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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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Verbatum notes for the concert as written by John Tilbury: John Tilbury - solo piano. ( Pavana. The Earle of Salisbury - William Byrde (1543-1623) . Fantazia of foure parts - Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) followed by Coptic play-along Improvisation based on/accompanied by Morton Feldman's Coptic Light (1985) A Wordless Encounter  "Last Friday my wife and I were on our way home by train from a wedding in Norwich. It was around 8pm. I had left my seat and had made my way to the exit doors. A young man was standing by the door. He must have been in his thirties. He was shortish, bulky, with a shaven head, and was wearing shorts and flip-flops. He was of fair complexion. My wife remarked later that he looked foreign, Nordic. He might have been a Baltic weight-lifter. I was facing the doors, he was standing between the two sets of doors. All of a sudden, I felt a presence at my right shoulder. It was a head whose teeth were biting through my suit and tee-shirt. I could feel the teeth though my assailant had not managed to penetrate the bare skin. Within around, I suppose, ten seconds I was able to shake him off. We stood facing each other; he bared his teeth, rather like an animal. I raised my hands in a calming movement and mouthed the words: it's ok, calm down, or words to that effect. At that moment a few people, including my wife, had left their seats, preparing to alight. I do not know if they had witnessed any part of what happened. My wife, seeing my arms raised in apology, thought I may have stumbled against him. The biter then bared his teeth to her and she, thinking he was smiling at her, smiled back. He repeated this. Then, facing the door opposite the exit doors he began to gyrate, or dance. My wife urged me to 'go through' and we moved purposefully, though unhurriedly, into the next carriage. We alighted at Folkestone West station and made our way briskly down into the subway and up to the exit leading to the bus replacement service. The biter had disappeared. On the bus I reflected on my response to the 'attack'. Bizarrely, although I had 'acted' to free myself from his teeth, there was no 'response' to the the 'attack', except a feeling of sheer disbelief. As if what happened must have been a 'fiction'. Would there be a 'reaction'? A nightmare? No. Nothing. I have recounted the incident to a few friends. My wife suggested I should describe what happened in writing. N.B This incident is entirely unconnected with this evening's concert." --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on 31st August, 2016. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Photo by Dawid Laskowski. With thanks to Seymour Wright. 

John Tilbury – 31.8.16

"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 

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

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