Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

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Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

Large-ensemble improvisation can sometimes be a tentative affair, fidgety rather than full-blooded, but GIO’s performance, the first in the Soundlab series of experimental music concerts, was a fitting tribute to the ‘joyful and life-enhancing sound’ of the great British jazz trumpeter Harry Beckett, who died in July. With puckish glee, George Burt handed the audience copies of the score to his ‘Improvcerto One for Harry Beckett’: a post-it note containing simple diagrams directing the performance.

The notion of allowing members of the orchestra to step forward and conduct, as represented by a baton-wielding stick figure, was inspired, with cellist Peter Nicholson directing staccato bursts of noise with a Miles Davis style karate chop, and saxophonist Raymond MacDonald taking things right down so as to highlight the subtle fizz and throb of Zhang Lin’s electronics against delicate violin and flute. In a nod to Beckett’s Caribbean background, drummer Stuart Brown introduced carnival rhythms to his solo, while his hearty Buddy Rich style tub-thumping directed the orchestra towards a squalling climax that combined their jazz, classical and experimental elements into an energetic whole.

City Halls Recital Room, Glasgow, Wed 8 Sep.

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