Raymond MacDonald




Live at CCA, Glasgow


Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

with George Lewis


"Improvised music and curling don’t immediately resonate as companion activities but the sweeping of a stone across ice by opposing brush-wielders was how George Lewis summed up how music might develop as musicians sought to introduce ideas in an environment such as Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra.


The Chicago-born trombonist, composer and scholar is the latest in an impressive line of collaborators that the orchestra has brought to Glasgow in its five-year history and the results were, arguably, the most stimulating so far.


Where previous projects have produced powerful and often intriguing music, Lewis brought a greater sense of organisation and composition to the bandstand without sacrificing the music’s intrinsic spontaneity. Arranged in sections – cello and basses stage left, computer generated sounds, voice and guitars stage right and so on – the orchestra responded to suggestions which were written rather than notated, working in units that combined to create compelling atmospheres and structural continuity.


Even in a piece through which each musician was left to find his or her own way, this structure and continuity obtained, as a simple motif was picked up and passed from saxophone to drums and onwards before the sound of a stylus crackling on vinyl signalled the end of the “record”.


There were times, as there generally are in these situations, when silences had to be confirmed as actual endings. But overall the results were genuinely satisfying and involving for listener as well as performer.


Touches of theatre – including Lewis creating some amazing sounds with just trombone mouthpiece and slide – and pre- and post-performance chats also created an air of informality that added considerably to the enjoyment."

Rob Adams

REVIEWS 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8




Picks of the Week


“Delphinius & Lyra”

(Clean Feed, 2007)

Raymond MacDonald (alto/soprano saxs

Gunter Baby Sommer (drums/percussion)


"It is rare that free jazz drummer develops such a distinct style as German master Gunter “Baby” Sommer, one of the most noted free jazz players of the European scene during the 70’s and 80’s.


Although he didn’t play on as many seminal albums as Han Bennink, who established himself amongst jazz aficionados as the pioneering percussionist in Central Europe during the 60’s and 70’s, Sommer is known for his ability to create an infectious, quirky sense of rhythm through use of a lighter approach to the percussion, as opposed to the sonic aggression approach. For more proof, see 1988’s “Reserve” and 1982’s cult classic “Pica Pica,” both featuring Peter Brotzmann.


It is exactly this style that Sommer brings to the table in this duo with Scottish reed master Raymond MacDonald. MacDonald first began producing material in the mid-90’s, but has blossomed in the new millennium, most notably as the co-leader of an ensemble with George Burt. On this album, MacDonald thrives thanks to a master a furiously squeaky style which perfectly compliments Sommer’s earthy, and subtly catchy percussion work."

Mike Szajewski,