Monday 8 December 2014

Calum Gourlay - One Bass, Two Rivers

Calum Gourlay - Double Bass
You cannot help but feel instantly nostalgic for a moment like this, even though it has only just departed. A catalyst that converts potential into the tangible, and the narrative of our lives into another dog-eared page to turn back to. Which makes it all sound so grand, yet in reality it was so simple.

Alex Bonney
The catalyst in question is Calum Gourlay, who recorded an album of solo bass for new record label, Two Rivers Records, which will be officially be born in 2015. He recorded his album live in front of a rapt audience at a residential property in Golders Green (03/12/2014). The room was packed out with friends from London's creative jazz scene and from those of us who couldn't resist a reviving shot to our creative juices.

The room had the warmest of glows, deep filled sofas matched the mince pies with equal invitation. It was impossible not to play a game of who's who with the amassed audience. In the corner sat Alex Bonney who's job was to record this solo voyage. It will be fascinating task to see if he can replicate the warmth of atmosphere in the room. It was so quiet and still that I could hear every breath that my sofa neighbour exhaled.

The sense of the unexpected made the first tune a tense affair, everyone was scared to make a sound. Alone on bass Calum Gourlay dipped into the recording like as a rower hitting a comfortable stroke. The stealthy joy of Ornette Coleman's Ramblin' made you think he was afloat in a bathtub rather than a life raft. The second tune, Chairman Mao, had a pulsing rub to it like Gourlay was occupied with a tasty stick of chewing gum. Eventually he spat it out and once squashed under foot it resembled in colour and shape one of those principalities you find in school geography atlases.

Gourlay Snr
Although alone and with just double bass in hand there was still plenty of musical faces to pull from Calum Gourlay. Rhythm a ning was dexterous, chipper and even comical in his hands. An animated story in musical form. Monk's Mood cast Gourlay's sunlight through a window. Angular shapes played out on staircases, they softened and danced slowly across the tune as he brought us from morning into sleepy afternoons. I looked across and sketched Calum's Gorlay's dad as he rested his eyes, you couldn't help but think was a lullaby for a father.

The second half of the recording was equally evocative. Excuse my lack of titles, the eyes were on sketchbook page and the mind had dialled to dream. The sixth tune moulded modernity and the old-fashioned by use of the bow on strings. Calum Gourlay gave the tune such depth it sounded like two instruments were playing. Exotic radiowaves played as though they erupted from Francis Bacon's rumbling tummy, a kind of beautiful indigestion. The seventh tune was folky with sweet narratives that talked of youthful adventures and smoky stories. The first wave of nostalgia crept upon us with the memories of Polaroids and miniature test strips.

Dark warmth of
Calum Gourlay
There was a second set with a recording of a few bonus tracks in the spirit of Charlie Haden's Closeness album, with Gourlay performing three distinct and beautiful duets. The album launch will be at the Vortex in London on Wednesday 4th March 2015. It is a quick turn around for Alex Bonney and Two Rivers Records and the rest of 2015 looks equally intense. Two albums by Alya Marquardt are followed by the talented trio of Tobias Delius, Olie Brice and Mark Sanders. There are more signings already confirmed on the label with two EPs of solo piano compositions from Clemens Pötzsch and one from saxophonist Robert Menzel quartet in spring 2015.


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