The visionary musical ideas of Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman and Anthony Braxton meet the spontaneous creativity of the Edinburgh-based Russian artist Maria Rud in one of the architectural gems of Edinburgh’s Old Town when the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra premieres its most ambitious project to date next month.
Where Rivers Meet combines Ayler & Co’s innovations with the arranging talents of pianist-composer Geoffrey Keezer, SNJO director Tommy Smith, saxophonist Paul Towndrow and pianist Paul Harrison and features four outstanding jazz soloists as well as Rud’s vividly expressive images as a live response to the music.
Filmed in the magnificent 12th Century St Giles’ Cathedral, the stained glass great west window of which forms a canvas for Rud’s art, Where Rivers Meet aims to capture the spirit and excitement of jazz’s revolutionary “New Thing” of the 1960s.
“These concerts are all about expression, the deepest emotion of our inner voice,” says saxophonist and SNJO director Tommy Smith. “To reach that space where we summon heart and spirit, the soloists must bare their souls – that was the challenge and the achievement of much of the best of the free jazz of the 1960s and beyond. And that’s what we’re after here.”
Streamed over four nights – from May 12 to 15 – the concerts will begin with the Ornette Coleman suite, featuring alto saxophonist Paul Towndrow as soloist. They continue with Dewey Redman (featuring tenor saxophonost Konrad Wiszniewski) and Anthony Braxton (featuring altoist Martin Kershaw) and will culminate with Albert Ayler (featuring Smith as soloist).
Maria Rud, who has previously collaborated with percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, says Where Rivers Meet is one of the most creatively challenging projects she has worked on. “The depth and the improvisational nature of the music awakens new imagery,” she says. “And to collaborate with Tommy Smith and SNJO in St. Giles’ Cathedral with its interior as a “canvas” is a great creative privilege.”
Where Rivers Meet is available online from 12 – 15 May at 7.30 pm each night.