Raymond MacDonald

Signal to Noise Winter 2007


Boohoo Fever (Leo LR 472)

George Burt / Raymond MacDonald Sextet

featuring Keith Tippett.


"George Burt and Raymond MacDonald are

free music archi­tects from Glasgow whose playing hovers between improvisation and composition. They regularly engage with outsiders: previous recordings have featured Future Pilot AKA and Lol Coxhill; MacDonald is also head of the Glasgow Irnprovisers Orchestra.


Boohoo Fever is the second album sourced from the sextet’s Tobermory Arts Centre commission to celebrate the town’s clock, built from funds bequeathed by traveller Isabella Bird as a tribute to her sister Henrietta: the first, A Day for a Reason, appeared in 2005 on Tob Records.


Burt and MacDonald key into a peculiarly British approach to free music that slips post-idiomatic playing against mischievous, borderline-arch genre-parody songs and gor­geously teary melodies, and in that respect they’ve found an agile collaborator in Keith Tippett. When he’s unhooked from struc­ture his playing is gorgeous, but some of the most revelatory moments come via his piano preparations, which turn the instrument into a fifty-handed steel drum orchestra on the sashaying “The Forgotten Croft”. A duo tussle between MacDonald on saxo­phone and George Lyle on double bass entitled “Mr Dolphin’s Gig” is suitably tetchy and busy: pieces like this work as potent contrasts to sad-eyed ballads like “The Gallery”, where Nicola MacDonald’s voice is devastatingly melancholy."

Jon Dale

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




Boohoo Fever

(LEO CD LR 472 Rude Dwellings)

George Burt / Raymond MacDonald Sextet

George Burt (guitar),

Raymond MacDonald (alto/soprano saxs), Keith Tippett (piano),

George Lyle (bass), Alyn Cosker (drums),

Nicola MacDonald (vovals/ meolodica).


"Not many albums begin their journey towards completion by celebrating a town clock. Keith Tippett is the Sextet’s featured guest for this recording, having made his lengthy and winding way northwards to the Isle of Mull, where stands the town of Tobermory’s ticking time-piece. Booklet scribe Brian Morton will fill you in on the convoluted conceptual background to these pieces, but only after making a purchase of this disc. It’s good reading, but is certainly not needed to appreciate the music’s ever-shifting abstractions.


The opening “Rude Dwellings” is afire, and this flare-up will not diminish during the album’s entire progress. The band are vigorous and tensed, tightly contracted for maximum impact, feverishly burning to play. Tippett’s rolling runs wend their prepared-key way, barrelling through Alyn Cosker’s crashing drum strafes. George Lyle’s upright bass is so forcefully struck that it has the hardness of and electric axe. “Glen Eyric” goes for building suspense, as- droves of bruised tunes flee hither and thither, amidst a groaning and grinding suspension of tension.


There’s a shift of tone again, as “Ito’s Vanity” has Burt playing like Derek Bailey, fresh out of his dance band days, with melodica chills courtesy of Nicola MacDonald. The space is open, as Raymond MacDonald sends out flurries of burred lowness.


He remains at the forefront for “Mr. Dolphin’s Gig”, his jabbering issuances not pausing for breath. This sextet knows all about variety. They’re not averse to a premeditated tune, either. “The Forgotten Croft” is a crabbily melodic roll, and then a few numbers later Nicola MacDonald turns in a vocal float, lending further planned structure.


These are radically differing soundscapes, all delivered with great emotional intensity and a strong sense of the importance of the moment. Risks have been taken, and the Sextet plunge and rise between Hades and Heaven, grinning madly all the time."