REVIEW: Roger Turner at White Cube

Roger Turner at White Cube
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Roger Turner
(White Cube gallery, Bermondsey, 28 March 2015; part of Christian Marclay’s exhibition programme. Review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

Roger Turner is one of the most experienced and resourceful jazz improvising drummers around. His field of play in White Cube’s pristine, high-ceilinged gallery space had a fittingly sculptural aspect to it. A narrow, angled copper sheet, mounted on a cymbal stand, stood alongside a large, circular hand drum with a metal rim and weathered clash cymbals with domed centres and leather clasps. A centrally sited tom, hi-hat and drum seat, led on to a raft of miscellaneous scraps of sheeting and a taped-up cardboard box. A small, painted glockenspiel sat on the floor beside a row of tuned, flat metal bars.

To tie in with the theme of pub drinking glasses set by Christian Marclay, the artist/curator of the music series, within his exhibition, a tray of beer glasses with short metal rods bunched in them was placed the floor to the left, and there was a loose grouping of glasses far right. An array of mics on slim, black metallic stands added random, structural form.

Roger Turner at White Cube
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

With the audience arced around the performance area, Turner single-handedly delivered an intuitively disciplined percussion set with a minor symphonic dimension. Combining a gently anarchic spirit with a textural range that pushed towards the expressive edge, each of the episodic passages of Turner’s performance rode on the heartbeat precision of the drummer’s embedded, internal clock.

Not a beat was missed, whether Turner was dragging a drumstick across a metal grille, stooped over the sheeting, whisking fragments of light, metallic-coated wrapping at they floated earthwards, or drawing a fine metallic beater across a curved, copper form placed on the tom. Glasses tumbled, tinkled and rolled, metal slabs chimed, the box echoed with a whapping great thump. Polystyrene confetti rained down, ping-pong balls bounced, and plastic tubing was dropped on to the floor. Destructive tendencies met creative force.

Yet, in the face of all these minor events the underlying pulse was maintained, even when evading detection in both restrained and violent passages. A touch of Chico Hamilton – who always embraced the creative potential of the drumkit – as Turner’s drumsticks were balanced and rolled on the tom, and the jazz player’s elegant discipline overrode the tendency to chaos. A glance at the stopwatch; forty minutes and it was over. Perfect timing.


Categories: miscellaneous

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