote this great piece on contemporary free jazz and the genre’s links with rock and punk music.
The Variety of Free Jazz and Improvised Music Today
I spent a lot of the Christmas period listening to Keith Jarrett, the solo albums, the trio especially the Inside Out album recorded live in London and Jarrett’s American Quartet with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian Listening to these various recordings made me realise what a range of music now contains free improvisation and what a broad term ‘free jazz’ now is. Jarrett says on the album sleeve, free playing is ‘an amazingly important part of true jazz history’. He goes on to say:
We need to be even more in tune with each other to play this way, without material; and even more attentive. Every possibility is available if you take away the tunes, but only some are valid under the circumstances. It is only our sensitivity to the flux that determines whether the music succeeds or fails.
(Inside Out Album Sleeve ECM Records).
The term free jazz began to be used in relation to Ornette Coleman’s groups of the late 1950s, and the totally improvised album called Free Jazz for two pianoless quartets may well have established this term.
It is in Europe that the free jazz has developed its greatest freedom and improvisers such as Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Alex Schlippenbach, Albert Mangelsdorff and many others have established playing styles that have moved away totally from the conventions of American jazz. It was instructive to listen to two albums (also over the Christmas period!) produced as a result of Birmingham Jazz initiatives. Opus de Life with the Profound Sound Trio (Paul Dunmall, Henry Grimes and Andrew Cyrille) strikes me as free jazz that comes naturally from the jazz tradition. There are no tunes and everything is totally improvised, but the styles of playing of all three players seem to me to derive from a jazz approach.
Of course free jazz is not always energy music and both CDs referred to above contain passages of great gentleness and beauty and this is a constant feature of the best of free jazz. But this energy of free jazz does have an affinity with certain kinds of rock music. In recent years there have been a lot of collaborations between free jazz players and less mainstream rock or punk artists. Evan Parker has, for example, played with Jah Wobble and a number of ‘noise’ players; Paul Dunmall has played with Chris Corsano, Bjork’s drummer who also played a totally improvised duo set with Mick Flower on keys at The Supersonic Festival in 2009 and members of The Guillemots run their own free jazz group The Gannets. One of my favourite albums of 2009 was Sunn O>>>’s Dimensions and Extensions which put together Sunn O>>>’s drone metal guitar work with jazzers Julian Priester and Cuong Vu. Then a number of jazz groups such as The Thing, Peter Wareham’s Acoustic Ladyland and, even more, Pete’s The Final Terror and Led Bib are deliberately incorporating a strong rock and ‘in-your-face’ punk element into their approach.
It’s all a sign of how interesting the alternative music scene is at the moment and how barriers and boundaries are being broken down. One very interesting concrete piece of evidence of all this is the fact that a group called brass unbound is touring in late January and early February with the punk band The Ex and it seems that they will be playing together. Brass unbound consists of Mats Gustafsson of The Thing, Ken Vandermark, both on saxophones , Roy Paci on trumpet and Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos.
Ok folks we’re experimenting with this new technology malarky and so as well as finding our latest zine at our shows and in selected places in Brum you can now read it online. I’m sure by the next one we’ll have mastered adding links and possibly other such fancy things. In the meantime enjoy!
Welcome to the second edition of Capsule’s very own zine where you will find a variety of articles, reviews and rants, doodles, recipes and listings as well as a bit of info on what Capsule are up to.
If you want to contribute to future zines or tell us about your events for a listings page then drop us a hello at admin[at]capsule.org.uk
For your viewing pleasure, photos from our sold out Baroness + Taint show at the Hare & Hounds on Friday night – it was immense and we are very much looking forward to their return later in the year.
Photos by Katja Ogrin
“Once seen, a live performance by … The Ex is never forgotten. Imagine two men in short pants and army boots, guitars slung impossibly low, careering round the stage like demented dodgem cars, backed by a veritable arsenal of precision-honed polyrhythms” – The Wire
For 9 dates in Feb 2010 The Ex will unleash a brand new, wild and combustible show in collaboration with four of the world’s most powerful and performative horn players for some unbelievable in-the-red swing time. Brass Unbound comprise Swedish force of nature Mats Gustafsson (saxophone) from The Thing, Chicago jazz heavyweight Ken Vandermark (saxophone), Italian wild card Roy Paci (trumpet) and boundary busting classical/futurist Wolter Wierbos (trombone).
The Ex & Brass Unbound play at the Hare & Hounds on Monday 1st of Feb
Advanced Tickets from:
We got some beautiful flowers and fancy bottles of bubbly from Warm Circuit Records
Here are photos from our final birthday event which took place at Vivid, much merriment was had by all and the 6pm start certainly left a few folks a wee bit tipsy by the end. All the acts were local inhabitants, all were superb and just goes to show that Birmingham should be very proud of the wealth of talent that exists on our very doorstep. Special mention to Brian Duffy of the Modified Toy Orchestra, who despite extreme back pain and a haze of very strong pain killers played an absolutely storming set. It was an exhausting month and we should all be grateful that we will be 10 but once – a massive word of thanks to so many people that were involved in making these celebrations so much fun.
Stinky Wizzleteat opened proceedings with a fair bit of skipping
Una Corda were on top form and had even grown comedy moustaches for the occasion
Health & Efficiency used all manner of instruments
With tremendous drumming
Modified Toy Orchestra were on fine form with their new members
Barbie was looking stunning in her new party outfit
drum n bass duo PCM had everyone dancing like maniacs
Thanks to all of you that braved our first night of snow
Capsule Grannies not getting any younger
10 years of shows charted for all to see - we've done a fair few gigs!
Unit 316, Custard Factory