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Colin Steele's Stramash

Colin Steele's Stramash

We saw this on Friday past at The Lot in Edinburgh, part of their Jazz Festival. The Lot is right next to the castle, and hence the Military Tattoo can sometimes intrude on the jazz concerts at this time of year, with guns and fireworks, as it did at the often very quiet and subtle Tommy Smith, Arild Anderson & Alyn Cosker gig last year. But Colin Steele's gig was loud and boisterous enough that I didn't notice the tattoo this time.

This was a half-way house between folk and jazz, with pipes, three fiddles and a cello in addition to trumpet, saxophone, drums, piano and string bass. I'd say it was slightly more on the folk side, but not by too far.

Phil Bancroft was an imposing Hagrid-esque figure in a pin-stripe kilt, and the drummer, whom I don't recall them name of, looked somewhat like a cowboy, with the boots and hat! He was a very good drummer - we were sitting practically behind him, being in the last-minute edge-of-stage seats, and it's a perspective one doesn't normally get! His playing was very good - he placed his notes (I suppose they're not really notes if it's drums?) very carefully and always complimentarily to the music.

Colin Steele himself has a nice tone, quite soft (and by soft I don't necessarily mean quiet). His posture is interesting though - particularly noticeable side on. He's one of those players who ends up shaped like a backwards letter C when playing! It can't be good for the body - I wonder if he'll have problems later in life as a result? I can't help thinking it would be easier to play with a straighter, less tense posture, especially with regards to lung capacity and airflow. In any case, he's good - I particularly liked when he played with the harmon mute and pushed the mic right into the end of the mute - it made a very interesting sound, particularly on the low notes.

Being a bit tired, it being Friday night and in Edinburgh, I maybe wasn't able to appreciate it as much as I perhaps would otherwise. I wasn't overly taken with the first half - it was good, I just wasn't feeling enthusiastic. But the second half was a bit livelier, and I enjoyed it more. It was a good fun gig, and the audience were loving it - it was sold out. If only all Jazz Festival gigs were as popular as the Edinburgh ones!


Aug. 13th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
It sounds like the drummer was Stu Ritchie - he always seems wear a hat at gigs!

I like Stramash a lot.

Though I think there is something about Scottish jazz-folk - did you ever see John Rae's Celtic Feet? They did one brilliant gig at Queen's Hall with the massed pipe band... Magic!
Aug. 13th, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)
I think you're right - it probably was him, now that you mention the name.

I haven't seen John Rae's Celtic Feet. I do generally quite like Scottish music mashed up with jazz though. Or stuff that seems a bit more folky.


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