28 November 2017


Miro told me it was the sound of magpies that he'd heard just that morning. He'd been jotting down some fairly open musical notation as I came in before the concert, a few lines with melody snippets and chords and some indicative harmonies and colours through associated chords. When the concert started, it was Col on drums in the centre of the space with circular rows of seating around him. He played various percussion for several minutes before tones of trumpet, two tenors and bass clarinet appeared, first sparse but heavily wettened in this very reverberent space at the Drill Hall Gallery. The players were away, behind panels. The moving harmonies interested me. A drone on G then colours of Bb, Eb, F, D, various others, came and went. Over time, the sound moved behind more partitioning and musicians appeared in four corners behind the audience. The slow colour changes had gradually been augmented with flighty, fast runs, Miro's trumpet and John's tenor especially conversing, and the drums had developed into a groove with sticks and mallets. I was interested to note the kit was kick free: snare, tom, hi-hat, cymbals. It all came to a head and dropped back to solo percussion like the start and a final drop of metal plates to finish it all. The whole was improvised but guided over 30-minutes or so: intriguing and involving so the time had passed unnoticed. Structured in some way, but lots of room for freedom. Like the birds it portrayed, I guess. Miro and I talked of the magpies in our gardens. They are characters and this was a fascinating and satisfying recitation.

Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet, composer) gathered John Mackey (tenor), Tom Fell (tenor), Richard Johnson (bass clarinet) and Col Hoorweg (drums, percussion) for a concert at Drill Hall Gallery to mark the exhibition Active seeing by Liz Coats.

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