An Interview with Andrew Oliver

The Dime Notes & their blues-drenched sounds of clarinet-driven 1920’s New Orleans jazz are returning to Scotland this June for an extensive tour. The Mumble managed to grab a wee chat with pianist, Andrew Oliver



Hi Andrew, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

I’m from Portland, Oregon in the Northwest USA. Now I live in Muswell Hill in North London. I moved to London in 2013 after my wife got a job in the UK and have been immersed in the music scene in London since then.

How did you first get into music?
I played classical piano and cello as a kid. I was always interested in music and there was a piano in the house which I used to play all the time. I started lessons when I was about 4. I played classical music until I was in my teens, when I discovered the music of Jelly Roll Morton and other early jazz and ragtime which was really inspirational. I started playing early jazz and later went to University in New Orleans and studied and played a lot of modern jazz as well. Now I do a bit of everything, a lot of old jazz and swing, some tango piano and the occasional modern jazz project as well.

What are your instruments?
I play piano pretty much exclusively now. I used to play cello when I was younger and a bit of trumpet and drums but not much anymore, there’s too much to work on just on piano! In the Dime Notes we have me on piano, Dave Kelbie on rhythm guitar, David Horniblow on clarinet and Tom Wheatley on bass.

Can you tell us about the origins of the Dime Notes?
When I moved to London, I met Dave Horniblow, our clarinetist, when I was watching a gig he was playing. He had just returned to London from a year in Australia, so we both had free time and we got together to work on some duets, discovered we shared a lot of musical tastes and felt that our styles meshed well together. We landed a weekly duo residency at a bar in east London for about a year which was great for working on a bunch of interesting tunes. I had met Dave Kelbie at another gig and was immediately struck by his powerful and swinging rhythm guitar playing, and so he was a natural addition to the duo when we felt like expanding to a larger band. We rounded it out with the exceptional slap bass playing of Tom Wheatley, who has an amazingly huge sound and has mastered the nearly lost art of 20s style slap bass, in addition to having a unique perspective from playing a lot of free improvised music as well.


How do you select suitable tunes for your repertoire?
One of the main focuses of the band is to play a wide variety of 20s and 30s repertoire outside of the most commonly played tunes. Very often in traditional jazz circles one hears the same tunes a lot of the time. With the Dime Notes we’ve made a point to delve into the 20s and 30s recordings carefully and comprehensively to find really interesting and unusual pieces, especially ones with a variety of sections and textures within the tune, rather than more standard short-form tunes. We perform a lot of Jelly Roll Morton’s music – he was one of the great pioneers of the style and a true compositional innovator as well. We have re-arranged a lot of his piano solo pieces for band which is texturally really interesting. We also have drawn from the repertoire of some of Dave’s favourite clarinetists including Sidney Bechet, Johnny Dodds, and Omer Simeon – the New Orleans creole clarinet pioneers. We’re always listening to old records, on the lookout for new pieces to play and interesting tunes which we feel we can adapt to our instrumentation and style. We tend to subtly rearrange the compositions as well, tailoring them to the way we play individually and as a band, rather than attempting to copy the original recordings exactly.

How do you find the audience reacts to music almost a century old?
We have found that modern day audiences have a very positive reaction to our music. I believe strongly that the style has a universal appeal, with a really strong groove that people can feel and understand, harmonic forms which are still related closely to rock and pop, and generally accessible melodies. The complexities lie in the subtlety of the grooves and improvisations and in the formal structure of the compositions. We play regularly for a wide variety of audiences, from older audiences who are very familiar with the style right down to young hipsters in East London bars. I think they can all find something in what we’re playing, as the general energy level and swing seems to come across very well. Finally, I think the fact that we are presenting the repertoire in a fresh but well developed framework, rather than as a relic or recreation, has certainly helped to project an exciting image to our audiences.

What do you do when you’re not jazzin’ it up?
My wife and I love to travel and be outdoors, hiking, canoeing, etc (though canoeing is more difficult now since we left our canoe in Oregon as it was too big to ship over!). I am slowly but enthusiastically learning to play tennis and also enjoy cooking. I try to avail myself of London’s great museums theatres and concerts when I’m not gigging as well!

You are just about to take your music on a major tour of Scotland. Are you excited?
Yes definitely. We did a short tour in Scotland in 2016 and it was really great, wonderful venues and people. I have done a bit of travelling in the Highlands last year as well and really enjoyed the landscapes and vibe. We’re really looking forward to exploring many parts of the country and playing for a wide variety of audiences, as well as enjoying the scenery and hospitality!

Where will you be sleeping each night?
Hotels and B&Bs I imagine – Dave Kelbie our guitarist is the booking master so he’ll have sorted most of that out. Some of the venues will be providing accommodation themselves as well.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for the band?
We are always playing at least a few times a month in London at bars and clubs as well as increasingly for swing dancers, which is always a blast. We’re playing in October for a swing dance festival in the Netherlands and at a number of UK jazz festivals this summer (Swanage, Upton, Ludlow Fringe). We might make it over to Ireland this year as well, if all goes well. In 2018 we’ll be touring Europe a couple of times as well as a trip to Canada!

Check out The Dime Notes Scottish itinerary here

Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra


Perth Concert Hall
27th May 2017

Yuri Botnari [© RMS TV].png

I have probably said this before, but for some time we have been used to hearing classical music reproduced on and moderated by electronic media, and watched orchestras at work courtesy of video cameras. A performance in a concert hall, by comparison, is a totally acoustic experience. It depends very much on the properties of the particular hall, and of course there is no scope for engineering the sound to perfection, eliminating extraneous noise, or repeating passages if a mistake is made. In actually attending an orchestral concert one must accept these rough edges and that there is no way to smooth them. I will mention a couple from this performance (the over-strident timbre of the triangle and the bad note sounded during ‘Bydlo’) and move on. Also in a live concert one has to accept the interpretation offered by the conductor; if something is taken at a slower tempo than you like or are used to (as was, to my taste, the ‘Dance of the little swans’ from Swan Lake), there is no opportunity to pick a different version – this is not YouTube!

Apart from recorded audio performances, the other feature of a venue that competes with attending a concert is, as I mentioned, the televised production that allows you to see the orchestra at work, thanks to well-placed cameras. I love Perth Concert Hall and have attended not only orchestral concerts there, but rock gigs, jazz, recitals, and talks. It’s a great all-purpose venue, but there are problems when it features an orchestra. These problems are the flat stage and the gentle rake of the removable seating, which means that the bulk of the stalls have a view of the front rank of first violins, the front rank of cellos, and very little else. Add a grand piano front-and-centre and that’s that! The lesson is to rely on, and get as much as you can from, the good acoustics here – just enjoy being in the same ‘real space’ as an orchestra.

The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra is a very formal, very disciplined outfit. This can be seen from the way they enter the stage to take their seats, all the way through the performance, to their leaving the stage. If at first there was a kind of coolness to their precision, which may be one reason why the imperfections I mentioned stood out, by the time they had got to their second encore – the ‘Pas de deux’ from Nutcracker – they had totally found their groove, they had warmed to the audience and the audience had warmed to them. Their performance of very popular pieces with a distinct Russian flavour, with French dressing, were directed by a conductor who had been a child prodigy and has since then been heaped with honours, Moldovan-born Yuri Botnari. He used the orchestra’s discipline to good effect, bracketing the main performance of the evening with material which, albeit ‘easy winners’, showed what they could do.
Freddy Kempf in rehearsal [no © details].jpgThe other former child prodigy present was concert pianist Freddy Kempf. The Rachmaninoff concerto that he tackled is one of considerable technical difficulty, and yet he launched himself into it with great energy. I very seldom attend a performance where my attention is held throughout, but this was one. Kempf’s handling of the solo passages was enthralling, there is no other word for it, and the balance between orchestra and soloist was almost perfect. The slight swamping of the piano in the coda of the concerto’s final movement was just one of the rough acoustic edges we had to deal with. My only regret is that this is a piece that Kempf has never recorded, at least not yet. If he did, I would add it to my iTunes library without hesitation.

As an overall assessment of the concert I really couldn’t fault the acoustics and totally accept the ‘edges’ in the performance, so I have to award five stars. For the atmosphere I’ll take one away from top marks, because the evening took a little while to warm up and, as it had cooled down during the interval, needed a second boost, so four stars. As regards performance, it would be churlish to punish a single cracked note from one member of the orchestra; Pictures at an Exhibition was a feast of synesthesia, Ravel’s orchestration conjuring up vivid mental images perhaps beyond the paintings by Viktor Hartmann that originally inspired Musorgsky, and of course the Rachmaninoff piano concerto was breathtaking, so round up four-and-a-half stars to five. That’s as near to a royal flush as a hand can hold. The concert programme continues on 28th May at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and on the 30th at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

Many thanks to Perth Concert Hall and Perth Festival of the Arts.

Review by Paul Thompson

Sibelius 5

May 26th

Usher Hall

Thomas Sondergard – Conductor

The Bells rang to usher us into the hall, the audience sat watching the orchestra make a final amendments to their instruments. The Usher hall provided a wonderful setting for this with great atmosphere, sound and lighting. A nice touch was the Chief executive dedicating the concert to the terrible atrocities that were carried out in Manchester that week.  Thomas Sondergard entered the stage and immediately captured the audience with his stage presence. The concert started with gently flowing melodies. Jennifer Johnson joined the stage, holding the audience in her hands with her strong well controlled tone for the Mahler songs.

After the interval the audience were treated to the Beethoven Lenore Overture No3, set in a Spanish Prison at the end of the 18th Century and part of the Opera Fidelio, said to be the manuscript that caused Beethoven “the most sorrow; and for that reason the one, most dear to me”. The Bows of the wood section came to life, frantically building up to the finale which filled the stage with emotion and drama with the orchestra and conductor giving their all.

Sibelius Five 26-05-17.jpgJennifer Johnston – Mezzo-SopranoThe grand finale of Sibelius Symphony No 5, saw the wood section show you not only their skills in arco-work, but also in pizzicato. Principle flutist Katherine Bryan stole the show, magically transporting you into another world with her stunning work. The lights of the Usher Hall glistening down on her flute added to the moment. The excellent and captivating work of timpanist Benedikt Kurz is also worth noting, the concentration and skill made for excellent dramatic build to an end that saw the RSNO work to create a finale to remember.

Sibelius was said to have drawn great inspiration from the natural world, you feel this in the music, with what sounds like the build-up of humming bee’s approaching you in areas, you are often transported in your mind to scenes of nature. “Today I saw 16 Swans. One of the greatest experiences! Lord God, what beauty!” The Concert flowed well, completely enthralling from beginning to end, true escapism in the magic of the music.

Reviewer : Dolina Gorman

Perth Festival of the Arts

Perth Concert Hall

Wednesday 24th May



With every passing season, Perth is cementing is steadily growing status as one of the top cultural hot-spots of Scotland. Right now its ‘Festival of the Arts’ is drawing performer & punter alike into its warm embrace, & a delightful experience it is to. For me, a wee drive to Perth is never too bad & so I chose last night’s gig in the Concert Hall for this year’s slice of the cake. Rachel Sermanni was up first, a young lassie from Carrbridge who appeared on stage with a Pictish ponytail & her ‘lovely band’ as she put it, for a low-key yet spiritually invigorating set. What Seth Lakeman is to the Celtic West Country, Sermanni is to the Celtic north & of her many gracefully sung tunes, the one in which she sang ‘This is where I lay my heart / All the people gathering pass round the Whiskey‘ was especially engaging. Next up was Adam Holmes, whose set in the large I missed on account of me having to find a garage to fill the car with petrol, else spend the night sleeping in it overnight in Perth with no duvet or anything. Still, I did catch the last couple of songs & thoroughly enjoyed this young man’s guitar work, his trance-inducing band & their collectively mellow vibrations.

Then it was time for the main event; the ridiculously entrancing, ingeniously-crafted, foot-stompingly hypnotic Treacherous Orchestra… Goth-Folk at its funkiest & epic best. Drawn from all over Scotland, this supergroup becomes something like Led Zeppelin at a ceilidh, using proper instruments, the orchestra kicking through their session like a bunch of bikers on the Stornaway ferry, & the crowd was up & dancing. This is what happens when magically modified heavy metal meets the mild-mannered middle classes, & the blend was some spectacle to watch & some audiofest to hear. An explosion of light & sound, for me this was my first Treacherous experience & they have burned something of an immemorial & indelible mark across my mind. Happy Days!

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen


Haydn Symphony No. 88 & Mahler Symphony No. 7

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

21st May 2017

thomas_dausgaard M7.jpg

This varied and rich programme chosen and conducted by Thomas Dausgaard, commences with Haydn’s Symphony No. 88.  Completed in 1787, it belongs firmly to the classical era; ordered, harmonious, light hearted and a delight to listen to.  Haydn, considered to be the ‘father of the symphony’ was a friend and mentor of Mozart and to me his music is similarly as joyful and exhilarating.  It is written in four parts, the slow largo movement is considered one of his best, the melody is played by solo cello and oboe to which the whole orchestra reply to at various points.  Brahms after hearing this movement is said to have commented that ‘I want my 9th symphony to sound like this’!  The minuet and trio is evocative of folk music of Hungary, Haydn was born on the border of Austria and Hungary and his father was a keen folk musician.   In the finale the tempo picks up but the music remains dainty and light hearted.  Haydn was known for his good humour and his love of practical jokes.  Perhaps seen by many as lacking the tragic allure of Mozart, his early years were difficult making his own way in music, he was afflicted by smallpox, and his face bore many scars, and he married unhappily to the sister of a woman who he had been in love with.  Obliged to stay with each other, they both took lovers and never had children.  He lived to the age of 77.

Moving forward more than 100 years, the orchestra turned to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 7, a long and complex symphony.  The movements are quite varied but notably with dark undertones.  The night movements were written first, the 1st, 3rd and 5th movements came after a period of composer’s block culminating in a boat trip across a lake where his inspiration at last re-surfaced.  A work of the late romantic era; louder, more dramatic, more atonal, such works continue to be controversial.  However this work despite its challenges is compelling, with genuine melody and subtlety.  The second movement is more subdued with the night music, Mahler compared it to Rembrandt’s ‘the night watch’ a quiet march punctuated by the main theme.  The scherzo continues in a spooky fashion with shrieking motifs, distorted waltzes and mourning strings.  In the 4th night movement the romantic melody is the symphony’s most charming, and yet the darker tones remain.  Mahler used a number of unusual instruments in this movement; a solo mandolin and guitar offer the romantic serenade.  However as with many love themes there is an air of sadness.  The finale picks up in mood and takes on a triumphant air, quite different to the previous movements, Mahler himself described it in the phrase “the world is mine!”.   It is thought from a letter written to his wife around that time that he had begun to recognise the importance of a positive attitude, especially in the context of relationships.  However Mahler had something of an artistic temperament and forbade his wife from composing music, which she was frustrated by. She eventually had a surreptitious affair which Mahler was very upset by and visited Sigmund Freud, who advised him to allow his wife her own musical freedom, which he duly did.  But sadly for him she continued her affair, and we could surmise from his music that his love for her was genuine but frequently overshadowed by his (and her) artistic temperament.  Mahler was born in Bohemia to Jewish parents and died at 51 due to a heart condition.  Following his diagnosis he made some changes to this symphony before it premiered, which may have added to its darker undertones.

Thomas Dausgaard’s love of these two pieces is clearly evident and his enthusiasm and engagement with these pieces and the excellent Scottish symphony orchestra is clearly evident.  I also enjoyed the fact that the works are quite different and from different eras.  The Usher Hall is a lovely venue, classical music is good for the brain, so make sure you check out the BBC Scottish symphony orchestra.

Reviewer : Sophie Younger

An Interview with Andy Duncan

Miracle Glass Company Image 1.jpg
Andy Duncan, far right, the pulsing heart of the Miracle Glass Company
Hi Andy, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m from a small town in central Scotland called Stenhousemuir (occasionally known as ‘Stenhousemuir nil’). I’ve been living in Edinburgh for a good few years now though.
You’re the drummer with Edinburgh’s coolest new band, the Miracle Glass Company, when did you first pick up the sticks?
I got my first toy drumkit when I was about 4, but didn’t play a proper kit until I was 12 at school. I’d been getting piano lessons but didn’t really enjoy the classical nature of them, so when I realised hitting things was a viable musical option I got straight on it. I got my first proper kit when I was 14 and haven’t looked back.
Who are your inspirations in the drumming spheres?
When I started I would drum along to Hendrix, Nirvana and Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I think there is still a strong Mitchell, Grohl, Smith element to my style. I’m not a massive fan of highly technical drummers, and for a long time I avoided practising in case I got too good… I have a lot of time for Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) and Ringo – keep it simple and serve the song.
Which bands have you played with before the Company?
I’ve been very lucky to play in two Edinburgh institutions – Miyagi and The Black Diamond Express.
Who writes the songs for the band?
Our aim is to be very democratic and have an equal input to the band in all areas. This includes songwriting so we all write songs for the band, and then develop them together. The initial writing is usually an individual thing but we have been doing some more in the way of collaborating right from the start of the writing process recently.
You guys are capable of some velvety harmonies – whats the creative process behind these?
Thank you. We’re very proud of our harmonies and spend a lot of time working on them. Most of the time the placement of harmonies comes quite naturally in the song development and notes chosen are down to the individual. Sometimes we need to work it out a bit more to get them the best they can be. Then it’s a case of practise, practise, practise. That’s the only way to get the blend right.
What are your favorite tunes in the repertoire?
They’re like children – I have my favourites but I could never tell you for fear of upsetting the others. They’re all special.
Where will you be playing this summer?
We’re about to go out on tour in support of our new single T.R.O.U.B.L.E. – London, Brighton, Liverpool and Wrexham. Then we have some very cool gigs lined up in the summer at Shuffle Down Festival (in my home town), XpoNorth in Inverness, King Tut’s in Glasgow and a new festival in Dundee called Carnival Fifty Six which looks really cool. We also have a residency in Edinburgh at The Voodoo Rooms called ‘Late Night in the Big City’ which is every two months. We’ve had two this year already and they have been epic. There are some very exciting plans for the next one in June!
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Andy Duncan?
More MGC! We’re currently working on new material for our second album MGC 2 in between touring, and are looking to record that later in the year. In the meantime there will be more gigs, videos and other exciting projects coming thick and fast
TROUBLE Single Cover.jpg

Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique

Usher Hall 


28 April 2017

Tchiakovsky's Pathetique 28-04-17

This wonderful evening commenced with Alexander Scriabin’s Reverie, a short but powerful orchestral piece written at the young age of 26, it certainly does have a dream like quality, sadly beautiful.  It starts softly with the tragic melody introduced by the woodwind section, followed by the strings and full orchestra, the music builds and becomes a little more triumphant before descending again into sadness and the return of the opening melody.  Scriabin’s later works became more atonal making use of the mystic chord, highlighting his interest in theosophy. He was also fascinated by the relationship between colour and tone.  A frail and short-statured man who was brought up by his extended family after his mother died when he was 1.  He died at 43 of septicaemia.

This was followed by Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin concerto no 2.  The brilliant Russian born Sergev Krylov, a violin playing prodigy from the age of 5, begins unaccompanied with a bitter sweet harmony, which is taken up by the orchestra moving down into the basses and violas.  Krylov then begins a demanding ‘perpetuum mobile’ technically fiendish but delightful to listen to.  The melody is based on traditional Russian folk music.  The second movement continues with the solo violin’s fast paced melody becoming increasingly complex and passionate.  The third movement is a rondo, the melody of the violin continues increasingly manically with more dissonance and drum beats from the orchestra.  I thoroughly enjoyed this technically difficult and engaging piece.  Prokofiev is widely regarded as one of the major composers of the twentieth century.

The programme concluded with Tchaikovsky’s symphony no 6 in B minor Pathetique, meaning emotional or passionate.  Tchaikovsky died 9 days after the premiere in 1893; he regarded the symphony as a work of therapy and catharsis, having suffered years of depression and angst over his homosexuality.  There is a characteristic recurring love theme.  The opening adagio is poignant if a little pessimistic but a beautiful melody emerges which follows into the more lively allegro, a solo clarinet softly plays the melody until it is barely audible after which the music builds to a climax.  The dramatic and bold 3rd movement encompassing the full orchestra remains largely optimistic in mood building to a bold climax.  The concluding slower movement returns to the more poignant b minor with a suggestion of impending tragedy, punctuated by the love theme, it fades to a brooding end..  Tchaikovsky intended the work to be enigmatic and it is thought there was a secret programme that he wouldn’t reveal.  Did he have a sense of his impending fate?  We will never know, but his musical legacy will continue to be enjoyed by so many.  The distinguished Nikolaj Zneider, also an acclaimed violinist who has worked with the world’s top orchestras, deftly conducted the RSNO in this accomplished and enjoyable performance.

Reviewer : Sophie Younger