Tolbooth, Stirling, Fri 23–Sun 25 May
With Triptych now but a memory, the eclecticism of Le Weekend is brought into even sharper focus as an important vehicle for music that eludes the attention of more conventional mainstream events. This year’s programme offers an intriguing selection of star names like percussion maestro Hamid Drake, guitarist Elliott Sharp and the perennial Evan Parker, but featured in new combinations.
A very rare UK appearance from singer Annette Peacock counts as a major final night coup, and the opening night combination of The Pastels and Victoria Bergsman’s new band, Taken By Trees, will attract a different audience. As Alasdair Campbell, director of both Le Weekend and The Tolbooth, explains, that is very much part of their ethos.
‘Le Weekend has always had a jazz element at its heart, however experimental, although I don’t even really like using that word to be honest. Many of the artists have some kind of jazz connection, but pop has always been in there as well, and I definitely feel it has a legitimate place in the festival. It also attracts a younger audience, which is vital.’
Commissioning new work is also important. Composer David Fennessy’s ‘Big Lung’ will utilise the organ at the nearby Church of the Holy Rude, where Evan Parker’s quartet will also play. Back at the Tolbooth that night, Hamid Drake, who has appeared here previously with Peter Brotzmann and William Parker, will hook up with French guitarist Raymond Boni, while New York guitarist Elliott Sharp performs in a guitars and electronics duo with Frank Vigroux. The final night features Annette Peacock’s solo performance and a quartet led by German saxophonist Alfred 23 Harth, while more locally-based talent appearing includes saxophonist Raymond MacDonald working with Miguel Carvalhais (electronics), and Bill Wells’ National Jazz Trio of Scotland, here expanded to a quartet.
‘The joy for me is to take a risk, experiment and be allowed to fail now and again as well,’ Campbell says. ‘We have a combination of established and new artists and that is a key thing we try to do in the festival.’
Le Weekend, Stirling, Fri 23–Sun 25 May, view listings.