Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most adventurous and engaged figures in creative music today and his recent 4CD boxset - 'Ten Freedom Summers' showed that he is currently operating at the height of his creative powers. This will be his third visit to Cafe OTO and his residencies here always offer a new insight to his approach to music. This time he will be working with four groups across the two nights. On Sunday, an acoustic trio with guitarists John Coxon and John Russell followed by an electrified quintet with Coxon, Russell, John Edwards and Mark Sanders. On the monday he'll open with a brass quartet with Gail Brand (trombone) and trumpeters Ian Smith and Byron Wallen and then finish things off with a driving percussion ensemble featuring Charles Hayward, Steve Noble and Orphy Robinson.
ISHMAEL WADADA LEO SMITH / trumpet
Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith has been active in the creative contemporary music world for over 30 years. A trumpet player, multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser, his original theory of jazz and world music has been significant in his musical development as an artist and educator. Born in Leland, Miss., Smith's early musical life began in high school concert and marching bands. At the age of 13, he became immersed in the Delta Blues and improvisational music traditions. As an improvisor-composer, Smith has studied a variety of music cultures (African, Japanese, Indonesian, European and American) and to fully express this music, he has developed an original theory and notation system for jazz and world music which he calls Ankhrasmation.
JOHN COXON / guitars
John Coxon, perhaps uniquely for an improvising guitarist, is inspired as much by the plangencies of Reggie Young as by the astringencies of Derek Bailey. As irascible and as spiky as it gets, his playing is always haunted by the ghosts of popular song and fragments of the blues.
JOHN RUSSELL / guitars
“for Russell the fingerboard is apparently multiple. He finds new tones in the same place, new relationships in the same gesture. A second trip across the fingerboard is always a different excursion. The harmonic is a transparent sound: silence and ambient sound pass through it. It accounts for Russell’s unhurried pace and his sense of order, even when he’s playing fast: there’s simply so much going on.” - Stuart Broomer, Point of Departure
John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with Evan Parker, Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Lol Coxhill, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others.
MARK SANDERS / drums
Mark Sanders has been acclaimed as “the most exciting, original and overwhelmingly powerful drummer alive” (Steve Reynolds, Jazz Corner) and his precise and propulsive drumming has graced projects with, to name but a few, Evan Parker, Jah Wobble, Broadcast, Agusti Fernandez, John Butcher, Roswell Rudd, and Otomo Yoshihde.
"ubiquitous, diverse and constantly creative, drummer Mark Sanders always outdoes himself, whether playing with restraint or erupting like a dynamo." Bruce L Gallenter, Downtown Music Gallery. NY
"a gifted player capable of seamless movement between free-rhythms and propulsive swing" John Fordham. The Guardian
GAIL BRAND / trombone
Described as "the most exciting trombone player for years” (The Wire), Gail has recorded and performed on the international jazz and improvising scene since the early 1990s with Billy Jenkins, Elton Dean, Evan Parker, Phil Minton, Pat Thomas, Lol Coxhill, Veryan Weston, Oren Marshall, Maggie Nicols, Georg Graewe and countless others. Recent projects include work with comedian Stewart Lee and appearing in both series of ‘Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle’ (BBC TV); the duo with US improvising vocalist Morgan Guberman; long standing duo with drummer Mark Sanders and Gail Brand Sextet performing her pieces with edgy improvisation at the heart of the music.
“..one of the most passionate and dynamic musicians alive." Time Out
"..an outrageously earthy tone and original, fluid style " All Music Guide
IAN SMITH / trumpet
“Smith’s trumpet playing is a particular revelation. His brassy blats and smears play off of the hyperactive spatters of Eisenstadt’s drums. There is a clear jazz edge to his tone, which sounds almost radical these days when many trumpet players in the improv world seem inclined to turn their back on that vocabulary. But he can also dip down to breathy flutters and muted coloristic playing.” Signal to Noise
BYRON WALLEN / trumpet
Byron Wallen is "one of the most innovative, exciting and original trumpet players alive" (Jazzwise Magazine). Widely recognised as a seminal figure in world jazz, he is constantly travelling the world recording, teaching and performing.
“Byron's always absorbing music genuinely draws in the disparate elements of African and Eastern cultures, while retaining true jazz spirit … ”
Byron was raised in a musical environment and started learning his first instrument, the piano, at an early age. He then went on to study the trumpet with Jimmy Owens, Donald Byrd and Jon Faddis in New York. His early music career was forged while he was studying for a degree in Psychology, Philosophy and Maths at Sussex University (he graduated in 1992). During this period he recorded for Loose Ends and Cleveland Watkiss, and played trumpet with the likes of Mervyn Africa, The Style Council, Charles Earland, Courtney Pine and Jean Toussaint.
CHARLES HAYWARD / drums
Charles Hayward is known as the pioneering drummer with This Heat and Camberwell Now. In 1976, Hayward and fellow Radar Favourites and Dolphin Logic member, Charles Bullen began practising with bassist Gareth Williams under the name This Heat. They began to experiment with tape loops, found sounds and keyboards on several sessions (recorded from 1976 to 1978, but not released until 1979). Finally, in 1979, This Heat released their self-titled debut album. 1981's Deceit marked the final new album from This Heat, Williams leaving just after its release.
While Bullen began working as a studio engineer, Hayward did sessions for Lora Logic, the Raincoats and Everything But the Girl before forming Camberwell Now with bassist Trefor GORONWY and tape manipulator Stephen RICKARD. The trio released several albums through the Swiss Recommended label.
When Camberwell Now disbanded in 1987 Hayward embarked on a solo career which has continued to the present day. He debuted with Survive the Gesture (1987), Skew-whiff (1989) Switch on War (1991) and My Secret Alphabet (with Nick DOYNE-DITMAS) in 1993. Committed to song 'but the shapes have to change', the current incarnation of his one-man show is an intoxicating mix of percussive attack, swirling electronics and lyrical fragment collage.
"Telepathic magic……. Hayward is one of the most life-affirming people who stalks this dark globe." - SOUND PROJECTOR
STEVE NOBLE / Drums
Steve Noble is London's leading drummer, a fearless and constantly inventive improviser whose super-precise, ultra-propulsive and hyper-detailed playing has galvanized encounters with Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Stephen O'Malley, Joe McPhee, Alex Ward, Rhodri Davies and many, many more.
In the early eighties, Noble played with the Nigerian master drummer Elkan Ogunde, Rip Rig and Panic, Brion Gysin and the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, before going on to work with the pianist Alex Maguire and with Derek Bailey (including Company Weeks 1987, 89 and 90). He was featured in the Bailey's excellent TV series on Improvisation for Channel 4 based on his book ‘Improvisation; its nature and practise’. He has toured and performed throughout Europe, Africa and America and currently leads the groups N.E.W (with John Edwards and Alex Ward) and DECOY (with John Edwards and Alexander Hawkins).