Corey Mwamba


Fun for all the family

I went down to London on Saturday [17th Mar.] packed up with the dulcimer, the Replacement Girlfriend and the Inherently Old Unreliable Lap-top. I always forget just how heavy the dulcimer is until I come to pick it up: its freakish trapezoid frame dangling by a simple plastic handle that, no matter where you might try to position it in your hand, will injure you. Still, I hadn't far to go; just a short-ish walk and a train change to get to Dalston Kingsland to the Vortex Jazz Club for the second Argentum rehearsal.

The process of hearing something you wrote played back to you is always an interesting one: although I tend to compose almost entirely sonically — I sit in front of the MIDI sequencer and my snyth and record the parts: then I go back and score the parts with Lime — Argentum was graphically scored initially, then written in my interpretation of standard notation, so I hadn't really heard the piece before the rehearsal and had no idea as to how it'd work in the real world. But it all sounded great [as you can hear in the final result], even though I was on glockenspiel.

"Where did the glockenspiel come from?" you ask. It so happened that the rehearsal coincided with another event — enter Orphy Robinson. I'd borrowed his glock for the rehearsal and hung out with his cool family, and caught up as usual. On the Sunday we chipped down to the Millfield Theatre in Edmonton and set up with the others. Then Orphy introduced us to the lovely family audience and we all had fun. The bassist Davide Mantovani had expensive, reliable looping stuff with him and made great soundscapes with lots of West African influences; then Brian Edwards came in with a lyrical tenor saxophone melody; Rowland Sutherland then created a heavy rhythmic groove with looped bass and concert flutes; and my Inherently Old Unreliable crashed on me and generated static as I played the dulcimer. But Orphy's vibes worked so I was okay. Although apparently I did some high-quality jazz-gurning. I then led a mini-vibes workshop with all the kids, which was mad! There are photos...

But the thing I'd really like to point out though was that the audience was entirely mixed in every way; the gig was on at a time that families could turn up and relax. The music didn't have to be "dumbed down" or made easy for the kids; we played what we played and it was appreciated. To me this shows that there is an audience for improvised music but perhaps we need to go halfway as artists and push it out there more. Orphy's Sunday Supplement has shown it can really work, and it was a great gig to do.

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