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Sunday 30 July 2017, 7.30pm

Photo by Dawid Laskowski

Pat Thomas – Four Day Residency: Black Top with strings with (Neil Charles / Benedict Taylor / Tori Handsley / Alison Blunt / Mandhira de Saram / Hannah Marshall / Ivor Kallin) + Pat Thomas / Okkyung Lee / Emi Watanabe (trio)

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We're delighted to present a four-day residency with one of the greatest living UK-based improvisers - Pat Thomas. Criminally unheralded, Pat is a fearless and uncompromising player who – despite coming from a background of free improvisation and new music – can feel as close to the worlds of noise and experimental music. His performances range in approach and texture from fearsome cacophony that can sound like a piano having its guts ripped out, with Pat thumping discordant clusters of keys with his fists or rattling the exterior wooden frame; to delicately soothing passages where his fingers glide over the keys, creating microscopic tones and resonant melodies that can hold an entire sonic landscape.

The residency coincides with the release of Pat's new LP - The Elephant Clock of Al Jazari - on our own in-house OTOROKU label, which comprises four typically genre-defying and sonically dexterous pieces from one of the UK's most extraordinary pianists.

"I can't quite think of anyone else who sounds quite like this: it is in a class of its own." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

"Thomas runs the gamut of techniques, splashing clusters, weaving contrapuntal lines and building elaborate structures from the inside out. Despite their variety, they share a fundamental quality – they truly sound like spur of the moment creations, not the final draft of ideas mulled over for weeks, if not months on end." - Bill Shoemaker, Point of Departure 

Pat Thomas

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 

Emi Watanabe

Emi Watanabe was born in Japan where she trained in traditional flutes. Emi plays three different types of traditional flutes – Ryuteki, Nohkan and Shinobue. She has been invited to perform with numerous musicians since she moved to the UK in 1995.

Okkyung Lee

Okkyung Lee is a cellist, composer, and improviser who moves freely between of artistic disciples and contingencies. Since moving to New York in 2000 she has worked in disparate contexts as a solo artist and collaborator with creators in a wide range of disciplines. A native of South Korea, Lee has taken a broad array of inspirations—including noise, improvisation, jazz, western classical, and the traditional and popular music of her homeland—and used them to forge a highly distinctive approach. Her curiosity and a determined sense of exploration guide the work she has made in disparate contexts.

Even though she is probably known best for her improvisational work utilizing visceral extended techniques for more than a decade, from 2010 Lee started developing many site specific works, responding to its architecture, audience, or objects surrounding her, producing an immersive experience. Most recently she presented Hutton Sori composed for cello and computer generated sounds at Der Sommer in Stuttgart Festival, and Grey Shooting Stars (for Yun Dong-Ju) for cello and pre-recorded sound materials at Bludenzer Tage Zeitgemächer Musik in Austria which involved breaking the fourth wall between the performer and the audience thus challenging the built in hierarchy in traditional concert setting. At Villa Medici for her presentation, Okkyung will continue explore the space in the similar manner while continue breaking away from the conventional cello performance. 

She has appeared on more than 30 albums, including a diverse variety of recordings as a leader, whether the acclaimed solo improvisation effort Ghil, produced by Norwegian sound artist Lasse Marhaug for Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego, or composition-driven collections like Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer), released by Tzadik. In 2018 she released Cheol-Kkot-Sae (Steel.Flower.Bird), an ambitious piece drawing upon free improvisation and traditional Korean music that was commissioned for the 2016 Donaueschingen Festival by SWR2, where she collaborated with western improvisers Marhaug, John Butcher, Ches Smith, and John Edwards along with Pansori vocalist Song-Hee Kwon and traditional percussionist Jae-Hyo Chang. She also leads an intricately nuanced Yeo-Neun Quartet featuring harpist Maeve Gilchrist, pianist Jacob Sacks, and bassist Eivind Opsvik that explores the lyrical side of her writing. 

Over the last two decades Okkyung has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Arca, David Behrman, Chris Corsano, Mark Fell, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Hval, Vijay Iyer, Christian Marclay, Bill Orcutt, Marina Rosenfeld, and John Zorn among others. In recent years she’s performed in equally varied contexts, whether embarking on an extended tour with the legendary experimental rock band Swans or collaborating with visual artist Haroon Mizra.

 As a curator Lee has programmed concert series at the Stone in New York, the Music Unlimited Festival in Wels, Austria, and at the Jazz House (recently renamed Alice) in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2015 she was selected as a Doris Duke Performing Artist in 2015, and she has been awarded residencies at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy in 2015 and Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany in 2017. She has been commissioned to compose music and assemble projects for Time Spans Festival in New York, Amsterdam’s Maze Ensemble, Borealis Festival in Bergen, Norway, Nam June Paik Art Center, Korea and Pub Crawl I & II for the London Sinfonietta as part of a Christian Marclay exhibition at White Cube Gallery.

She received a dual bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and a master’s degree in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music in 2000.