Album: Bill Wells

Pick Up Sticks, Leaf
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The Independent Culture

The avant-garde jazz and improvised music scene is flourishing in Scotland, to judge by two new albums out this week. Munich and Glasgow by The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra with Evan Parker (snappy handle, yes?) is a tour de force of sensitive playing from the 25-strong ensemble, exemplifying the give-and-take required to make improvised music work, and alive with the intimate ebb-and-flow that marks the best examples of the form. (Interested parties should contact FMR Records at www.fmr-records.com). Then there's Pick Up Sticks, the latest release from "Stirling's answer to Sun Ra", Bill Wells, a man equally well known as helmsman of his own jazz-based Trio and Octet, and as arranger-in-chief to the Scottish indie-rock scene that encompasses Belle & Sebastian, Arab Strap and others. On this 20-minute mini-album, Wells eschews his usual piano for sampler and computer for a series of pieces devised and recorded with the jazz trombonist Annie Whitehead and the synthesist Stefan Schnei

The avant-garde jazz and improvised music scene is flourishing in Scotland, to judge by two new albums out this week. Munich and Glasgow by The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra with Evan Parker (snappy handle, yes?) is a tour de force of sensitive playing from the 25-strong ensemble, exemplifying the give-and-take required to make improvised music work, and alive with the intimate ebb-and-flow that marks the best examples of the form. (Interested parties should contact FMR Records at www.fmr-records.com). Then there's Pick Up Sticks, the latest release from "Stirling's answer to Sun Ra", Bill Wells, a man equally well known as helmsman of his own jazz-based Trio and Octet, and as arranger-in-chief to the Scottish indie-rock scene that encompasses Belle & Sebastian, Arab Strap and others. On this 20-minute mini-album, Wells eschews his usual piano for sampler and computer for a series of pieces devised and recorded with the jazz trombonist Annie Whitehead and the synthesist Stefan Schneider. The eight tracks are all short and the tone throughout is warm, and oddly poignant in places, with Whitehead's trombone the star element, alternately furtive, lowing and glimmering, always lurking, ready to pounce upon the sample-beds, drones and stalking basslines.

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