Wednesday 4 September 2019, 7.30pm

Photo by Dawid Laskowski

Han Bennink / Peter Brötzmann (duo) + Alexander von Schlippenbach (solo) + Peter Brötzmann / Heather Leigh (duo)

For the first night of our Peter Brötzmann Festival we host a programme featuring collaborators old and new. Peter has been playing with both Han Bennink and Alexander von Schlippenbach since the 70's, crafting an interplay that draws on a vast reserve of history and experience that still retains an incredible ability to surprise and excite.

Remarkably, given how many fantastic shows that both have contributed to at OTO, this will be the first ever duo performance with Peter and Han here. A seminal grouping responsible for a clutch of classic recordings, including Ein Halber Hund Kann Nicht Pinkeln and Schwarzwaldfahrt, Peter and Han have always been able to draw the best out of each other and this should be an unmissable performance. Alongside this, Alexander von Schlippenbach performs a solo piano set ahead of his equally rare trio set with Peter and Han tomorrow night.

Closing out the evening will be Peter's duo with Heather Leigh, a collaboration which both seem to have exulted in since they first played together in 2015. Dense, unflinching and always unpredictable the pair craft an all-enveloping, sembiotic soundworld that demands your attention from the get-go.

Peter Brötzmann

Peter Brötzmann is one of the most important and uncompromising figures in free jazz and has been at the forefront of developing a unique, European take on free improvisation since the 1960s. 

Brötzmann first trained as a painter and was associated with Fluxus (Participating in various events and working as an assistant to Nam Jun Paik) before dissatisfaction with the art world moved his focus towards music. However he continued to paint and his instantly recognisable visual sensibility has produced some of our favourite LP sleeves as well as a number of gallery shows in recent years. 

Self-taught on Clarinet and Saxophone, Brötzmann established himself as one of the most powerful and original players around, releasing a number of now highly sought after sides of musical invention including the epochal 'Machine Gun' session in 1968 - originally released on his own Brö private press and later recordings for FMP (Free Music Production) the label he started with Jost Gebers. Brötzmann's sound is "one of the most distinctive, life-affirming and joyous in all music" and he has performed with almost all of the major players of free music from early associations with Don Cherry and Steve Lacy to regular groupings with Peter Kowald, Alex Von Slippenbach, Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove, the Chicago Tentet (Mats Gustafsson/Joe McPhee/Ken Vandermark and more) and various one-off and ad hoc associations with many others including Keiji Haino, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton and Rashied Ali. 

Han Bennink

Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Han Bennink was born in Zaandam near Amsterdam in 1942. His first percussion instrument was a kitchen chair. Later his father, an orchestra percussionist, supplied him with a more conventional outfit, but Han never lost his taste for coaxing sounds from unlikely objects he finds backstage at concerts. He is still very fond of playing chairs.

In Holland in the 1960s, Bennink was quickly recognized as an uncommonly versatile drummer. As a hard swinger in the tradition of his hero Kenny Clarke, he accompanied touring American jazz stars, including Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, Wes Montgomery, Johnny Griffin, Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon. He is heard with Gordon on the 1969 album "Live at Amsterdam Paradiso" (on the Affinity label) and with Dolphy on 1964s "Last Date" (PolyGram). At the same time, Bennink participated in the creation of a European improvised music which began to evolve a new identity, apart from its jazz roots. With fellow Dutch pioneers, pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Willem Breuker, he founded the musicians collective Instant Composers Pool in 1967. Bennink anchored various bands led by Mengelberg or Breuker, and appeared in their comic music-theater productions.

Bennink attended art school in the 1960s, and is also a successful visual artist in several media, often constructing sculpture from found objects, which may include broken drum heads and sticks. He has designed the covers for many LPs and CDs on which he appears. Bennink is represented by Amsterdam's Galerie Espace, and has been the subject of several one-man shows, including one at the Gemeente Museum in the Hague in 1995... [more]

Alex von Schlippenbach

Well known - in improvising circles - for his trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens and as constant moving force behind the Globe Unity Orchestra, Alex von Schlippenbach's involvement with the music spans over 30 years and, inevitably, many other associations.

Schlippenbach started to play piano from the age of 8 and went on to study composition at Cologne under Bernd Alois Zimmermann. While studying he started to play with Manfred Schoof. At the age of 28 he founded the Globe Unity Orchestra. In 1988, he founded the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, a big band that has over the years comprised, among others, Willem Breuker, Paul Lovens, Misha Mengelberg, Evan Parker, Schlippenbach's wife Aki Takase and Kenny Wheeler. In 1994 he was awarded the Albert Mangelsdorff prize.

Schlippenbach has produced various recordings and worked for German radio channels. He played with many players of the European free jazz community. In 2005 he recorded the complete works of Thelonious Monk, which were released on CD as Monk's Casino.

Heather Leigh

The daughter of a coal miner, weaving a trail from West Virginia to Texas and now residing in Scotland, Heather Leigh furthers the vast unexplored reaches of pedal steel guitar. Her playing is as physical as it is phantom, combining spontaneous compositions with a feel for the full interaction of flesh with hallucinatory power sources. With a rare combination of sensitivity and strength, Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar and deforms it using hypnotic tone-implosions, juggling walls of bleeding amp tone with choral vocal constructs and wrenching single note ascensions. In recent years Leigh has been touring the world extensively as a solo artist following the release of her studio album, ‘I Abused Animal’ on Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego and in BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH, a duo with Peter Brötzmann, who have released 2 albums, ‘Ears Are Filled With Wonder’ and ‘Sex Tape’ on Trost. A new BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH studio LP/CD is forthcoming in 2018 and she’s currently working on a new solo LP for Editions Mego.