Friday 19 December 2014, 8pm
A special 60th birthday concert for the great improvising guitarist John Russell, revisiting some of the key musical partnerships that he's fostered over the years. Russell has played with a huge range of musicians - from Derek Bailey to John Butcher, Akio Suzuki to Mats Gustafsson - and has been an integral part of London's new music community for the past 4 decades. His Mopomoso club - founded in 1991 - is the UK’s longest running concert series featuring mainly improvised music. Tonight he performs in four sets, running the full gamut of his formidable musical versatility.
- Set 1. Trio with Satoko Fukuda (violin) and Henry Lowther (trumpet)
- Set 2. Duo with Phil Minton (voice)
- Set 3. Trio with Evan Parker (saxophones) and John Edwards (bass)
- Set 4. Electric guitar duo with Thurston Moore
“for Russell the fingerboard is apparently multiple. He finds new tones in the same place, new relationships in the same gesture. A second trip across the fingerboard is always a different excursion. The harmonic is a transparent sound: silence and ambient sound pass through it. It accounts for Russell’s unhurried pace and his sense of order, even when he’s playing fast: there’s simply so much going on.” - Stuart Broomer, Point of Departure
John Russell got his first guitar in 1965 while living in Kent and began to play in and around London from 1971 onwards. An early involvement with the emerging free improvisation scene (from 1972) followed, seeing him play in such places as The Little Theatre Club, Ronnie Scott’s, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Musicians’ Co-Op and the London Musicians’ Collective.
From 1974 his work extended into teaching, broadcasts (radio and television) and touring in the United Kingdom and, ever extensively, in other countries around the world . He has played with many of the world’s leading improvisers and his work can be heard on over 50 CDs. In 1981, he founded QUAQUA, a large bank of improvisers put together in different combinations for specific projects and, in 1991, he started MOPOMOSO which has become the UK’s longest running concert series featuring mainly improvised music.
Satoko has performed worldwide as a classical violinist, and currently on EMANEM Label with the Trio of Uncertainty. Since her concerto debut at thirteen, she has broadcasted an eclectic range of music for Classic FM, Resonance FM, BBC Radio 1, and BBC Radio 3. TV appearances include BBC Culture show and the Sky Classics. UK appearances include the Royal Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall, the South Bank, and the Barbican. Chosen to be musician in residence for the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House, she frequently travels with the team on international diplomatic engagements. Moving fluidly beyond the classical music, she is a regular guest performer at events such as the London Fashion Show, and the London Jazz Festival
John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with Evan Parker, Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Lol Coxhill, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others.
"I think John Edwards is absolutely remarkable: there’s never been anything like him before, anywhere in jazz." - Richard Williams, The Blue Moment
"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.
Thurston Moore started Sonic Youth in 1980 and has been at the forefront of the alternative rock scene since that particular sobriquet was first used to signify any music that challenged and defied the mainstream standard. With Sonic Youth, Moore turned on an entire generation to the value of experimentation in rock n roll – from its inspiration on a nascent Nirvana, to Sonic Youth’s own Daydream Nation album being chosen by the US Library of Congress for historical preservation in the National Recording Registry in 2006. Thurston records and performs in a cavalcade of disciplines ranging from free improvisation to acoustic composition to black/white metal/noise disruption. He has worked with Yoko Ono, John Zorn, David Toop, Cecil Taylor, Faust, Glenn Branca and many others. His residency at the Louvre in Paris included collaborations with Irmin Schmidt of CAN. Alongside his various activities in the musical world, he is involved with publishing and poetry, and teaches writing at Naropa University, Boulder CO, a school founded by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in 1974. Thurston also teaches music at The Rhythmic Music Conservatory (Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium) in Copenhagen. Presently he performs and records solo, with various ensembles and in his own band, The Thurston Moore Group.
Phil Minton comes from Torquay. He played trumpet and sang with the Mike Westbrook Band in the early 60s - Then in dance and rock bands in Europe for the later of part of the decade. He returned to England in 1971, rejoining Westbrook and was involved in many of his projects until the mid 1980′s.
For most of the last forty years, Minton has been working as an improvising singer in lots of groups, orchestras, and situations. Numerous composers have written music especially for his extended vocal techniques. He has a quartet with Veryan Weston, Roger Turner and John Butcher, and ongoing duos, trios and quartets with above and many other musicians.
Since the eighties, His Feral Choir, where he voice-conducts workshops and concerts for anyone who wants to sing, has performed in over twenty countries.
“Phil Minton is best known for his startling vocal improvisations. On his new solo CD, this sensible looking man proffers 37 thin slices of his unfettered soul. Not long ago these croaks, burps, high-pitched exhalations, deep-throated drones and shreds of garbled half-language would have seen Minton either burnt or hailed as an emissary of God.” – Stewart Lee, The Sunday Times
In a career lasting more than five decades, trumpeter Henry Lowther (born 1941) has shown himself to be one of the most versatile performers in British jazz. In the 1960s, he played with many of the ground-breaking groups of the period including bands led by Mike Westbrook, Graham Collier and John Dankworth and with the New Jazz Orchestra. At the same time, he established himself as a first call session musician recording with Bing Crosby, Nelson Riddle, Simon Rattle, Paul McCartney and Elton John among many others. Lowther played lead trumpet with both Gil Evans and George Russell. He has also been a successful bandleader with his 1970s group Quaternity, where he played trumpet and violin alongside Trevor Tomkins, Phil Lee and longtime collaborator bassist Dave Green. In the 1990s, he formed the band Still Waters with Pete Hurt, Ian Thomas, Peter Saberton and Dave Green, which showcases his compositions. More recently he has co-led the Great Wee Band with guitarist Jim Mullen, Stu Butterfield and the ever present Dave Green, recording 'The Sound of Music' in 2010.