Monday 18 September 2017, 7.30pm
Following on from the groups Predicate, Forebrace and the Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet, this new ensemble represents the latest stage in Alex Ward's ongoing work combining composition and improvisation.
Item 10 is Alex's first foray beyond the world of small group leadership into the challenge of composing for a large ensemble, and the program will consist entirely of new pieces written by him for this performance. The musicians in the ensemble range from long-term associates of Ward's to others with whom he will be working for the first time in this group, and their strong musical personalities and varied backgrounds in the worlds of free improvisation, jazz and contemporary composition will be reflected in a evening of dynamic and unclassifiable large-group music, in which the structural and material elements made possible through notation will serve to stimulate rather than trammel the performers' improvisational instincts and responses.
Alex Ward / clarinet, guitar and compositions
Andrew Lisle / drums
Benedict Taylor / viola
Cath Roberts / baritone sax
Charlotte Keeffe / trumpet and flugelhorn
Joe Smith Sands / guitar
Mandhira de Saram / violin
Otto Willberg / double bass
Sarah Gail Brand / trombone
Yoni Silver / bass clarinet and alto sax
Alex Ward is a composer, improviser, and performing musician, working primarily with clarinet and guitar. His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. He subsequently took part regularly in Bailey's Company events, and has gone on to become a major figure in British improvised music.
His current work ranges from the duo Dead Days Beyond Help, in which he plays guitar and sings, his group Predicate who perform his compositions, regular improvising groups with Steve Noble, Kay Grant and others, as well as more ad hoc encounters with musicians as diverse as Thurston Moore, Joe Morris and Duck Baker. He brings a unique energy and inventiveness to all these projects, elevating them far above the ordinary and injecting them with a thrilling sense of danger and possibility.
"...guitarist Alex Ward [is] a compulsively creative polymath of indiscriminately omnivorous appetite ... a reliably unpredictable axe-hero for collaborators of all backgrounds." Stewart Lee, The Sunday Times Review
After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree specialising in jazz performance on the trumpet from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Charlotte Keeffe continued her musical journey and recently graduated with a Masters from The Guildhall School of Music & Drama as a scholarship recipient and Help Musicians UK Award Winner. Charlotte was lucky enough to study with her heroes - trombonist Sarah Gail Brand and trumpeters Noel Langley, Percy Pursglove and Byron Wallen.
Realising her deep fascination for Improvised Music, Charlotte got in touch with guitarist John Russell and helped established the Mopomoso Workshop Group. She plays regularly in the London Improvisers Orchestra and has shared concert bills with the likes of John Edwards, Steve Noble, John Butcher, Steve Beresford and Mark Sanders.
Charlotte performs as a trumpet/flugelhorn soloist, in a duo with Kim Macari Stone-Lonergan, and as part of her Space Painters Trio with two guitarists (Joe Smith Sands and Diego Sampieri). She is also a member of Martin Archer's Corps Radical quintet.
Andrew Lisle is a drummer based in London. During a period of two years living and playing in Lisbon, Portugal he spent much of his time at the Clean Feed Records' base of operations Trem Azul. Here he was able to develop his playing and collaborate with some of the city's veteran improvisers including Rodrigo Pinheiro (Red Trio), Hernani Faustino (Red Trio) and Rodrigo Amado among others. Since moving to London in 2013 his powerfully dynamic playing has established him as a sought-after drummer on the improvised music scene, performing and recording with some of the most innovative musicians in the UK and Europe. These include John Edwards, Seymour Wright, Alex Ward, Simon Rose, Alan Wilkinson, Kier Neuringer, Matthew Bourne, Dominic Lash, Rachel Musson and Mark Sanders. On-going projects to date include Kodian trio, Colin Webster/Andrew Lisle, Roland Ramanan 10-tet and Rose/Thompson/Lisle to name a few.
Otto is an improvising musician and composer, who mostly plays the double bass. His obsessive, and slightly unhinged tape Got Gills? is issued this July on Slip, and is his first release with the imprint.
He plays with multiple groups around the UK, and has recently toured NYC and the States with guitarist David Birchall, and psych outfit Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura.
Benedict Taylor is an award winning violist & composer specialising in contemporary music and improvisation. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music & Goldsmiths College, and is a leading figure within the area of contemporary string performance, at the forefront of the British & European new and improvised music scene. He performs, records and composes internationally as a soloist and ensemble performer, in the world's leading venues and festivals, alongside working extensively as a composer within the area of contemporary dance, theatre and film. Through his work he is involved with a number of higher education institutions, giving lectures & seminars at the Royal College of Music and Goldsmiths, amongst others. He is the founder and artistic director of CRAM, a music collective and independent record label dedicated to new and improvised music.
Bass clarinetist and multi-instrumentalist. His current projects include different combos with Sharon Gal, Steve Noble, Mark Sanders, Tom Wheatley, Grundik Kasyansky and he is a long-time member of Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana Maria Avram's Hyperion Ensemble.
Baritone/alto saxophonist Cath Roberts works in a variety of ensembles exploring free improvisation, composed music and the territories that lie between them. Originally from Northamptonshire and based in London for the past decade, she has strong links with improvisers from the north of England. Cath’s compositions for her quintet Sloth Racket combine written fragments with graphic notation to explore the balance between freedom and structure: the ensemble’s debut album ‘Triptych’ was hailed as ‘an important contribution to the ongoing debate about spontaneity versus form’ by Daniel Spicer in Jazzwise.
Cath has a duo with guitarist Anton Hunter called Ripsaw Catfish, and is a member of the Madwort Sax Quartet as well as Anton Hunter’s Article XI, the eight-piece improvising saxophone group Saxoctopus and the collaborative quartet Word Of Moth. Her contemporary jazz septet Quadraceratops released an album on Manchester label Efpi Records in 2014 to critical acclaim, and she regularly appears in other ad-hoc groupings of improvisers. When not performing Cath is active as co-founder of LUME, the platform for original/improvised music that she runs with Dee Byrne. www.cathrobertsmusic.co.uk
Mandhira is a versatile violinist performing as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral violinist in the UK and abroad. She is a founding member and the leader of the Ligeti Quartet, a young string quartet which has established a reputation as a leading dynamic and imaginative force in contemporary and modern music. She graduated with 1st class honours from the University of Oxford achieving a high 1st in performance and winning the Worcester College Arts Prize for the highest result in an arts subject.
International solo and chamber music tours have taken her around Europe as well as the USA, India, China and her country of origin, Sri Lanka. She has performed at prestigious festivals and venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre, Southbank Centre and St Johns Smith Square in London and the Carnegie Hall in New York.
Her repertoire is varied consisting of standard classical works as well as free improvisation and original projects often involving collaborations with contemporary composers, sound artists and musicians from a variety of genres outside classical music. With her quartet she has worked with Wadada Leo Smith, Meilyr Jones, Shabaka Hutchings, Laura Jurd, Kerry Andrew, Sean Noonan, and, following a tour to China and Hong Kong, has collaborated with leading Hong Kong DJ Choi Sai Ho and Japanese sound artist mamoru.
Mandhira was born in London. After completing her primary education in Sri Lanka, she was awarded a music scholarship to North London Collegiate School where she completed her secondary education. She was also a Leverhulme Scholar at the Junior Royal Academy of Music where she performed both as a violinist and pianist, also taking classes in composition and conducting. Her violin teachers have included Igor Petrushevsky, Howard Davis and Levon Chilingirian.
Described by The Wire magazine as “the most exciting trombone player for years” Sarah Gail Brand has recorded and performed on the international Improvised Music and Jazz scene since the early 1990s with Mark Sanders, John Edwards, Elton Dean, Evan Parker, Phil Minton, Veryan Weston, Lol Coxhill, Maggie Nicols, Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Beresford, Georg Graewe, writer and comedian Stewart Lee and countless others. Sarah fronts her own tunes quartet (Sarah Gail Brand Sextet), has a long standing duo with drummer Mark Sanders, and a trio with John Edwards and Steve Beresford and continues to work as a soloist and in ad hoc ensembles. As well as being a composer, Sarah’s trombone work ranges from playing Improvised Music and Jazz, studio session work to arranging & playing in pop and rock music. Sarah is a music therapist and a professor of Improvisation at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London and leads workshops on improvisation around the world. Recordings of Sarah Gail’s work can be found on the Emanem and regardless record labels.
Joe Smith Sands is a guitarist from London and has played improvised music since 2015. Following a period of study with guitarist John Russell he went on to be a founding member of the Mopomoso Workshop Group. More recently he has worked and performed with musicians such as Sarah Gail Brand, Veryan Weston, Charlotte Keefe and Alex Ward.