Monthly Archives: February 2011

Stan Tracey

Review: Stan Tracey Quartet

Seven Arts, Leeds

Thursday 10 February

Originally published on Weds 16th February 2011 at http://www.digyorkshire.com/HighlightDetails.aspx?Article=1129

“It’s not very often that you get a full house at a jazz club”, remarks Steve Crocker, promoter at Seven Jazz and the man responsible for tonight’s event. “We’ve even had twelve returns, but now it’s completely full”.

There again, it’s not very often that a man known as ‘The Godfather of British Jazz’ comes to play. Seven Arts’ compact auditorium is packed to the rafters with folk clamouring to see Stan Tracey, 84 years of age and still going strong.

As resident pianist at Ronnie Scott’s in London during the early 60s, Stan’s career has involved working with some of the most famous names in jazz. His 1965 album Under Milk Wood is considered by discerning folk to be up there with the work of Miles Davis – a very unusual thing indeed for a British musician in a scene dominated by US stars.

Emerging to thunderous applause, Stan leads his band on stage, gives a brief nod to the audience and sits before the grand piano (made, incidentally, in Leeds). “A-one, two, a-one two uh uh” – the drums kick in with a crack, Stan hits the chords, the double bass booms and the sax blasts. I’m too young to have been at Ronnie Scott’s during the golden age of British jazz, but I imagine it sounded something like this.

Stan’s son Clark is a master of the drums, similar to the late Max Roach and equal to his dad in terms of skill, appearing on Stan’s records from the 70s onwards. On tenor sax is Bobby Wellins, collaborator with Stan on Under Milk Wood. He turned 75 earlier this year, but packs more energy into his performance than most musicians half his age, and is, like Stan, a legend. On double bass, Andy Cleyndert does a brilliant job of keeping the whole thing together with amazing dexterity, never once hitting a wrong note.

Among the highlights are ‘Starless and Bible Black’, Stan’s best piece from Under Milk Wood. A haunting, serene piece, Bobby’s sax lines gently float over the piano like a bird in flight. Bobby’s sax skills shine again with ‘McTaggart’, a blues number, drawn from a 1964 album. “I don’t know if I remember that one”, Bobby announces, looking slightly shocked. But he does, and it’s like listening to the record.

As Thelonious Monk’s ‘Bright Mississippi’ receives the Stan treatment, I close my eyes: I can’t tell if it’s Stan or the Monk who’s hitting the keys. I’m not sure if I’ll experience a gig quite like this again.

David Hare

David Hare Season: Via Dolorosa

David Hare

Originally published on Tuesday 8th Feburary 2011 at http://www.digyorkshire.com/HighlightDetails.aspx?Article=1117

Sir David Hare, one of Britain’s finest playwrights, will be appearing in person to read Via Dolorosa, an account of his trip to Israel and Palestine in 1997. The play explores the landscapes, ideologies and emotions of the region, based on his meetings with 33 people he met during his travels.

The Olivier-winning playwright will be appearing in person as part of the David Hare Season at Sheffield Theatres. A major retrospective, the season will include three of his finest plays: Racing Demon, Plenty and The Breath of Life. Each of these plays will be performed at Sheffield Theatres simultaneously, something unusual for a living playwright.

Via Dolorosa, Latin for ‘the way, full of sorrows’, was Hare’s solo acting debut when he first performed it in 1998. He subsequently received the Drama Desk Award for his outstanding performance, and went on to produce the work for television.

Hare’s work often deals with interesting social matters: he first came to prominence with his 1970 breakthrough play, Slag, a study of teachers and radical feminism. His 1978 play Plenty dealt with post-war disillusion, and Racing Demon touched on gay ordination in the 90s Church of England. Via Dolorosa continues in this tradition, exploring both sides of the conflict, and those who seek religious justification for their extremist actions.

You’ll be able to read reviews from all three David Hare Season plays on digyorkshire.com over the next few weeks.

British Wildlife Festival

3rd – 6th March, various venues, Leeds.

Is something wrong with live music? There seems to be a preference of late towards massive bands deploying huge touring operations around expensive venues. The collapse in the recorded music market means, so we are told, that gig tickets will have to be more expensive; the rise in VAT means that your drink will be verging on the precipice of a fiver.

Or maybe not. The British Wildlife Festival, a brilliant, independently-run event that’s now in its fifth year in Leeds, will be treating discerning music fans to an exciting weekend of wonderful new noise from around the world. The whole weekend will cost you £12, and for that you get to watch about 30 bands in a host of reasonably-priced drinking holes.

Among the highlights are the incredible ‘instrumental noisenik’ Three Trapped Tigers: the sound of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher being forced through guitars, drums and keyboards. Japanese chiptune/gabba producer DJ Scotch Egg will also be appearing, as both himself and with his Drum Eyes project (crowdsurfing, strobe-wielding, sonic maniacs).

Calmer moments feature Leeds’ own Serious Sam Barrett, fresh from SXSW 2010 and purveyor of a unique blend of Yorkshirecana. More of the city’s talent will be on show courtesy of electro-punks Beards, math-rockers Vessels and ear-wreckers That F***ing Tank, whose name will ensure that they avoid the Christmas #1 spot for a while.

Mark it in your diaries!

Tickets are on sale now at Jumbo Records, Crash Records and via the web.

Is something wrong with live music? There seems to be a preference of late towards massive

bands deploying huge touring operations around expensive venues. The collapse in the

recorded music market means, so we are told, that gig tickets will have to be more expensive;

the rise in VAT means that your drink will be verging on the precipice of a fiver.
Or maybe not. The British Wildlife Festival, a brilliant, independently-run event that’s now

in its fifth year in Leeds, will be treating discerning music fans to an exciting weekend of

wonderful new noise from around the world. The whole weekend will cost you £12, and for

that you get to watch about 30 bands in a host of reasonably-priced drinking holes.
Among the highlights are the incredible ‘instrumental noisenik’ Three Trapped Tigers: the

sound of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher being forced through guitars, drums and keyboards.

Japanese chiptune/gabba producer DJ Scotch Egg will also be appearing, as both himself

and with his Drum Eyes project (crowdsurfing, strobe-wielding, sonic maniacs).
Calmer moments feature Leeds’ own Serious Sam Barrett, fresh from SXSW 2010 and

purveyor of his unique blend of Yorkshirecana. More of the city’s talent will be on show

courtesy of electro-punks Beards, math-rockers Vessels and ear-wreckers That F***ing Tank,

whose name will ensure that they avoid the Christmas #1 spot for a while.
Mark it in your diaries!
Tickets are on sale now at Jumbo Records, Crash Records and via the web.

The Yorkshire ‘Google Art Project’

Originally published on 3rd February 2011 at http://www.digyorkshire.com/HighlightDetails.aspx?Article=1107

Yorkshire is home to some of the finest oil and acrylic painting collections in the country, with hundreds of galleries and museums housing thousands of works. Now, for the first time, a collection of the region’s favourite paintings are available to view online.

Yorkshire’s Favourite Paintings is managed by 30 museums and galleries from across the region, celebrating the outstanding quality and variety of paintings in the collections across all four counties. The site contains 100 of the most-loved paintings chosen by the public from across the region, dating from the 17th to 21st century.

Among the collection are works from Francis Bacon, Paul Nash and Thomas Gainsborough. Visitors can also leave their own personal stories relating to each painting, and share their experience with others.

There are around 10,000 oil and acrylic paintings in Yorkshire, but estimates suggest that 80% of these are not on public display. Yorkshire’s Favourite Paintings brings many of these works back into the public eye once more.

Liz Waring, Curator of Visual Art at Museums Sheffield, says:

“We are delighted to be part of this project which gives everyone the chance to view in one place a selection of the fantastic collection of oil paintings we have in the region. Anyone in the world can now go online and see the paintings and the stories behind the pictures, with the ability to zoom in and see the incredible detail and techniques used by the artist”.

Visitors to the site can also win the chance to take home an exclusive replica of their favourite painting. Take a peek and enter at www.yorkshiresfavourites.org. Winners will be announced in March.

Pinteresque

Originally published on 2nd February 2011 at http://www.digyorkshire.com/HighlightDetails.aspx?Article=1105

A ‘Pinteresque’ production is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, one ‘typically characterized by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses’.

As the ambience of Harold Pinter’s works can be distilled into such a brief passage, this says a lot about the influence of the man and his work on the world of theatre. He had a career spanning 50 years, working right up to his death in 2008. During his lifetime, he wrote 29 original stage plays, 27 screenplays and many more works for TV, radio and other literature.

In acknowledgement of Pinter’s influence, York Theatre Royal has commissioned five short plays from local writers. Each has been careful to capture the essence of Pinter’s work, yet also allow their own dramatic style to break through.

The plays will be performed alongside some of Pinter’s short works, including Victoria Station, based on the relationship between a minicab driver and controller, Night, a one-act study on marriage, and the fiercely political One for the Road.

Producing the shows is Old Bomb Theatre, a York-based company renowned for provocative, earthy drama. Their previous productions include Simon Stephen’s On The Shore of the Wide World and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, a hugely influential figure on the work of Harold Pinter.

You can follow all the latest developments on York Theatre Royal’s blog.