A Slave to the Rhythm – Part 10

Part 10: Under the Influence?

The tenth in an occasional series from Rick about his life as a musician – where it all started and what it has come to now.

Making lists of preferred drummers inevitably seems like name-dropping to an extent but it gives me some rationalisation about what gets through to me and what REALLY gets through to me.

Some players who have made the difference and why…….

Ginger Baker (in Cream) and Mitch Mitchell (with Jimi Hendrix) have been referred to in a previous blog as very early inspirations so I’ll skip past them here.

 

Amongst classifiable genres, there are many players of funk, reggae, rock, jazz, free improvisation, African and Latin music and beyond that have touched me at different times, but, if I had to name my special seven, they would be, in no particular order…..

Tony Williams – a once in a lifetime talent. Always exciting, always innovative, never obvious, fast hands – a powerhouse.

Elvin Jones – highly polyrhythmic, sometimes hard to fathom, intense and driving – supercharged.

Jack DeJohnette – an ingenious ability to circumnavigate and imply a rhythm and swing it simultaneously.

Mike Clark – Pioneered a way of shifting rhythmic emphasis – rhythmic displacement – whilst keeping totally in the pocket.

Christian Vander – Apart from his visionary concepts and singular compositional sense, he can always up the ante but, equally, can use very slight touches to similar dramatic effect. Dynamically, second to none. He can find corners of rhythm like no other. Plays each beat like it might be his last – ecstatic. Has kept his band Magma creatively on task for over 50 years.

Han Bennink – Original, supremely innovative, inspired, unpredictable, highly entertaining. Arguably, he has done more than any other to inspire free playing. Funky as hell playing a matchbox or sitting on the stage playing his shoes. When required, he can swing with the best of them.

Mattanur Shankaran Marar – a master of the south Indian chenda drum.

Can turn any rhythm upside down and inside out. Has untold reserves of creativity and power but can gently purr like no other. My teacher – a man of huge stature but great humility.

 

Amongst the many players who come from a rock background, five stand out for me who were active before and during my formative years.

Robert Wyatt – was, perhaps, the first drummer I saw who confounded conventional ways of playing a kit. Whilst never the greatest technician, he taught me that any part of the kit could be a starting point and that a singular vision was, at least, as important as technique.

John Bonham – a powerhouse drummer. Within the confines of a fairly straight ahead rock composition, he usually created deceptively simple/complex syncopations with nothing wasted. Very clear, almost architectural player.

Levon Helm – showed me that less is more. He never played anything that wasn’t essential. Always served the song in full. He could sing a bit too !

Bill Bruford – had a wonderful and immediately recognisable snare drum sound. Always distinctive, he could navigate complex music with a great balance and light and shade. Sometimes used to feature  rickety bits of percussion but really made them swing.

Ritchie Hayward – blended rock and funk with a subtle touch when necessary and with a full-blooded roar at other times. Never an obvious player, he was always bubbling just below the line.

And to the many that ought to be mentioned………….that will have to be another list.

coloured abstract disc pattern with album title As I live and breathe

As I live and breathe

 

Rick’s latest album is out now, with an official release date of June 5.

The album is called ‘As I Live and Breathe’ and is a collection of 13 original songs. Rick sings and plays most of the material but he is also indebted to Roxane Smith, Barry Edwards, Niall Ross and Gary Foote, who all made valuable contributions.

File:076. Palais idéal du facteur Cheval, Hauterives.JPG

Cheval’s Palais Ideal

Within this collection, the ideas that are given voices are ones that periodically return to face me – the replenishment of wonder provided by the wider world, and the inspirations, mysteries and transformations that occur. Couple these with the chasing of shadows and illusions and the tricks played by our senses, with the possibilities of inner resourcefulness and the vitality of the present moment. Mix all this with some timeless weighing of reason against emotion and most of the ingredients are then laid out.

Rick’s work is often influenced by the written word and at other times by remarkable people. On this album, the second track (Le facteur Cheval) is inspired by a French postman who stumbled one day on a strangely shaped stone and went on to build a fantastical palace. You can read more about his extraordinary story here.

 

 

 

coloured abstract disc pattern with album title As I live and breathe

The album is in two forms. First, as a limited edition CD (£10) or as a download (£1 per track, £8.50 for the whole album) from

rickwilson.bandcamp.com

where you can take a listen first.

You can also order a copy of the physical CD by sending us a message via the ‘Contact us’ page, or coming along to

one of Rick’s regular monthly drum circle events at the Hermon Chapel Arts Centre in Oswestry.

 

 

Image credit: Otourly, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

A Slave to the Rhythm – Part 9

Part 9: The Question of Sampling

 

Construction Site Background stock photoTorrential rain falling in London, UK  storm stock pictures, royalty-free photos & imagesPeople crowd turkey  crowd stock pictures, royalty-free photos & imagesYellow Warbler stock photo

The ninth in an occasional series from Rick about his life as a musician – where it all started and what it has come to now

In previous pages I was remembering how I used to take a cassette recorder around with me to record anything of interest. This could include machinery sounds from a factory or building site, snatches of conversation or sounds of the natural world. Cassettes would accrue and my audio library expanded accordingly. Before the invention and manufacture of the Sampler in the 1980s, a few people I knew were already using ‘found’ sounds in their own music. This could include snatches of other people’s music. Once the Sampler was on the market and out there, this trend became commercially rampant in the ensuing years and the inevitable cries of ‘rip off’ could be heard widespread. There were a few high profile court cases involving the richer, or more visible, musicians and record companies. Settlements were arrived at through the legal process. Lower down, more tacit agreements were achieved. Lower down still, you just took your chances.

Some artists are outraged by such ‘referencing’ but some are flattered. Some had their careers re-ignited by someone else’s use of their music. It remains a lively debate. Personally, I try to always avoid the obvious. Though I have never owned a Sampler, I have used extracts of other people’s music over the years. I never use it verbatim or wholesale. I always put it through some creative process of transformation to sculpt it to suit my purposes. It often becomes unrecognisable from its source. It is this process of transformation which, for me, justifies such action.

If I were ever to be sampled by someone else, I hope that I would welcome it as an affirmation of a good idea. I can never imagine that there would ever be any question of financial remuneration.

When Mountains Meet

When Mountains Meet/Jub Milain Pahaar is a music theatre and visual art project that connects Scotland and Pakistan both culturally and geologically. It is inspired by the first hand true story of musician Anne Wood, whose mother is Scottish and her father Pakistani.  

Anne, an old friend of Helen and Rick’s, has drawn together a multi cultural team of performers and artists.  Throughout the pandemic they met over Zoom and, when they could, in person to share music, stories, food, visual arts and responses to landscape.

Rick is part of the musical side of the team which is weaving these threads into a story.  They held some development events last year and hope to create a touring production within the next two years. The planned production will include live acting / storytelling and digital imagery as well as live music.

Scourie landscape, Highlands – with thanks to https://www.scourie.co.uk/

Rick’s early contributions involved an intensive creative week with the whole team in the Highlands of Scotland. Click here to see him playing customised fishing buoys with fellow musician John McGeoch. 

Although ‘When Mountains Meet’ is not yet ready for performance, Rick is working on three or four pieces for an EP that will show some of the different musical directions at work in the piece.

For more information about the whole project, blogs about the stages so far, images and more extracts of music, follow the link to the project website:  www.whenmountainsmeet.com  

​​جب ملیں پہاڑ

A Slave to the Rhythm – Part 8

The eighth in an occasional series from Rick about his life as a musician – where it all started and what it has come to now  Who needs the biz ? When I was rather floundering around during my semi-pro years, I had very little real picture of what it would actually take to make […]