Wednesday 20 May 2015, 8pm
Matthew Shipp and John Butcher first played together here at OTO on Valentine’s Day 2010. It was an unusual, perhaps even awkward combination, given Shipp’s deep roots in the American free jazz tradition and Butcher’s key position at the more abstract end of European free improvisation. But the pairing proved productive, and the two pugnacious individualists found a common space in which to work and forge new musical bonds, as documented on the At Oto album (Fataka, 2012). Since then they’ve only played together once, again at Oto, with synthesizer player Thomas Lehn, a longstanding associate of Butcher’s, who added extra layers of electrical strangeness and echo to the proceedings.
For this third encounter, they’re joined by one of Shipp’s closest musical collaborators, double bassist Michael Bisio, whose harmonic acumen, rhythmic intensity, and coruscating solos have provided the elastic foundations of Shipp’s trio since 2009. Recently, they’ve been working in drum-free contexts as well, releasing the critically acclaimed duo album Floating Ice in 2012 and a trio with Mat Maneri coming up in April (both on Relative Pitch Records).
Presented in association with Fataka.
“Shipp’s music has gotten slower and more meditative over time, but it’s a muscular sort of meditativeness, more like a patient prison-yard weight-lifting session than an hour spent sitting on a mat contemplating the universe. There’s a coiled energy present at all times, no matter how slow the rhythm or how ornamental the melodies may be.” – Phil Freeman, Burning Ambulance
“Harmonically fulsome and burring, Shipp refuses to lay off the gas for too long and this pushes Butcher into a simply howling phase (and it’s quite rare to hear him do this these days). At times it’s exhilarating, and it makes the more spacious passages that follow even more effective. Butcher’s liquid and animal sounds that emerge from near silence are extremely engaging, but best of all is the intensely complex weave of high velocity lines that close out the piece." – Jason Bivins, Point of Departure
“The mantra-like minimalism of Shipp's cascading pianism finds stylistic accord in Bisio's bustling pizzicato, their interweaving phrases vacillating between dynamic extremes of texture, tone and volume with impeccable timing. . . . Shipp's pointed key strikes accentuate Bisio's coarse glissandi as the two pirouette unfettered until the final notes drift into oblivion.” – Troy Collins, All About Jazz
Steeped in the history of the jazz avant-garde yet with an unmistakeably individual voice, Matthew Shipp has established himself as one of the most important figures in American creative music today. Combining an uncompromising personal language with an exemplary eclecticism, Shipp has worked with an astonishing array of musicians, including Roscoe Mitchell, David S. Ware, Antipop Consortium, William Parker, Mat Maneri, Spring Heel Jack, J Spaceman, Evan Parker, and Nate Wooley.
“Shipp’s approach to the keyboard is a study of tone, decay, muscle, and grace . . . round filigree unfolding amid monumental bell-like clangs . . . rangy attack that volleys from dense clusters that nearly distort themselves to barely perceptible skims of the keyboard . . . stark and insistent and utterly massive.” – Clifford Allen, Tiny Mix Tapes
Bassist for the Matthew Shipp Trio since 2009. Michael invariably astounds audiences with the beauty of his tone and the intensity of his very personal musical language. His music has garnered 4 1/2 stars fromDownBeat, Jazz Timesstates his music “resonates with intelligence, emotional depth and probing virtuosity.” Journalist Paul DeBarros inSignal to Noisenotes; “For years free improvisers have explored the tactile aspect of performance, in which the nature of the encounter between the player and the instrument becomes the subject of the music itself. Bisio is one of the few musicians that has managed to meld this high-concept sense of physicality with the soulful charge of jazz. His fiddle-high, scraped overtones create a tangled choir that is impossible to resist; his expressiveness with the bow is unmatched. Having whirled the listener into a transportive state, he gently shows them the way out...”
Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, Rhodri Davies, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Eddie Prevost, John Stevens’ SME, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, and Okkyung Lee.
Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Matthew Shipp.
Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.
“English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.” – New York City Jazz Record.