All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

5

Iskra 1903: South on the Northern

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Paul Rutherford's trio Iskra 1903 existed in two different editions, both including Rutherford on trombone and Barry Guy on bass. The first (in existence from 1970 to 1974) added Derek Bailey on guitar, the second (from 1977 to 1995) Philipp Wachsmann on violin. Thanks largely to the efforts of Emanem (with a contribution from Guy's own Maya label), both editions have been well represented on disc, excellent news given the importance of the group in the development of improvised music and the uniformly high quality of their music. However, the second edition has been well-documented at the start and at the end of its eighteen-year existence, but with an eight-year gap from 1983 to 1991. Now, with two previously unreleased live recordings, dating from November 1988 and April 1989, the two-disc South on the Northern begins to plug that gap. All of which makes it a very important and welcome new release. In other areas of the arts, the nearest equivalents would probably be the discovery of a previously unseen Hitchcock movie or Stoppard play...

As the album and track titles indicate, South on the Northern was recorded at gigs in pubs in London—Balham and Clapham Common are both southern suburbs of the city which lie on its underground system's Northern line, while The Bedford and The Sun were the pubs in question. Both gigs were captured on analogue audio cassettes by Wachsmann, but the music on the discs does not betray that fact, with the sound quality throughout being exemplary and revealing every essential detail but no extraneous noise.

Right from the first notes, the music confirms that the gap in the group's discography had nothing to do with a drop in the quality of their music in that period; individually and collectively the three players are all at the same high standard they displayed on Chapter Two (Emanem, 2007), which documented their 1983 UK tour, and Frankfurt 1991 (Emanem, 2001), the title of which speaks for itself. In typical fashion, the sound of Rutherford's trombone constantly commands attention, as he sings songs full of drama, emotion and pathos through it. The gentleness and lightness of his playing makes the music defy gravity and belies the stereotypical reputation of his instrument. Suffice to say that when he and Wachsmann trade phrases it feels as if the trombone and violin were made to be played together—the most natural pairing imaginable. This is most evident in passages where they are at their most restrained and poignant.

Similarly, the three players make the combination of trombone, violin and bass (plus understated electronics) seem entirely logical, and the absence of drums an irrelevance; their music has its own irrefutable logic and pulse, dictated by nothing but the three of them, their interactions and reactions to one another. The quality of their music never wavers, so they maintain an impressively high standard throughout. Altogether, this is two and a half hours of the best improv available. Stunning.

Track Listing: Balham Bedford 1; Balham Bedford 2; Balham Bedford 3; Balham Bedford 4; Clapham Common Sun 1; Clapham Common Sun 2; Clapham Common Sun 3.

Personnel: Paul Rutherford: trombone; Philipp Wachsmann: violin, electronics; Barry Guy: double bass, electronics.

Title: South on the Northern | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Emanem

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Der Dichter Spricht CD/LP/Track Review
Der Dichter Spricht
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Piano Works CD/LP/Track Review
Piano Works
by John Sharpe
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Throw Tomatoes CD/LP/Track Review
Throw Tomatoes
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Reflections 2 CD/LP/Track Review
Reflections 2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read "This City" CD/LP/Track Review This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Heart Knows" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Dedication" CD/LP/Track Review Dedication
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Float The Edge" CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 25, 2017