Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Glasgow Improvisors Orchestra

The problem of having such a busy schedule is that I keep coming across things that sound cool, but I can't write about them in a way that would do them justice. I don't like just doing question and answer sessions, or regurgitating press releases, but the amount of research I'd have to do to make an intelligent stab at describing the Glasgow Improviser Orchestra's weekend of events is precluded by my very real need to watch a pantomime at The Pavilion.

The GIO has been going for ten years, so they've probably found a tune or two by now. Improvisation seems to turn up all over the arts these days - contact improvisation in dance, live poetry slams, making shit up on the Radio Show - but I most strongly associate it with jazz. I always thought it had a political quality, appealing to my anarchic love of the spontaneous, and manifesting as a way of avoiding the tyranny of the expected, a clear path for artist self-expression in the moment and a beautiful way of building communication within a community.

The GIO have fortunately invited at least one jazz musician along - the mighty Evan Parker - and a German free jazz supergroup, the Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio, so my understanding isn't too far off. There's also a commission by Jim O'Rourke, who used to be in Sonic Youth. 

Earlier this week, the GIO launched their new CD, which included settings of poems by Edwin Morgan: later, the Shetland Improvisers Orchestra will make their first appearance on the mainland. The weekend is broken into a series of gigs, each one emphasising a different set of performers.

Another guest, Maggie Nicols, founded the Feminist Improvising Group, which supports my assumption that improvisation can have a political edge. She's jamming with a flutist, a double-bassist and a vocalist, Aileen Campbell, who is also a visual artist. After seeing Penny Chivas and Dominic Snyder work together on a dance and drawing number for The Glasgow Print Studio, I'm hoping that this will connect the dots between music and visual art a little more, at least in terms of the personnel and approach. 

 One of the founding members of the orchestra, saxophonist Raymond MacDonald, says, “Over the past 10 years we’ve got to know Maggie and Evan well and so I am delighted that they can join us to celebrate our 10th anniversary. They are not only world-leading musicians but are also big hearted and generous people who are long time friends of GIO. Alongside all the other guests we are honoured to host, they will ensure the festival is an inspiring, welcoming and accessible three days of enquiring and life-affirming music.” 

I admit it: I gave in to the press release at the end. But it doesn't matter that I don't know enough about the GIO yet: the weekend is full of workshops and chances to chat to the artists. This means I can go along and, by next Monday, be set to write a really informed preview for 2013.
November 29 – December 1 2012 

CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JD 

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