Video by Helen Petts

John Tilbury

John Tilbury is renowned for his peerless interpretation of the piano music of Morton Feldman, John Cage, Christian Wolff and Howard Skempton. In addition to the performances and seminal recordings that he has made of these composers’ works, he has been an eloquent advocate of their music in his writing and speaking about them. The same is true of the attention he has paid to the music and ideas of Cornelius Cardew, the subject of his authoritative biography published in 2008, and with whom he played in the legendary improvisation groups the Scratch Orchestra and AMM. In the last ten years John Tilbury has performed a range of plays and prose pieces by Samuel Beckett.

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"it is odd to talk about a piano/bass/drums trio as a radical departure. But it is impossible to think of this meeting between bassist John Edwards, drummer Mark Sanders, and pianist John Tilbury in any other way . . . from the first notes, the three erase any notion of piano trio conventions . . . the three build tensile drama from moments of fractured intensity which break against pools of calm . . . you should jump on this one quickly" - Michael Rosensten, Point of Departure "this one-off encounter is truly an exceptional listening experience" - Burning Ambulance "London has long had a pedigree of crossbreeding improv's various styles and generations, but few have been as successful as this" - Richard Pinnell, The Wire --- In his review of Exta, the critic Brian Olewnick commented that “there's a tendency on the part of [John Tilbury's] younger companions to defer a bit to him”, adding that, in his view, this was not “necessarily a bad strategy”. In this encounter, their first as a trio, John Edwards and Mark Sanders do not defer to Tilbury at all, and it proves to be perhaps the best strategy of all. This is a vigorous music of equals, the democratic clamour of three distinct personalities committed to occupying a common space and working together to create something collective without erasing their differences in the process. There's tension, even friction, at times between Edwards and Sanders' quickness and Tilbury's more measured approach, but it's a productive tension and one that enables all three to explore areas of their playing that perhaps aren't always foregrounded: Edwards' ability to wait and patiently twist long resonant notes out of near nothingness; Sanders' sense of space and sharp delicacy with small sounds; and Tilbury's thunderous density and energetic attack. It's a startling performance and one that, like all great improvisation, exceeds, and perhaps even upsets, expectations. --- John Edwards / double bass Mark Sanders / drums and percussion John Tilbury / bird calls, piano and tape --- Recorded by Katherine Arnold at Cafe Oto on 17 June 2013. Mixed and mastered by Rupert Clervaux at Gray’s Inn Road. Title from Martha Rosler, Culture Class (Sternberg Press, 2013). Music by John Edwards, Mark Sanders and John Tilbury (PRS). Produced by Trevor Brent 

A Field Perpetually at The Edge of Disorder – Edwards / Sanders / Tilbury

In ancient Roman religious ritual, exta were the organs of a sacrificed animal offered up to the gods - the lungs, heart, liver and gall bladder; here, Exta is a selection of four pieces (one in two parts) carefully extracted from a long studio session. "Butcher’s sax ranges from soft, whispery purrs to teeth-chatteringly spiteful blasts. Lehn’s analogue synth leaps in a moment from burbling tones to fiercely sizzling abstraction, and Tilbury slips from his familiar melodic interludes and fragmented arpeggios to crashing, seismic attacks on the inside of the piano. What sets this album head and shoulders above similar offerings is the understanding between the trio. It’s not just the way all three move together as one from subdued lull to explosive rupture, but how each pushes at the others, stopping the music from settling into routine. Throughout the two-part “Pulmo”, each of the trio takes the opportunity to wrench the music from one direction to another with a sudden attack just as it settles into a plateau. More than a routine outing for three old heads, Exta is as vibrant, powerful and testing as anything we have heard from any of them in a while, which in itself makes it an essential addition to Improv’s history. " - Richard Pinnell, The Wire  "This gloriously unhurried, constantly shifting music—each dynamic stimulus tempered by currents of textural stasis, notably on the initial stretch of 'lecur'—resists summation. It is an enthralling, exemplary piece of work." - Tim Owen, Dalston Sound --- John Butcher / saxophones  Thomas Lehn / synthesizers  John Tilbury / piano  --- Recorded by Rick Campion at City University Music Studios on 25 June 2012. Mixed by Thomas Lehn. Mastered by Rupert Clervaux at Gray’s Inn Road. Photograph by Andy Moor (The Ex) Music by John Butcher (PRS), Thomas Lehn (GEMA) & John Tilbury (PRS) 

Butcher / Lehn / Tilbury – Exta

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