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Maggie Nicols

Maggie Nicols joined London's legendary Spontaneous Music Ensemble in 1968 as a free improvisation vocalist. She then became active running voice workshops with an involvement in local experimental theatre. She later joined the group Centipede, led by Keith and Julie Tippets and in 1977, with musician/composer Lindsay Cooper, formed the remarkable Feminist Improvising Group. She continues performing and recording challenging and beautiful work, in music and theatre, either in collaborations with a range of artists (Irene Schweitzer, Joelle Leandre, Ken Hyder, Caroline Kraabel) as well as solo.

Featured releases

Super happy to have dug this out of the archives - the final night of the great French double bass player, improviser and composer, Joëlle Léandre's 2015 residency. Léandre was joined by Scottish improvising vocalist and dancer, Maggie Nicols, and drummer Roger Turner for both nights, and the second of the two saw sparks fly. Solo, Léandre is formidible - melodious, angry, rousing. Her voice breaks through the bass like McPhee's through a trumpet - there's joy, there's humour, and it's 100% intense. Léandre and Nicols have a long history together - 1982's Live at The Bastille with Lyndsey Cooper still stands strong - and their trio with Irène Schweizer as 'Les Diaboliques' is totally unique. Here, both performers are totally at home with with each other and with their sounds - there's depth, unpredictability, intensity and delirious humour. A treasure to share all five pieces, and we hope for another Léandre residency some day soon!  “A true, real artist. Stubborn. Visionary. Uncompromising. Intense. Tender and poetic at moments, raw and angry with the world at other times. She is unconcerned by style, and definitely stays far away from stylistic and formal mannerisms that are needed to placcate the reviewers and the hip audiences. She integrates music as music, and delivers it as music, using elements from tribal rituals over classical finesse to jazz expressionism and avant-garde search for new approaches, yet turning it all into something else, something more authentic, more innovative and - interestingly enough - also more universal.” – The Free Jazz Collective --- Joëlle Léandre / double bass, vocals  Maggie Nichols / vocals Roger Turner / percussion --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Wednesday 18th March, 2015 by Mark Jasper. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Photo by the wonderful Dawid Laskowski. 

Leandre / Nicols / Turner – 18.3.15

Fragile strength is what i've been Radiant resilience Changing before your very eyes Though often unseen- (from 'Trilogy') As Takuroku hits the milestone of 100 releases over the past 6 months, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than a debut solo release (yes, the first ever!) by Maggie Nicols. Maggie has been a familiar name around OTO over our 13 year history, lending her voice and talents to a series of unforgettable performances, including a session with Joëlle Leandre and Roger Turner, which remains one of our favourite archived live performances to this day. While she might be best known as an improviser, most notably in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Feminist Improvising Group and more recently with the likes of 'Les Diaboliques', her talents stretch into song, dance, poetry, performance and composition. This release, modestly recorded on her computer after teaching herself how to use Garageband during lock-down, brings forth her doubts, anxieties, loves and desires in a 13-part musical journey. Webbed through piano ballads, playful improvised ditties, stories, poetry and multi-layered vocal arrangements, 'Creative Contradiction' feels like a long-overdue catch up with a close friend. There's reminiscing, there's laughter, there's tears, there's chatter that floats on and off topic, there's things shared you don't feel comfortable sharing with others. When the world around us makes these sorts of relationships difficult or rendered void, intimacy through art can feel like an act of generosity: a hand outstretched in the darkness. Thank you Maggie for gifting us just that. --  Maggie Nicols:  voice, piano, electric keyboard and ceremonial drum    -- Recorded at home in 2020Mastered by Oliver Barrett Photo from a workshop a ‘Learning, Transformation and Technique weekend at ‘Hecate’s Haven' What needs Nourishing’ guided by Portia Wintersduring Additional musicians on Track 8:  Katerina Koblizek - voice & Olitar (guitar made out of a Palestinian Olive oil can by cellist and guitarist Steve Moyes)  Ludek Salac - guitar

Maggie Nicols – Creative Contradiction: Poetry, Story, Song & Sound

Past events