Sunday 5 March 2023, 2pm
Alex Ward / clarinet, guitar and compositions
Charlotte Keeffe / trumpet and flugelhorn
Otto Willberg / double bass
Andrew Lisle / drums
Alex Ward Item 4 is the core group of the Item Series of ensembles launched by Alex in 2017 (Cafe Oto has also hosted performances by Items 6, 7 & 10). The quartet's music is the fullest realization of Ward's long-standing desire to create a context where his compositional concerns can coexist with improvisation of the most unfettered stripe. Given a line-up which would be perfectly capable of creating compelling music without recourse to pre-written elements at all, Alex's compositions aim to function as another "personality" within the overall mix, subject to the same spontaneous interrogation, negotiation and transformation that would naturally go on between the participants in a freely-improvised performance.
The musicians in Item 4 are amongst the most exciting and distinctive on the current London scene, and their rapport pays testament to the close working relationships they have developed in this and numerous other ensembles. On this occasion, the quartet will be launching their second album "Furthered" (released March 3rd on 577 Records), following on from their debut "Where We Were" (2020, Relative Pitch Records).
Keeffe’s debut album ‘Right Here, Right Now’ is where you’ll find her exhibiting a passion for vibrant soundscapes rendered in live spaces. Released in 2021, also on Discus Music, she earned critical acclaim carving out a niche on the imprint. She also composes and performs for a number of the roster’s artists, including; Hi Res Heart, Carla Diratz and Julie Tippetts. She also co-leads Anthropology Band with the head of Discus Music, Martin Archer.
To date, her music has been featured significantly on BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM and BBC Radio 6, where she's been described as a 'prolific', 'dynamic' and 'excellent improviser!', by the likes of Corey Mwamba, Stuart Maconie and Jez Nelson. Keeffe is a Serious Artist and part of Serious’ Take Five 2022 cohort. She performed a duet with the mighty City of London as part of world-renowned trumpeter Dave Douglas' Festival of New Trumpet Music 2022.
Harnessing the power of art for social change is a crucial part of Keeffe’s musical identity: she has served as Assistant Musical Director of the London Gay Big Band, champions gender and diversity equality, as part of the Parliamentary award-winning Women in Jazz Media team, and played in Marin Alsop's Taki Concordia Orchestra at the World Economic Forum 2019, in front of world leaders and celebrities including Sir David Attenborough.
From stepping on Glastonbury and Wilderness stages alongside Charlotte Church, Laura Mvula and Kate Nash, to broadcasting to an international audience live from her bathroom during the pandemic, Keeffe understands that embracing individuality and letting go of inhibitions is the surest way to grasp the transformative power of music.
“Keeffe shows notable strength of character as she runs the sonic and emotional gamut..." - Kevin Le Gendre, JAZZWISE
Otto Willberg plays various bass instruments and lives in London. Live, Otto performs unashamedly melodic improvisational workouts created almost entirely with heavily filtered bass harmonica and electric bass. Strangely abstracted funk and fusion, a blend of the abstruse and immediate. silky smooth, luxurious, odd and compelling, "like listening to Eberhard Weber through a drainpipe”.
Otto is often heard on acoustic and electric bass with Laurie Tompkins (Yes Indeed) and Charles Hayward (Abstract Concrete//This Heat), as well as the fractured No Wave unit Historically Fucked. His previous solo releases have ranged from extended technique double bass to explorations of the acoustics of a 19th century artillery fort.
He has a solo record called ’The Leisure Principle’ out on Oren Ambarchi's the Black Truffle label. 6 unashamedly melodic & profoundly strange workouts for heavily filtered bass harmonica & electric bass!
Andrew Lisle is the London-based drummer who performs regularly with saxophonist Colin Webster and guitarist Dirk Serries, with releases on the Raw Tonk and New Wave of Jazz labels. He studied at Leeds College of Music, as well as having a period in Portugal working with some of Lisbon’s veteran improvisers. Now based in London, he works regularly with saxophonist Alan Wilkinson and clarinettist Alex Ward.
Dominic Lash is an improviser and composer. A partial list of musicians he has worked with includes Antoine Beuger, Tony Conrad, Jürg Frey, Elizabeth Harnik, James Ilgenfritz, Charlotte Keeffe, Paul Lytton, Joe Morris, Evan Parker, Éliane Radigue, Mark Sanders, Roger Turner, Fay Victor, and Philipp Wachsmann. Best known as a double bass player, he has recently emerged as a guitarist.
Pat Thomas studied classical piano from aged 8 and started playing Jazz from the age of 16. He has since gone on to develop an utterly unique style - embracing improvisation, jazz and new music. He has played with Derek Bailey in Company Week (1990/91) and in the trio AND (with Noble) – with Tony Oxley’s Quartet and Celebration Orchestra and in Duo with Lol Coxhill.
"Sartorially shabby as Thomas may be, and on first impression even rather stolid, he has a somewhat imperious charisma that’s immediately amplified when he starts to play. Unlike other pianists whose virtuosity seems to be racing ahead of their thought processes Thomas always seems supremely in command of his gift, and his playing, no matter how free and ready to tangle with abstraction, always carries a charge of authoritative exactitude." - The Jazzmann