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Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra: Schweben – Ay, But Can Ye (Maya)

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

Schweben – Ay, But Can Ye


The words of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (translated and spoken by the late Scots Makar Edwin Morgan), the paintings of Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky and English bassist-composer Barry Guy's long experience of working with improvising units of various sizes coalesce in this release marking Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra's 10th anniversary. Guy took the translation of Kandinsky's work Schweben – to float – as his inspiration as composer and director of a near 50-minute piece in which the spontaneously realised music does indeed float through various moods and sequences from the ambient and lightly impressionistic to bordering on the nightmarish. New listeners to improvised music may find this forbidding, but while the overall effect here is rather bitty and only fleetingly attractive as the musicians respond to the visual images, there's a certain power in passages such as Gerry Rossi's stabbing piano storm and the stretching of Morgan's words into both a siren song and a challenge as the ensemble floats towards the final silence.

Rob Adams

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