Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra
"Trade shoes with the person on your right" and "Play in the style that would be appropriate to accompany a belly dance" - not the usual sorts of instructions to give to a big band, but Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra were certainly up to the challenges presented by Jim O'Rourke's specially commissioned piece.
The work was one of two new commissions by American composers premiered at the fifth edition of GIO's annual festival. Celebrating their tenth anniversary, the orchestra's ever-ambitious and outward-looking approach comes across in these specially composed pieces by two stalwarts of Chicago's rich avant-garde tradition. Guest conductor and trombone player George Lewis first presents Tractatus - a detailed score exploring the difference between 'artistic' and 'everyday' improvisation, a distinction he explains in conversation with interviewer Brian Morton. The second commission - sent by Jim O'Rourke from his current home of Tokyo - is very different, consisting of two decks of playing cards on which are written instructions for the various members of the orchestra. The directions prompt - in the words of saxophonist and founding GIO leader Raymond MacDonald - a "negotiation between the individual and what's written on the card" and produced an exciting and unusual performance from the group. Listen out for shoes in the piano, manic trumpet fanfares, an impromptu round of drinks and a short lecture on haggis!
Presenter: Jez Nelson
Producers: Peggy Sutton & Phil Smith.