7–8 June 2019
Cafe OTO are proud to present this new and unique collaboration between a seminal award-winning author and five uncompromisingly exploratory artists.
Nathaniel Mackey and the Creaking Breeze Ensemble meet in London for the first time to develop two live performances based on letters from Mackey's From A Broken Bottle epistolary series. Inspired by Mackey's fictional music, these experimental performances will explore the mysterious balance between sound and word. Together the group perform real and imagined music using voices, drums, saxophone, cello and violin.
The Creaking Breeze Ensemble are: Billy Steiger, Evie Ward, Paul Abbott, Seymour Wright and Ute Kanngiesser.
Nathaniel Mackey was born in Miami, Florida, in 1947. He is the author of several books of fiction of “exquisite rhythmic lyricism” (Bookforum), poetry, and criticism and has received many awards for his work, including the National Book Award in poetry for Splay Anthem, the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society, the Bollingen Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Mackey is the Reynolds Price Professor of English at Duke University.
Mackey cites poets William Carlos Williams and Amiri Baraka, in addition to jazz musicians John Coltrane and Don Cherry, as early influences in his exploration of how language can be infused and informed by music. In a 2006 interview with Bill Forman forMetroActivemagazine, Mackey addressed the relationship he seeks between music and his own poetry: “I try to cultivate the music of language, which is not just sounds. It’s also meaning and implication. It’s also nuance. It’s also a kind of angular suggestion.”
Mackey is the author of numerous books of poetry, includingNod House(2011), the National Book Award-winningSplay Anthem(2006),Whatsaid Serif(1998), andEroding Witness(1985), which was chosen for the National Poetry Series. He has published several book-length installments of his ongoing prose work,From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, beginning withBedouin Hornbookin 1986. David Hajdu described the prose project as “not simply writing about jazz, but writing as jazz” in a 2008New York Times Book Reviewpiece on the fourth volume in Mackey’s series,Bass Cathedral(2007). Hajdu characterized the movement of language in the volumes as “kinetic and also contemplative, elegiac and mercurial, sometimes volatile.” The first three volumes of Mackey’s series were published together by New Directions in 2010. A recording of Mackey’s workStrick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25was released in 1995 by Spoken Engine Company, with musical accompaniment by Royal Hartigan and Hafez Modirzadeh.
Mackey coedited Moment’s Notice(1993) with Art Lange, and American Poetry: The Twentieth Century(2000) with Robert Hass, John Hollander, Carolyn Kizer, and Marjorie Perloff. Mackey has broadcast jazz and world music as a DJ on local noncommercial radio since the late 1970s, an endeavor he describes as similar to that of bringing together journal issues during his long tenure as the editor ofHambone magazine: “You segue, you juxtapose, you mix,” he noted in theMetroActive interview. Mackey’s critical work includesDiscrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing(1993) andParacritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews(2005). His many honors and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize; and the Stephen Henderson Award from the African American Literature and Culture Society; the 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation; and the 2015 Bollingen Prize from Yale University. From 2001 to 2007, he served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Mackey taught for many years at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently the Reynolds Price Professor of Creative Writing at Duke University.
Bass Cathedral Discography and Mix
Billy Steiger was born in Howth on the 16th December, 1986. Now he plays the violin.
“Then he sat down by a pond and began to play a tune. As he played, the most extraordinary thing happened. One by one the fish in the pond began to jump out and fly about in the air. And what is more, they were all different colours and they were singing to the music.”
Patrick, Quentin Blake.
Evie Ward (b. London, 1993) is a poet and writer based in London. Her poems have appeared in Art Licks, SALT, Cesura//Acceso, and '5AM' - a digital release on Takuroku with Ute Kanngießer and field recordist Daniel Kordík. She often works collaboratively at the intersection of writing with music and art, having recently read new poems, stories and journal fragments with Ute Kanngießer for a live performance at Cafe OTO and exhibited a site-specific poem as part of 'Like A Sieve' at Kupfer. She has conducted extensive research on Moki Cherry and continues to work closely with Cherry's archive when possible. Evie is currently working on a book collaboration of interwoven poems & drawings with Corinne Bernard.
Paul Abbott is a musician and drummer. He plays with real and imaginary drums, synthetic sounds, performance and writing.
Recent and ongoing collaborations include: XT with Seymour Wright; XT+Pat Thomas; XT+Anne Gillis; X Ray Hex Tet; F.R.David, very good* & Rosmarie with Will Holder; film sound for Keira Greene; Rian Treanor Duo; RP Boo Trio with XT; The Creaking Breeze Ensemble with Nathaniel Mackey; yPLO with Micheal Speers and performances with Cara Tolmie.
Paul has performed at venues and festivals internationally. He was a co-founder and co-editor of Cesura//Acceso journal for music, politics and poetics, and SAM resident artist at Cafe OTO 2015. In 2022 he completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Florian Hecker and Nikki Moran. He is currently undertaking research at Royal Conservatoire/Academy Fine Arts Antwerp.
Recent releases include: solos Nsular, Ductus; XT+Pat Thomas “Akisakila” / Attitudes of Preparation (Mountains, Oceans, Trees); XT Deorlaf X, Palina’Tufa; Creaking Breeze Ensemble & Nathaniel Mackey Fugitive Equation; F.R.David very good*; RP Boo Trio 31.12.18.
Seymour Wright is a saxophonist. His work is about the creative, situated friction of learning, ideas, people and the saxophone – music, history and technique – actual and potential.
Seymour's solo music is documented on three widely-acclaimed collections - Seymour Wright of Derby (2008), Seymour Writes Back (2015) and Is This Right? (2017).
Current projects include: @xcrswx with Crystabel Riley; abaria with Ute Kanngiesser; [Ahmed] with Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Pat Thomas; GUO with Daniel Blumberg; XT with Paul Abbott; The Creaking Breeze Ensemble; a trans-atlantic duet with Andy Guthrie, and, with Jean-luc Guionnet a project addressing an imaginary lacunae in Aby Warburg's Atlas Mnemosyne.
Ute Kanngiesser is a London based cellist and composer from Germany. Over the years, she has carefully deconstructed her classical roots and almost exclusively performs unscripted, improvised music. Much of her work has evolved in relationship with other art forms such as film, poetry, dance, and site specific performance.
Cafe Oto has been her musical home since its beginnings and where she has collaborated with a wide spectrum of local and visiting artists. She has also performed at Whitstable Biennale, The Serpentine Gallery, Tate Modern, the V&A and international festivals.