Sunday 18 August 2019, 7.30pm
Strange Umbrellas are unique events of experimental music, free improvisation, film and art in London and elsewhere.
It was founded in 2013 by artist & curator Blanca Regina and free improviser & composer Steve Beresford. Later they were joined by experimental musician & musicologist Jack Goldstein and film curator & visual artist Pierre Bouvier Patron.
- Steve Beresford & Crystabel Riley (piano and electronic & drums)
- Najma Akhtar ( voice and harmonium)
- Art Terry (voice & piano)
- Steven Ball
- cadavre exquis (2019) by Pierre Bouvier Patron & Blanca Regina
- The Bathers Series: Swimmer (1987) by Michael Maziere
- Negative Space (2018) by Laura Trager
During the late naughties Crystabel Riley toured Japan and Europe using drums, electronics and make-up in noise trio Maria and the Mirrors.
This was the start of her interest in patterns on skins - human and drum.
This interest in dimensional patterns existing on (and off) different surfaces has continued to evolve through exploring the idea of 'care and uncare' of the skin, self, others, and the world, across all of Crystabel's practices as an Artist (Make-up, Drum).
Crystabel has been a long term collaborator with Sue Lynch who welcomed her into the Horse Improvised Music Club, where she collaborated with Caroline Krabel, John Edwards, and Steve Beresford who welcomed her into the London Improvisers Orchestra.
She is currently working on the multi-format duo project @xcrswx with Seymour Wright.
NAJMA AKHTAR, British born, vocalist, songwriter and actor, has an important place in music history by introducing Jazz to the traditional genre of the Ghazal (Urdu ballad), thereby creating the new musical genre of World Music.
Having been at the forefront of the World Music scene for two decades, Najma has proved to be a successful and versatile artist, renowned for using modern jazz influences with Indian vocals, creating a beautiful fusion of eastern and western styles, pushing the sound barriers by introducing Blues, Rock and other eclectic influences to new and undiscovered frontiers.
This iconic pioneer’s presence on the World Music scene had led to a new wave of inspired Asian artists of Indian descent following in her footsteps.
She has released eight critically acclaimed solo albums and has collaborated with many world-class artists, as diverse as Jah Wobble, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Andy Summers (The Police), Basement Jaxx, Jethro Tull, Philip Glass and Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart). She was in several musical and creative theatre projects: ‘Bollywood Dreams’ with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tara Arts and the National Theatre. Najma is set to release her new album, ‘Five Rivers’.
Dr MICHAEL MAZIERE is an artist and curator who studied Creative Photography at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic and Film and Television at the Royal College of Art. His practice encompasses the production of artworks, the curation of exhibitions, lecturing and writing about artists' film and video. Maziere is currently a Reader in Film and Video and before joining the University, he was a Research Fellow at the British Artists' Film and Video Study Collection at the University of the Arts, London.
LAURA TRAGER (*1987) holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media-Culture from Bauhaus-University in Weimar, Germany, and a Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School, NYC. With a background in media and cultural theory Laura's artistic and academic interest is film philosophy. After moving to NYC in Summer 2011, she started working in 16mm and Super 8mm film, as well as in digital video, still photography and sound. Since 2015, Laura is based in Hamburg, Germany.
Pierre Bouvier Patron is a visual artist based in London. He is currently working with different media, such as digital video and film, exploring the boundaries between them and creating moving image works, performances and installations. He has developed various practices and skills in experimental film, documentary films, music videos, etc.
He is involved in video screenings and video performances, solo or in collaboration, with musicians such as Syd Kemp, Steve Beresford, Neil Charles and artist Blanca Regina, among others. His work has been shown in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, etc.
His latest works include Unpredictable: Conversations with Improvisers, a series of 12 videos about improvisers in the UK, music videos for Ben Marc. His work also includes extensive participation with collectives such as Unpredictable Series, Strange Umbrellas, and several festivals such as Sonic Waterloo, Art of Improvisers, Alterations Festivals.
Steve Beresford has been a central figure in the British and international spontaneous music scenes for over forty years, freely improvising on the piano, electronics, and other things with people like Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, John Zorn, and Alterations (with David Toop, Terry Day and Peter Cusack).
He has written songs, written for large and small ensembles, and scored short films, feature films, TV shows, and commercials. He was part of the editorial teams of Musics and Collusion magazines, writes about music in various contexts, and was a senior lecturer in music at the University of Westminster. With Blanca Regina, he is part of Unpredictable Series, which produces events and sound and video recordings of experimental music and art.
Steve has worked with Christian Marclay on numerous Marclay mixed media pieces. He has also worked with The Slits, Najma Akhtar, Stewart Lee, Ivor Cutler, Prince Far-I, Alan Hacker, Tania Chen, Ray Davies, Mandhira De Saram, The Flying Lizards, Zeena Parkins, The Portsmouth Sinfonia, Ilan Volkov, Rachel Musson, Vic Reeves, Lore Lixenberg and many others.
Beresford has an extensive discography as performer, arranger, free-improviser, composer and producer, and was awarded a Paul Hamlyn award for composers in 2012. In 2021, Bloomsbury published a book by Andy Hamilton: ‘Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise: Conversations with Steve Beresford’.
Blanca Regina is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, and educator based in London currently involved in creating audio-visual performances, sound works, installations, films, and book arts.
She is co-founder of Unpredictable Series focused on spontaneous music and experimentation, visual arts, and archives. With Steve Beresford, she has produced three albums, mixed and mastered by Dave Hunt in London. ‘What Blue’ (2020) Duets with Beresford; ‘Duets with Blanca Regina, Spontaneous Music’ featuring duets with Leafcutter John, Jack Goldstein, John Butcher, Benedict Taylor, Matthias Kispert, Aneek Thapar, Steve Beresford, Sharon Gal, and Hyelim Kim and ‘Art of Improvisers’ (2017) a collection album with several artists concentrating on women improvisers. With long-time collaborator and artist Leafcutter John capturing their live performances in 2017, they created ‘Miga’ limited-edition pen drive and digital release. Other collaborations include performances and projects with Matthias Kispert, David Toop, Matt Black (Coldcut), Art Terry, and Peter Cusack.
Art Terry is a songwriter/musician from Los Angeles. His songs explore sexuality, black politics and religion, through a lyrical fusion of psychedelic folk music and orchestrated funk. A singer and pianist, Art underpins deeply personal lyrics with dense melodic textures.
He presents 'Is Black Music' on Resonance FM: an alternative music radio show featuring Black folk, country and avant garde classical music.
Brought up in the gospel tradition – from which he was ejected for singing wild salacious songs – Art evokes the figure of the robed and commanding preacher in his live performances. Whether playing solo or with his collective of musicians, the Black Bohemians, his live performances are theatrical and compelling.
Art collaborates with the artist Stew, who created the musical Passing Strange, exploring his and Art’s youthful experiences on the seamy streets of downtown Los Angeles and in Europe, living in squats and art collectives and surviving on a diet of shoplifted food, hashish and freaky music. Passing Strange was made into a film by Spike Lee.
'Art Terry has a vivid element of meta-theatre as well as a broad sound palette, and he remains a genre of his own.' - Kevin LeGendre, BBC Radio 3
'An amazing album, jaw-dropping for its deceptive simplicity' - review of Art Terry's Sex Madness album in THE WIRE
Steven Ball has worked in film, video, sound, and installation since the 1980s. His early practice combined super 8 film and video, and more recently encompasses digital audio-visual media, in exhibition, online and live, audio-visual and spoken-word performance. He also writes, performs, and releases music, both as a solo artist and as a member of The Storm Bugs. In the last few years he has concentrated on writing and recording suites of songs, which have been described by Radio Free Midwich as “…the missing link between reductionist improv and the intimate breathy song cycles of a Robert Wyatt.” His latest album ‘Bastard Island’ (Linear Obsessional 2019) is a collection of speculative fiction dispatches from spatio-temporally ambiguous elsewheres and elsewhens. For Strange Umbrellas he will perform new and recent songs.