Sunday 12 March 2023


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Cafe OTO, in association with the British Film Institute, presents a day-long immersion in another era: one in which there were only four TV channels, and a music community that was struggling to be seen and heard.

We bring together four extremely rare programmes, scarcely seen at the time and never repeated, which show Cafe OTO regulars and other legends of the improvisation/jazz scene at work and in concert. Marvel at the earliest known film of Derek Bailey (Omnibus: British Jazz, 1973), Spike Milligan introducing The Tony Oxley Unit (Open Door, 1974), wild film of Evan Parker and Paul Lytton in performance (Aquarius, 1975), and Fred Frith giving a comic demonstration of his approach to sound (Jazz on 4, 1983).

This event is a reflection on the struggle to get heard in the mainstream – is it better to reject a public service broadcaster, or a great way to reach the unsuspecting listener? The Musicians’ Action Group, who made the Open Door programme, fought for better exposure for jazz musicians – but it remained a struggle, and is even more so today.

These four programmes show how sympathetic producers, often fans of the music, made it possible for viewers to discover it for themselves.

Thanks to the British Film Institute for permission to screen these programmes as part of the Performers Alliance Agreement. There is a 25% discount for entry to members of Equity, Writers Guild and the Musicians’ Union. Please present your membership card on arrival.

Our two panels will feature musicians who appeared in the programmes, viewers who saw them at the time, those who worked behind the scenes, and jazz critics then and now. Together we will dissect what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained.

For the afternoon session, Hazel Miller (Ogun Records) and Maggie Nicols will be joining event curator Ian Greaves and writer Frances Morgan to discuss the programme made for BBC2 by the Musicians' Action Group (Open Door, 1974). And in the evening, we reunite Evan Parker, David Toop and Max Eastley, the stars of LWT's Sounds Amazing! (1975), alongside musician and broadcaster Sarah Gail Brand and guest chair Stewart Smith.

Above all join us for a day of great music and eye-catching films, a true blast from the past. This is a one-off reappearance for these programmes which is not to be missed.

Max Eastley