Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Gig-a-Blog™ (LD Frazier, St Anne & St Agnes)

Monday, 22 October 2007

LD Frazier. "I've been in the storm too long" - A narrative of black religious music in America from spirituals to the present day; poetry by Langston Hughes.

This was wonderful. LD Frazier is a terrific performer with a really imposing presence and demeanour. I just loved him from the word Go.

I had a tiny moment of disorientation when I read in his biography that he's from Cleveland. Just for a nanosecond I caught myself thinking, "oh, but I thought he was American" before I got back up to speed. Funny really - this cannot be common, even though the biography omitted, unusually, the state, which would've nailed it, even for me.

LD Frazier started very simply, just humming: he's got a very resonant kind of sound so it was more of a superhum, perhaps even a megahum. Whatever - it's very arresting, filling the church with sound. After quite a few choruses like this he moved into actually singing and went through Sometimes I feel like a motherless child and Wade in the water. Forgive me, by the way, if I didn't get many titles or even get them right: we were a small audience and he communicates quite directly and I feared it would have seemed rude to be sitting there writing. (Maybe I should wear a hat with a press pass on it? Hmm.)

The next song was I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright, in which we got the opportunity, or rather the instruction, to join in. I'm often a bit wary of audience participation at gigs but frankly LD doesn't seem all that likely to take no for an answer so you may as well just go with the flow. I suppose one reason I'm slightly reluctant is that I'm not that good at it - I seem slow to pick the tune up, and sit there wishing I had the music - but this was all pretty survivable.

After the first few songs LD Frazier then did a handful of poems by Langston Hughes, a poet whose work, LD tells us, does much to reflect the feelings of African-American people. He's an incredible performer and he very much made me want to find out about, and read more by Hughes.

From there till the end of the concert Frazier performed songs accompanying himself – forcefully! – on the piano. I’m afraid that I didn’t get the titles. We got to sing along with a couple more too. I was noticing in his biography where it talks about him working with a choir and doing workshops and so on (including some Scott Stroman/Eclectic Voices stuff, and I think more than one Jazz vespers at St Anne’s?) and I was wondering if he ever uses a band, too, and how great it would be to play in it with him. I always feel that if I find myself playing solos (which are always far better than what I manage in real life!) or working out the horn parts, then it’s an indicator of some kind that I’ve “clicked” with the music in some basic way.

And that’s pretty much it – over too soon. I stayed behind for a coffee and a chat with Jana the Superpriest (on Lutherans and music, if you must know – interesting field!) and to say hello to LD Frazier who was very nice.

The only thing that disappointed me about this concert was that the audience felt a little on the slim side. (Not me personally, you understand – that would be just fine.) I seem to recall that it says Judge not, that ye be not judged. in some book somewhere (oh alright it’s Matthew 7:1) so I will try not to be horrid, but I did wonder a little. I don’t go there just for the Schubert or whatever (much though I love it) but because I trust SS A&A to put on an interesting programme, so I want to hear what they think I might want to hear – it’s a kind of symbiosis between their judgment and my ear’s delight and interest. So I hope that the sparse-looking audience was just coincidence and not the classical people staying away, a thought which – while trying to stay off judgementalismness(igkeit?) – troubles me somewhat. However I'm not the judge, I'm not the judge, everybody knows that I'm not the judge, and I must also not make mountains out of molehills, and will shut up now, except to say great gig, more please.

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