Sound Lab: City Halls, Glasgow March 2012
Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra
"Over the next 12 weeks the sound lab series of recitals will see experimental performers from Siberia, Iceland and the US join home-grown musicians in the intimate setting of the City Hall's recital room.
It's a bold endeavour featuring music created largely in the moment and drawing on various traditions, involving instruments from synthesisers to jaw harps and the human voice.
This first instalment marked the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra's 10th anniversary, and focused on a series of small group "chamber" improvisations, duos, trios and a quartet, with a ten-piece edition of the orchestra convening for the finale. The results were a little mixed: some of the groupings were a little tentative but nonetheless contained moments of interest where the sounds created showed genuine invention and interaction.
The most successful were the improvisations that achieved a natural sense of continuity, either in the impromptu song-like structure of Robert Henderson's trumpet playing, in a trio with bassist Una McGlone and pianist Gerry Rossi; or in the duetting of harper Catriona McKay and Raymond MacDonald.
MacDonald's whistled melody created a plaintive beginning for the full ensemble's rugged but considered mix of double bass spurts, piano thrusts, trumpet, melodica and flute passages and acoustic guitar and cello bursts that gave each musician an input, and showed what the GIO can achieve in spontaneous performance".
“Stepping Between the Shadows”
Raymond MacDonald International Big Band
"high-pitched soprano tones emerge from within the piano, sparkling, knocking and squeaking ghostily with each other, while Evan Parker-like flickerings flirt with sparking arpeggios"
"clutching onto the dark blue flower"
"A euphoric ridge of high pressure... which soon flows back into the dark blue again"
"MacDonald continues without stopping, trilling like a lark suspended in the air, while Spence [simply] lets the piano strings reverberate".
"The divided charge is now throwing off sparks continuously"
"An amazing decrescendo".