Louis Moholo-Moholo / Alexander Hawkins Duo + Steve Beresford / Guillaume Viltard / Shabaka Hutchings / Louis Moholo-Moholo quartet

Louis Moholo

Wednesday 24 April 2013


Door Times : 8pm

Tickets : £8 adv / £10 on the door


The great drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo heads to OTO for two sets - a duo with pianist Alexander Hawkins to launch their new disc on Ogun 'Keep your heart straight' and a quartet with Steve Beresford (piano), Guillaume Viltard (bass) and Shabaka Hutchings (Reeds).


Musical fireworks are guaranteed from an intercontinental dialogue between the intense piano improvisations of Alexander Hawkins and the extraordinary dynamic range of South African percussionist Louis Moholo-Moholo, who played a pivotal role in the influential community of South African exiles who transformed the evolution of British creative music from the 70s.

Though representing two different generations of musician – the one, an established master and veteran of numerous seminal recordings and bands in the history of the music; the other, a member of a much younger generation, but whose audacious and far-reaching musical vision marks him as a major force in today’s scene – South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo and English pianist Alexander Hawkins have developed a special rapport over the past years.

Their duo captures an always-passionate mix of free jazz; South African melodies; Ellington; and much else besides.

‘Keep Your Heart Straight’ on the Ogun label (home to classic recordings by the likes of the Blue Notes, the Brotherhood of Breath, and many others) is the first released work of this pair; and adds another chapter to a history of duo collaborations with pianists which has already seen Moholo-Moholo create masterpieces with musicians such as Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, Irene Schweizer, and Keith Tippett.

"In the rich jazz history of an old lion making inspired new music with a young one, ‘Keep Your Heart Straight’ deserves a very prominent place on the podium" - John Fordham


Louis Moholo-Moholo was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1940. After early success with his band The Chordettes, he went on to become the drummer for the now-legendary Blue Notes (a band which also featured Mongezi Feza, Dudu Pukwana, Chris Moyake, and Johnny Dyani). This band arrived in England in 1965, and was to have a profound influence on the jazz and improvised music scenes not only in that country, but also in Europe more generally.

In the mid-1960s, Moholo-Moholo toured South American with Steve Lacy, recording with him ‘The Forest and The Zoo’, widely thought to be the first ever fully improvised album. Returning to the UK, he joined Chris McGregor’s newly formed Brotherhood of Breath, a big band which stunned audiences around Europe with their own highly individual sound. Many other high profile groups, all featuring Louis, drew personnel from this iconic band, amongst them Mike Osborne’s Trio (with Harry Miller), Miller’s own Isipingo, Elton Dean’s Ninesense, and various groups led by Dudu Pukwana.

Moholo-Moholo also led one of the most exciting groups of the time – the mighty Spirits Rejoice, featuring Evan Parker, Radu Malfatti, Nick Evans, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Tippett and the twin basses of Harry Miller and Johnny Dyani.

During the eighties Louis toured America with Peter Brötzmann's trio, and continued to work throughout Europe leading his own groups and developing many musical partnerships, including duos with pianists Cecil Taylor in Berlin, and Irene Schweizer in Switzerland.

Another important milestone in Louis's career was the forming in 1990's of his nine-piece band “Viva-La-Black”, which became the first group to tour South Africa, arranged by the British Council, as the lifting of Apartheid and freedom became imminent. More recently, he has been heard in duo with Wadada Leo Smith, as well as leading his ‘Unit’’.

Louis Moholo photo by Esther Cidoncha


Alexander Hawkins is a pianist, organist, and composer, labelled by recent reviews a ‘young master’ and ‘one of the most unique voices in contemporary music’.

His individual soundworld reconciles both his love of free improvisation and fascination with composition and structure; resulting, besides his leader projects, in his regular presence onstage alongside a range of established masters such as Louis Moholo-Moholo, Joe McPhee and Mulatu Astatke.

His Ensemble, his main project as bandleader, has been described as ‘unlike anything else in modern creative music’ and ‘one of the most vividly distinctive in contemporary jazz’. Downbeat Magazine wrote that Hawkins’ work had reached a ‘dazzling new apex’ with this group’s most recent album, ‘All There, Ever Out’.

Hawkins also co-leads two prominent ensembles. The Convergence Quartet features American Taylor Ho Bynum, Canadian Harris Eisenstadt, and Dominic Lash from the UK. Decoy is a trio in which Hawkins plays Hammond Organ, and which has been said to ‘redefine the words ‘shock and awe’’ (Jazzwise). Indeed, critic Brian Morton recently commented that ‘[t]he most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [Hawkins] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’

Concert appearances have taken him to club, concert and festival stages throughout Europe, and as far afield as Brazil, Russia, and the Indian Ocean. His music has been broadcast extensively on BBC Radio, as well as in Europe and beyond.


Steve Beresford is one of the giants of British improvised music, a restless multi-instrumentalist whose irreverent and anarchic spirit has been disrupting and galvanising improvised music for forty years. A superb pianist, he also plays an assortment of electronic devices and toy instruments. Always balanced precariously on the edge of chaos, he possesses an energy and verve that can animate any musical situation.

Beresford played in Derek Bailey’s Company, in the group Alterations with David Toop, Terry Day and Peter Cusack and in The Three Pullovers with Nigel Coombes and Roger Smith. Beresford has continued to play free improvisation with a large number of prominent musicians, including Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, John Zorn and Han Bennink. He has collaborated with Christian Marclay in various ways for many years, and he has a new CD on Emanem – Check For Monsters – with Peter Evans and Okkyung Lee.

Most recently, Steve has received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation composer award and has been performing in Christian Marclay’s new piece, Everyday.



Born in 1975 in the North of Ivory Coast, Viltard grew up in the wild countryside with almost no music. Back in France, he played with many artists of the French underground improv scene, including dancers and poets as well as musicians.

After moving to London in late 2007, Viltard has worked with many of London’s best improvisers, forming strong associations with the circle of musicians centred on Eddie Prevost's experimental workshop, becoming a mainstay of the London Improvisers Orchestra, and playing in a great free jazz trio with Tony Marsh and Shabaka Hutchings that was sadly curtailed by Marsh's untimely death.

It is this eclectic appetite for collaboration across the whole spectrum of improvised music as well as his resolutely unamplified and powerfully physical playing that marks Viltard out as one of the most interesting musicians to emerge from London's fertile improvised and experimental scene in the last few years.


SHABAKA HUTCHINGS / saxophones, clarinet

Shabaka Hutchings plays tenor sax,bass clarinet, clarinet. Described by the BBC as "one of the most eclectic and musically adventurous instrumentalists on the London jazz scene", Hutchings grew up in Barbados and studied clarinet at the Guildhall School of Music. One of the capitals busiest saxophonists he straddles both the avant garde and jazz orthodoxy leading the trio ZED-U and performing with Jazz Warriors, The London Improvisors Orchestra, The Heights, Louis Moholo, Charlie Hadens Liberation Orchestra, Jack DeJohnette All Stars, as well as Speech Debelle, Gary Crosbys Nu Troop and Red Snapper. In September 2010 Hutchings was confirmed as a 'BBC New Generation Artist'.

'Shabaka is a veritable cauldron of creativity ... an emerging Brit-jazz star if ever there was one' Jazzwise

Shabaka Hutchings' BBC New Generation artist profile