29–31 May 2015
One of the most inventive and eclectic figures in contemporary music, guitarist and composer Fred Frith makes a welcome return to OTO for three days alongside a compelling line-up of musical improvisers, with many of whom he provided some incredible moments during his last residency here almost three years ago.
“Few contemporary musicians have explored as many different – and frequently overlapping – genres as Fred Frith: traditional folk, indie rock, free improv, chamber composition, po-mo retro, graphic scores, and several…that may not have a name yet.” – Art Lange, Point of Departure
“Like all really fine performers in any genre, he gives you that pleasing sense of being in safe hands.Thisis partly to do with the fact that – as his opening solo improvisation proved – Frith is such a fine player of his instrument in the traditional sense.” – Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph (Review of Frith's residency at OTO in 2011)
Set 1: duo with John Butcher
Set 2: duo Theresa Wong
Set 3: trio
All with live visuals by Heike Liss
Set 1: Fred Frith solo
Set 2: trio Tim Hodgkinson and Roger Turner
Set 1: duo Lotte Anker
Set 2: duo Hannah Marshall
Set 3: trio
All with live visuals by Heike Liss
Frith's work has ranged from ground-breaking avant-garde rock with Henry Cow and Art Bears to extended compositions for choirs, orchestras and saxophone quartets and collaborations with figures such as Mike Patton, John Zorn, Brian Eno, Ikue Mori and Derek Bailey. His highly individual approach to the guitar and use of extended and unorthodox techniques give his music a unique and at times disorienting sense of texture and space.
Frith's musicial journey started when he formed Henry Cow with Tim Hodgkinson in 1968, a legendary group that expanded the parameters of rock music to include complex compositional forms as well as improvised elements.
After moving to New York in 1979, Frith was a key figure in the downtown experimental music scene, his collaborations with Zorn, Laswell, Mori and others helping form an important new musical vernacular in which elements of rock, contempary composition, noise and improvisation overlapped and intertwined.
Since 1999 Frith has been Professor of Composition at Mills University, California. Recent projects have included duos with Anthony Braxton and Evelyn Glennie, collaborations with the Arte Quartett and choreographer Donna Uchizono, and numerous festival appearances in Europe and America.
“A masterful sound colorist, Frith is in no way subject to analyses of has artistic legitimacy - (he) redefines the possible uses of the guitar and makes traditional discourse irrelevant” – L.A. Herald Examiner (USA)
Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, Rhodri Davies, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Eddie Prevost, John Stevens’ SME, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, and Okkyung Lee.
Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Matthew Shipp.
Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.
“English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.” – New York City Jazz Record.
"If you've ever been tempted by free improvisation, Parker is your gateway drug." - Stewart Lee
Evan Parker has been a consistently innovative presence in British free music since the 1960s. Parker played with John Stevens in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, experimenting with new kinds of group improvisation and held a long-standing partnership with guitarist Derek Bailey. The two formed the Music Improvisation Company and later Incus Records. He also has tight associations with European free improvisations - playing on Peter Brötzmann's legendary 'Machine Gun' session (1968), with Alexander Von Schlippenbach and Paul Lovens (A trio that continues to this day), Globe Unity Orchestra, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, and Barry Guy's London Jazz Composers Orchestra (LJCO).
Though he has worked extensively in both large and small ensembles, Parker is perhaps best known for his solo soprano saxophone music, a singular body of work that in recent years has centred around his continuing exploration of techniques such as circular breathing, split tonguing, overblowing, multiphonics and cross-pattern fingering. These are technical devices, yet Parker's use of them is, he says, less analytical than intuitive; he has likened performing his solo work to entering a kind of trance-state. The resulting music is certainly hypnotic, an uninterrupted flow of snaky, densely-textured sound that Parker has described as "the illusion of polyphony". Many listeners have indeed found it hard to credit that one man can create such intricate, complex music in real time.
Over decades Roger Turner has brought the renowned volcanic power and finely honed precision of his drum work to ensembles that have often forged real connections with musicians both sides of the Atlantic. In addition he has worked extensively in the microscopic laboratory of the acoustic duo situation where he acquired a highly developed sense of detail and of dynamic control. One of that select group of world-class players who have collectively redefined the language of contemporary percussion. In Turner's hands minute inflections of tension can shape the group's musical direction and galvanise a new level of audience experience.
Hannah Marshall is a cellist who is continuing to extract, invent, and exorcize as many sounds and emotional qualities from her instrument as she can. She has been a regular member of Alexander Hawkins’ Ensembles and has toured in Europe and South America with Luc Ex and Veryan Weston’s ensembles – SOL 6 & 12. She plays with ‘String Terrorists’ - Barrel (a trio with Violinist Alison Blunt & Violist/poet Ivor kallin). And has been invited by Fred Frith and Suichi Chino in their residencies at café Oto. She also plays with Terry Day, Tim Hodgkinson, Roger Turner, Paul May, Kay Grant, and the London Improvisers Orchestra.