29–30 August 2019
“an incandescent power that made you rub your eyes in disbelief” – London Jazz News
“one of the best bands Moholo-Moholo has led in a long, illustrious career” - Jazzwise
Delighted to welcome back the great South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo to OTO, this time with his quintet, Five Blokes, featuring longtime collaborators Jason Yarde, John Edwards (bass), Alexander Hawkins (piano) and Shabaka Hutchings (saxophone).
Moholo-Moholo is one of the most significant drummers in the music, having powered such seminal groups such as the Brotherhood of Breath and Blue Notes from behind the kit. As well as leading his own bands, he has also collaborated throughout his career with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker, Steve Lacy, Peter Brotzmann, and many others besides.
"Experience the sensation of being blown away by the waves of emotion, whether overwhelmingly ecstatic or exquisitely refined. And most of all, perhaps, listen to the Louis Moholo Moholo Quartet to understand how, in this music, the individual and the collective can simultaneously attain equal importance: a most elevated state of being." – Richard Williams, The Blue Moment, review of Louis Moholo Moholo Quartet at Cafe OTO
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1940, Louis Moholo-Moholo has been one of the seminal figures in the international creative music scene since his emergence with the legendary Blue Notes in the early 1960s. Since this time, he has been at the heart of countless other classic line-ups, not least the Brotherhood of Breath, and his own projects such as Spirits Rejoice and Viva La Black. Alongside his profile as a bandleader, he has appeared worldwide and on record with a virtual who's who of modern creative music, including Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, John Tchicai, Marilyn Crispell, Irene Schweizer, Wadada Leo Smith, Keith Tippett, Kenny Wheeler, and Evan Parker, to name only a tiny number.
In the mid-1960s, Moholo-Moholo toured South American with Steve Lacy, recording with him ‘The Forest and The Zoo’, widely thought to be the first ever fully improvised album. Returning to the UK, he joined Chris McGregor’s newly formed Brotherhood of Breath, a big band which stunned audiences around Europe with their own highly individual sound. Many other high profile groups, all featuring Louis, drew personnel from this iconic band, amongst them Mike Osborne’s Trio (with Harry Miller), Miller’s own Isipingo, Elton Dean’s Ninesense, and various groups led by Dudu Pukwana.
Moholo-Moholo also led one of the most exciting groups of the time – the mighty Spirits Rejoice, featuring Evan Parker, Radu Malfatti, Nick Evans, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Tippett and the twin basses of Harry Miller and Johnny Dyani.
During the eighties Louis toured America with Peter Brötzmann's trio, and continued to work throughout Europe leading his own groups and developing many musical partnerships, including duos with pianists Cecil Taylor in Berlin, and Irene Schweizer in Switzerland.
Another important milestone in Louis's career was the forming in 1990's of his nine-piece band “Viva-La-Black”, which became the first group to tour South Africa, arranged by the British Council, as the lifting of Apartheid and freedom became imminent. More recently, he has been heard in duo with Wadada Leo Smith, as well as leading his ‘Unit’’.
Saxophonist Jason Yarde has already been a veteran of the leader's bands for some two decades. He is himself one of the most sought-after musicians of his generation, and has been a member of groups led by Andrew Hill and Jack DeJohnette, amonst many others. He is also a renowned composer, having been widely commissioned (including by the London Symphony Orchestra).
Alexander Hawkins is musician who is ‘unlike anything else in modern creative music’ (Ni Kantu) and whose recent work has reached a ‘dazzling new apex’ (Downbeat).
As a pianist, he has been described as ‘remarkable...possessing staggering technical ability and a fecund imagination as both player and composer.’ Concerning his organ playing, critic Brian Morton recently commented that ‘[t]he most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more, [Hawkins] has already extended what can be done on the instrument.’
His writing has been said to represent ‘a fundamental reassertion of composition within improvised music’ (Point of Departure), and his voice one of the ‘most vividly distinctive...in modern jazz’ (The Jazzmann).
An in-demand collaborator as well as soloist, composer, and bandleader, Hawkins continues to be heard live and on record with vast array of contemporary leaders of all generations, including the likes of Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, Mulatu Astatke, Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Marshall Allen, Han Bennink, Hamid Drake, Rob Mazurek, Taylor Ho Bynum, Harris Eisenstadt, Matana Roberts, and Shabaka Hutchings, amongst many others. He has also been noted for a number of years for his performances in the bands of legendary South African drummer, Louis Moholo-Moholo.
Concert appearances have taken him to major club, concert and festival stages worldwide.
“…Hawkins is a really vital link in a long historical chain, and his ability to sculpt his own language from a deeply rooted creative bedrock is compelling” - Jazzwise
“Sounds like all the future jazz you might imagine without ever being able to conceive of the details” - The Guardian
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
Hutchings was born in 1984 in London. He moved to Barbados at the age of six, began studying classical clarinet aged nine and remained until sixteen. Shabaka's primary project is the group Sons of Kemet, which won the 2013 MOBO Award for Jazz Act of the Year. In June 2014 Shabaka was invited to join the Sun Ra Arkestra, performing with them and recording a session for BBC Radio 3. He has performed and recorded with Courtney Pine's Jazz Warriors, Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics, Polar Bear and Soweto Kinch. Some of the many notable musicians he has shared the stage with include Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra, Louis Moholo, Evan Parker, King Sunny Ade and Orlando Julius to name a few.
As part of the Caribbean diaspora, he sees his role as that of pushing the boundaries of what musical elements are considered to be Caribbean. Constantly evaluating the nature of his relationship with musical material and tradition, he describes his attempts at composition as wrestling matches with questions of where and how the Caribbean can be encoded, and what happens when it is exposed to the western classical music cannon.