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14 January – 8 April 2015

Photo by Andrej Chudy

“going in a circle, at least not going in a circle” Guillaume Viltard (bass) & Seymour Wright (sax)

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Bass, drums and saxophone are the core elements of (what might still be called) ‘free-jazz’. Bassist Guillaume Viltard and saxophonist Seymour Wright are two of the most exciting current developers of this tradition – working way-beyond emulation, using knowledge of the past, extremely physical and new approaches to their instruments they lean against the jazz-past, on, into the future - always doing something different. Since late summer 2013 they have been part of a group of musicians playing, pushing and learning day and night in the OTO Project Space. 

From the new-year into the spring of 2015 Cafe OTO is excited to present a series of concerts each involving them in collaboration with a different drummer (and others). The two have been significant partners since Viltard moved to London in 2007; together they have performed in bass/saxophone/drums trios with Paul Abbott, Tony Marsh, Steve Noble and Eddie Prévost, sometimes with the addition of a second bassist. Each permutation has developed, and challenged those involved, in unique and very different ways. The continuity across these different meetings is fascinating, and the opportunity for this to be made public over a several-month residency a rare and exciting one.

Viltard explains that ‘quoting Samuel Beckett’s Molloy seems (to him) the best introduction to this musical approach: 

“And having heard, or more probably read somewhere, in the days when I thought I would be well advised to educate myself, or amuse myself, or stupefy myself, or kill time, that when a man in a forest thinks he is going forward in straight line, in reality he is going in a circle, I did my best to go in a circle, hoping in this way to go in a straight line (…) And if I did not go in a rigorously straight line, with my system of going in a circle, at least I did not go in a circle, and that was something.”

Guillaume Viltard

An intensely physical double-bassist Viltard was one of OTO’s first associate artists – he has played and performed here with musicians as diverse as Otomo Yoshihide and Kan Mikami, Louis Moholo-Moholo, and Evan Parker. Particularly memorable was a sensational solo set in support of Marc Ribot. Most often his work has been in the ‘classic’ jazz format of saxophone/bass/drums: from trios with the late Tony Marsh and Shabaka Hutchings, to most recently Eddie Prévost and Ken Vandermark.

His uncompromising, physical and rhythmic approach to the double-bass – always acoustic, adamant – connects to jazz learning from sources as diverse as Jean-Jacques Avenel, Barre Phillips, Johnny Mbizo Dyani and Ronnie Boykins. 

His close association with OTO endures, and since late summer 2013 he has been part of a group of musicians playing, pushing and learning day and night in the OTO project space. Most often private, groupings around this new energy these groups are increasingly public, for example Steve Noble’s (new) Quartet.

Video by Helen Petts

Seymour Wright

Seymour Wright’s work is about the creative, situated friction of learning, ideas, people and the saxophone – music, history and technique ­– actual and potential.

His solo work is documented on three widely-acclaimed collections - Seymour Wright of Derby (2008), Seymour Writes Back (2015) and Is This Right? (2017).

Current projects include: abaria with Ute Kanngiesser; [Ahmed] with Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Pat Thomas; @xcrswx with Crystabel Riley; GUO with Daniel Blumberg; The Experimental Library with Evie Ward; XT with Paul Abbott; a trans-atlantic duet with Anne Guthrie, and, with Jean-luc Guionnet a project addressing an imaginary lacunae in Aby Warburg's Atlas Mnemosyne.

His writing has been published in C//A, Sound American and The Wire.



Photo by Steve Gullick