Fresh from a daytrip to Tralee for music exams this week and a Saturday morning stomp up the hill behind Ruscombe with the dog, listening to electric Miles Davis at Fillmore 1970 – this week we welcomed Gilad Atzmon and his Orient House Ensemble to Stroud, he promised a talk on his own individual “Road to Bop” before the gig, but naturally was keener to discuss geopolitical issues, the dominance of the cognitive elite, the oppression of political correctness, illustrated with diagrams of a Freudian bell curve (also reminiscent of Dopey’s hat in Snow White). He was disappointed that the audience were not more provoked or offended by his diagnoses – the freethinking jazzlovers of Stroud were probably rather more disturbed when he began the gig by strapping on an accordion. I expected his diatribe to be more focussed – it felt somewhat woolly, confused, from the top down, rather than building an argument that would draw people in, on the nature of early-C21st capitalism and global inequality. I watched the film Elysium the other day and that was at least as thought-provoking. Could we make an argument for universal global democracy, one person one vote, no borders?
The band was impressively tight, the drummer Chris Higginbotham standing out – Gilad’s saxophone playing is very traditional, nostalgic, rhapsodic, joyous, a populist stream of expression (channelling Coltrane on the soprano, Charlie Parker on the alto). The encore was Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World – as also featured by Andy Sheppard’s Pushy Doctors just before Xmas. These sax players are such romantics.
Reading matter for my trip to Ireland – Don Paterson’s Rain (that’ll be poetry, then). He’s very dry and Scottish (and occasionally a bit romantic too), and a guitarist on the side – one of my favourites is his Song for Natalie ‘Tusja’ Beridze, in praise of an obscure Georgian musician, shoehorning in all sorts of abstruse references beloved by readers and writers of The Wire magazine. And rhyming too (but not scanning). I heard him read in Cheltenham last year – you can get away with anything with a dry Scots accent.