Gina and I went to see the Peter Brötzman tentet tonight in Stirling. I was wanting to go after speaking to Louis De Carlo the photographer who said he was going and that I had to go. I was kind of lazing around and then went – “we’ve got to go – if we leave now we’ll get the second set!” We went and Gina drove and we made the second set and it was very cool. It is not often you see a free improvising band that big, and certainly not of that calibre in Scotland, and they made a great thrilling big sound. Free music to my ears hasn’t changed a huge amount over the last 20 years but it is a great noise and a great energy. Both Gina and I tho’ thought it wasnt as good as the ARFI gig we saw in Lyon in April with the political poet (whom we couldn’t understand).
(What I realise now are) The elder statesman of Scottish free music were all there – Bill Wells, Raymond MacDonald, and George Burt – who are all very nice people and very interesting musicians. I am proud to say that I recognised Bill’s talent the first time I met him when a lot of people in the the straight ahead jazz scene completely missed what was great about him.
Jazz seems to have that schism – the inside group work with rhythm and melody and that is everything and accuracy and control is very important, whereas the free school aren’t so obsessed with that ( at least in the narrow sense of the word) and work texture, energy, symbolism, pure sound etc. Both scenes are capable of being very conservative and dogmatic – despite their self image. In the Scottish scene I guess Tommy Smith and Bill Wells mark out the two poles of the spectrum – although Bill has developed into a very controlled and elegant piano player and basically defies categorisation.
One side of this schism can tend to scorn the other for failing to cherish what it cherishes. I am interested in both sides and so tend to flit between camps.