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 is a poet (b. London, 1993). She is interested in limits and opportunities of meaning through writing and reading, and an interdisciplinary, collaborative practice. She has conducted extensive research on the overlooked visionary textiles artist Moki Cherry and continues to work on her archive. She co-founded The Experimental Library (an event and publication series of responses to specific artists) with Seymour Wright.
Paul Abbott is an artist and musician based in London, working through questions and feelings connecting music and language: using real and imaginary drums, synthetic sounds, performance and writing.
His current collaborations include XT & lll人 with Seymour Wright and Daichi Yoshikawa, Falls with Keira Greene, ULAPAARC with Cara Tolmie and an ongoing project with Will Holder. A series of solo performances in Cafe OTO’s project space are documented here. Recent releases include solo's Sphuzo, qno, & Vagus and Pah' (XT), and vjerhanxsk (lll人). He is one of the co-editor’s of Cesura//Acceso and was one of the Sound and Music “Embedded” resident artists at Cafe Oto 2015-2016.
In addition Abbott has collaborated and performed with numerous other artists and musicians, including: Benedict Drew, Pat Thomas, Ute Kanngiesser, Billy Steiger, Bill Orcutt, Danny Haywood, Joel Grip, Brandon La Belle, Eddie Prevost, Steve Noble, Sebastian Lexer, Evan Parker and Otomo Yoshihide.
Seymour Wright’s work is about the creative, situated friction of learning, ideas, people and the saxophone – music, history and technique – actual and potential.
His solo work is documented on three widely-acclaimed collections - Seymour Wright of Derby (2008), Seymour Writes Back (2015) and Is This Right? (2017).
Current projects include: abaria with Ute Kanngiesser; [Ahmed] with Antonin Gerbal, Joel Grip and Pat Thomas; @xcrswx with Crystabel Riley; GUO with Daniel Blumberg; The Experimental Library with Evie Ward; XT with Paul Abbott; a trans-atlantic duet with Anne Guthrie, and, with Jean-luc Guionnet a project addressing an imaginary lacunae in Aby Warburg's Atlas Mnemosyne.
His writing has been published in C//A, Sound American and The Wire.
Ute Kanngiesser is a London based in musician from Germany. She has played classical cello since early childhood and turned to improvisation and experimental music while training in physical theatre and dance in Berlin. Since then, she has radically deconstructed her classical roots and focussed on the immediate material of her instrument - its limitless resonance and pulse, its potential for an elemental music that dissolves conventional notions of rhythm and pitch and what it means to be lyrical. Along this journey she has worked with some of the most influential players of free music and experimental composition, as well as artist film makers, writers and architects.
Most recent collaborations have been with John Tilbury, Seymour Wright, Paul Abbott, Billy Steiger, Angharad Davies, Steve Noble, Crystabel Riley, Rie Nakajima, Daniel Blumberg, Jim White, Eddie Prevost, John Butcher, Evie Ward, Tom Wheatley, Jennifer Allum, Marjolaine Charbin, Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga, Keiko Yamamoto, Phil Minton, Pak Yan Lau, Assemble, and Keira Greene.
Her music has been released on Otoroku, Matchless, Earshots, Another Timbre and Mute. www.utekanngiesser.com
Words about Ute Kanngiesser's solo release Geäder (Earshots):
"Automatic writing almost, or a fugue state. Arriving at an end point is an exhaustion, almost like waking from a dream. You look back at what has been created with bafflement. Footprints on a beach you can’t remember. You marvel: what have I done?" – We Need No Swords
"[...] environmental sounds captured in Hackney as a spur for improvisation; nasal bowing sounds, percussive fanfares, unspooling loops of harmonics that crack upon impact – whole sides to the cello normally shut down by conventional technique." - The Guardian