Wednesday 10 November 2021, 7.30pm
Shifa, from the Arabic word for healing, is a new trio born out of old musical partnerships from the ever-shifting sands of the UK improvised music scene. Pat Thomas, pianist extraordinaire whose eclectic motherboard pushes the music in unexpected twists and turns, suggested the name. The healing, in this case, is a raw, unfettered musical space where he, saxophonist Rachel Musson and drummer Mark Sanders meet and make music in the moment, of the moment. Each player values the others’ ability to dive in deep, and demands that they each remain fully present to where the music needs to evolve next. The palette includes a mutual history in jazz, elements of classical, folk and pulling notes apart to allow sonic textures to come into focus.
The trio has released two albums on Brooklyn-based 577 Records, both to critical acclaim. The second album, Live in Oslo, was described by All About Jazz (Mike Jurkovic) as, 'true mind-meld of London's free-jazz highest order.' Their first performance at Cafe Oto was captured on vinyl, and Downbeat's (Josef Woodard) four star review described the performance as, 'At its core, this music manages to be both unhinged and with a collective purpose.'
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
Rachel Musson is a saxophonist, improviser and composer living in London, UK. She is involved with a variety of improvisation projects, and works regularly with Mark Sanders, Pat Thomas, Hannah Marshall, Julie Kjaer, Corey Mwamba, Olie Brice, Alex Ward, Alex Hawkins amongst others. She features on several releases, including a nonet featuring her composition 'I Went This Way' (577 Records), two with Shifa, feat. Pat Thomas and Mark Sanders, (577 Records), one with Mark Sanders and John Edwards (Two Rivers Records), trio with Liam Noble and Mark Sanders (Babel), and Corey Mwamba (Takuroku).
"A free-improviser sensitive to melody-like narrative and dramatic pacing" – John Fordham, The Guardian
Mark has worked with a host of renowned musicians including Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Mathew Shipp, Evan Parker, Roswell Rudd, in duo and quartets with Wadada Leo Smith and trios with Charles Gayle with Sirone and William Parker.
In situations using composition Mark works in a number of projects including Christian Marclay’s Everyday for film and live music and John Butcher’s Tarab Cuts - both projects have performed major festivals throughout Europe and Brazil. He has performed works by guitarist John Coxon in Glasgow and Sydney playing with the Scottish and Sydney Symphony Orchestras. With New York’s ICE Ensemble he has performed John Zorn’s The Tempest in London and at Huddersfield New Music Festival.
Mark also works in the groups of Paul Dunmall including Deep Whole Trio with Paul Rogers, and the ensembles of Sarah Gail Brand, including a long-standing duo. He has a lengthy discography including a solo album, has performed internationally and played at major festivals including, Nickelsdorf, Ulrichsburg, Womad and notably at Glastonbury with legendary saxophonist John Tchicai.
"ubiquitous, diverse and constantly creative, drummer Mark Sanders always outdoes himself, whether playing with restraint or erupting like a dynamo." Bruce L Gallenter, Downtown Music Gallery. NY