Evan Parker Among Hull City Hall Ambassadors Of Basil Kirchin's Exotic Muse

 Mind-on-the-Run- Saturday.-Pictured -Evan-Parker JPM17-H17-9146 c-James-Mulkeen.jpg

Many of those with their digits usually found firmly on exotic pulses weren't so familiar with the achievements of Basil Kirchin, prior to the announcement of this extensive Mind On The Run tribute weekender. Even some of its participating musicians confessed ignorance, until being invited by Hull's UK City Of Culture organisers. Perhaps this ultra-low profile was due to Kirchin's passing relationship to multiple musical forms, including jazz, electroacoustic, free improvisation, movie soundtracking and easy listening (though often faintly sinister and surreptitiously experimental) library music. Kirchin was fully fluent in all of these languages.

Although born in Blackpool, Kirchin grew up in Hull, returning to that city periodically, and finally settling there during the last years of his life, until his demise in 2005. At age 13 Kirchin played drums in his father Ivor's big band, soon moving on to play with Ted Heath and Harry Roy. A couple of decades later, Kirchin was employing the talents of Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, developing his powers as a composer. It's rare to observe Parker and Alan Barnes chatting together in a hotel bar, but here they were, during this weekend, swapping notes about their time playing for Kirchin.

Mind-on-the-Run- Saturday JPM17-H17-9221 c-James-Mulkeen.jpg

Parker occupied a prime Saturday night position, reviving a partnership with the Spring Heel Jack duo, augmented by Matt Wright and bassist Adam Linson. All except Parker were cloaked with electronic effects, their individual sonic output often hard to untangle. Parker was originally approached by Kirchin to help sculpt film scores, so it's appropriate that this quintet's extended improvisation amassed a sense of pictorial development, nodding to the original Hullster's love of environmental birdcall capturings. Back in the day, Kirchin had challenged Alan Barnes to discern the individual contributions of Parker and a whooping swan. He failed! Parker rippled his soprano saxophone through the wash of intensified turntable surface scurf, as Linson bowed his bass, its sound finally being recognisable as such, through his veil of electronic transformation. Parker receded for a spell, then returned, leading the structural way, as heavy bells tolled through the Hull fog, his chirruping repeats welcoming a lighter patch. This was a lesson in finely-crafted restraint and long-distance atmospheric pooling.

Late on the Friday night, a screening of The Abominable Dr. Phibes (a 1971 British horror flick) was accompanied by Alexander Hawkins on the mighty pipe organ of Hull City Hall. A kitsch classic, this Vincent Price vehicle also possesses a genuinely unsettling sense of terror, as Phibes triumphs over all in his drive to discover ever more imaginative murder methods. The presence of Hawkins didn't rule out an airing of Kirchin's original ensemble score, as the organist was used sparingly, only during the parts of the film where Phibes is actually sitting at his own instrument. This was a canny strategy, as Hawkins suddenly and sporadically became visible, lit up in a crimson glow, behind and below the frontal screen, draped in his silken cape. Like the movie, this was at once dramatic and amusing in its spectacular thrust.

Since 2003, the raising of the Kirchin presence can almost single-handedly be attributed to the informed efforts of Jonny Trunk and his Trunk Records empire, as he's gradually worked through a self-admittedly meandering album reissue schedule. Here was Jonny, right down on the front table at the early Sunday afternoon Jerry Dammers DJ session, calling out facts and exchanging anecdotes with the vinyl-spinning Spatial Special. This two-hour set was an excellent display of mood-altering library music exotica, with Dammers rambling verbally between each selection, a mixture of erudite historian and absurdist comedian.

Sunday afternoon's Musical Modernism concert brought this bountiful weekend to a close, with Will Gregory (half of Goldfrapp) leading the BBC Concert Orchestra through a maze of Kirchin and Kirchin-inspired works. A virtual jazz big band swelled the usual ranks, with Parker, Barnes, Raymond MacDonald, Eddie Parker, Dudley Phillips, Ralph Salmins and Martin France.

Mind-on-the-Run- Sunday.-Pictured -Matthew-Bourne Photo-19-02-2017 -16-06-26 c-Tom-Arran.jpg

Matthew Bourne opened up with a solo performance, sitting cross-legged at his synthesiser, forming a multi-tiered drone foundation for the triggering of snatched Kirchin dialogue. A deep bass pulse grew, eventually turning higher and higher in pitch, making a strange alternative to the hall's own organ. Bourne talked about the autistic kids that Kirchin's wife Esther had taught, bending his own pitches in sympathy with the sounds of those children, as recorded and utilised by Basil. Bourne added Moog oscillations to the recipe during his second piece, freed up to fly over them on his keyboard.

Matthew Herbert's 'Primitive 5 Remix' sampled rustling-of-plastic-bag, tooth-brushing, torn newspaper, cello, and then further orchestra instruments, built up on the spot, as the composer arranged these sonics from the back of the hall, a plexiglass water tank at side-stage, with a brick-weighted plunger taking a platform down to its depths. Herbert was inspired by the possibly apocryphal tale of Kirchin's early tapes being lost at harbour. Despite this weight of construction, the actual piece was pleasingly impressionistic rather than strikingly bold.

Barnes was back, remembering his duet with the voice of Adolf Hitler, prompted by Kirchin as an alternative to the whooping swans. "He would have loved this," says Barnes, of the weekend's celebration (Kirchin, not Hitler). The next Basil barrage married the feels of Colin McPhee and Arthur Lyman, moving into fragments of Philip Glass and Ealing comedy pastoral scenes. A particular highlight of the programme was 'Abstractions Of Holderness', a pictorial documentary set to music by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs (of St. Etienne). Kirchin dwelled in this remote zone during the 1970s, the Holderness images strolling by, mixing zoom-grain with further-away scenes, always perfectly framed, toned and textured in lovingly miserable monochrome. Jim O'Rourke's '12 Dollars Is A Lot' featured MacDonald's spiral soprano, then Parker spoke of Kirchin calling himself, Bailey, Kenny Wheeler and Dave Holland his "paranoia boys". Kirchin's 'L'esprit d'Amour' closed the set, spotlighting Barnes in a loungey latin trotter. On a riser up at the back of the stage stood an empty drumkit, reserved for the doubtless smiling spirit of Kirchin himself.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by Tom Arran

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Jazz Weekend

Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Ja…

The UK equivalent to the Brussels Jazz Weekend would be...

Read More.....
Orphy Robinson gets Gibraltar rocking beyond Borders

Orphy Robinson gets Gibraltar rocking be…

British vibes virtuoso Orphy Robinson is artist-in-residence at the year's...

Read More.....
Vijay Iyer Sextet and Julian Lage jive to Jazz Cafe

Vijay Iyer Sextet and Julian Lage jive t…

Having reopened its doors in January 2016, following a multi-million-pound...

Read More.....
Jon Hiseman 1944-2018

Jon Hiseman 1944-2018

One of the UK's foremost drummers and bandleaders, Jon Hiseman...

Read More.....
Airto Moreira's Afro-Samba Anthems Raise Roof At Ronnie's

Airto Moreira's Afro-Samba Anthems Raise…

  No greater sign of changing times comes than in this...

Read More.....
Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Binker & Moses head to Harrogate

Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Binker & M…

The Harrogate International Festival, which has been running for over...

Read More.....
Voting Now Open for 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Voting Now Open for 2018 Parliamentary J…

Voting is now open for the 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards...

Read More.....
Lost John Coltrane Quartet Album surfaces on Impulse!

Lost John Coltrane Quartet Album surface…

A previously unreleased session by the classic John Coltrane Quartet...

Read More.....
Etienne Charles Triumphant At The Tabernacle With Timely Blend Of Defiance And Celebration

Etienne Charles Triumphant At The Tabern…

  This venue has deep historical resonance for black music in...

Read More.....
Jean Toussaint All-Star 6Tet Shine Bright At Ronnie Scott's

Jean Toussaint All-Star 6Tet Shine Brigh…

  'All-star' is a term mostly out of fashion these days...

Read More.....
Horn Doyenne Holsen Hones Minimalist Drones For Hubro Album Launch

Horn Doyenne Holsen Hones Minimalist Dro…

The Norwegian brass-band tradition, which first evolved in that country...

Read More.....
Vandermark and Nilssen-Love Blow Down Brighton's Green Door

Vandermark and Nilssen-Love Blow Down Br…

  The streets of Brighton have been overflowing with music fans...

Read More.....
Tully Takes The Prize To Ronnie's

Tully Takes The Prize To Ronnie's

  What better way to celebrate the conferring of an honour...

Read More.....
Rebirth Of The Cool: Shabaka Hutchings, Thundercat and Nubya Garcia lead a jazz takeover at Field Day

Rebirth Of The Cool: Shabaka Hutchings, …

  After years of going to jazz gigs and being the...

Read More.....
Anthony Braxton's ZIM Sextet go exploring at Cafe OTO

Anthony Braxton's ZIM Sextet go explorin…

  With the death of Cecil Taylor a few weeks ago...

Read More.....
New British Jazz Generation Blasts Bath With Spiritual Baptism

New British Jazz Generation Blasts Bath …

Bath Festival applied radical surgery to their roster of festivals in...

Read More.....
PYJAEN Prosper At Peckham's Ghost Notes

PYJAEN Prosper At Peckham's Ghost Notes

Catching bands at the beginning of their journeys is so often...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet, Ashley Henry and Yussef Dayes groove at the Great Escape

Sons of Kemet, Ashley Henry and Yussef D…

Since its beginnings in 2006, Brighton's festival of new music...

Read More.....
Zara McFarlane and Jazzmeia Horn among highlights at St Lucia Jazz Fest

Zara McFarlane and Jazzmeia Horn among h…

In recent times this event has had a tenuous relationship...

Read More.....
Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcock In Arboreal Praise For Powys As Birdsongs Take Flight At Hampstead Arts Fest

Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcoc…

Released last month on Basho Records, Birdsong/Cân yr Adar fuses...

Read More.....
Claire Martin, The Printmakers and Jamie Cullum line-up for 606 Club 30 years at Lots Road Festival

Claire Martin, The Printmakers and Jamie…

Chelsea's salubrious jazz den, the 606 Club, is to mark...

Read More.....
Collective X line-up for Love & Protest at Stratford Circus

Collective X line-up for Love & Prot…

Genre-defying London-based group Collective X, led by singer Alya Al...

Read More.....
Love Supreme summit at London's Roundhouse

Love Supreme summit at London's Roundhou…

A blazing afternoon sun, beer-drinking crowds, and smooth electronic beats...

Read More.....
The Lage Lund Trio, Julia Hülsmann and Christopher Dell inspire at Jazzfest Bonn

The Lage Lund Trio, Julia Hülsmann and C…

During its unlikely spell as the post-war capital of West...

Read More.....
Stanley Clarke, Dave Douglas and Avishai Cohen heat up EFG London Jazz Festival

Stanley Clarke, Dave Douglas and Avishai…

The line-up for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Breakin' Convention raise roof with jazz-indebted dance riot at Sadler's Wells

Breakin' Convention raise roof with jazz…

  Founded in 2004 by 'choreopoet' Jonzi D and still curated...

Read More.....
Bärtsch's Mobile Go Minimal Amid Homegrown Diamonds At Estonian Summit

Bärtsch's Mobile Go Minimal Amid Homegro…

  Every music festival has its logistical problems – from gremlins...

Read More.....
Courtney, Kamasi, Frisell and Sheppard thrill the flock as VEIN hits rich seam at Cheltenham

Courtney, Kamasi, Frisell and Sheppard t…

It's a small town, Cheltenham, and the jazz festival is...

Read More.....
WorldService Project's propulsive politics mix punk and Python for satirical japes at Jazz In The Round

WorldService Project's propulsive politi…

"Five disillusioned anti-Brexit punk soldiers...", is how Dave Morecroft, commander-in-chief...

Read More.....
EST Symphony and Akinmusire energise and engage at Espoo's April Jazz

EST Symphony and Akinmusire energise and…

It's 10 years since Esbjörn Svensson's death on 14 June...

Read More.....
Ray Blue Rings True With Pan-Atlantic Quartet At Pizza

Ray Blue Rings True With Pan-Atlantic Qu…

  What better way to celebrate International Jazz Day than with...

Read More.....
Tom Ibarra, Stoney Lane Records store and Family shows complete Cheltenham Jazz Fest line-up

Tom Ibarra, Stoney Lane Records store an…

The doors are almost open for this year's edition of...

Read More.....
Esperanza and Nubya energises while Dame Cleo mesmerises at Jazz FM Awards

Esperanza and Nubya energises while Dame…

  Last year's Jazz FM awards was a memorable occasion, with...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny, Ezra Collective, Esperanza and Nubya Garcia among winners at fifth Jazz FM Awards

Pat Metheny, Ezra Collective, Esperanza …

The winners of this year's Jazz FM Awards were announced...

Read More.....
OFFBEAT Jazz and Cinema Fest goes French

OFFBEAT Jazz and Cinema Fest goes French

A new weekend-long jazz on film event, the OFFBEAT Jazz...

Read More.....
Avishai Cohen Quartet deliver testaments to truth and beauty at Ronnie's

Avishai Cohen Quartet deliver testaments…

The first of two sold-out gigs by the Avishai Cohen...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

RT @staceyalanjazz: Here’s to Life! #1 on Amazon, Top 10 Billboard, Top 10 iTunes Jazz! We’re donating all proceeds from our single “Here's…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Jazz Weekend https://t.co/Mozckxd28r https://t.co/PuMR2ygW0N
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA