"Many look to AMM's past for clues of a tenor which, based on the group's intent to explore the future, is ironic: like a Fluxus poem, the history of AMM is right now, and the present is a curious one. Working for years as a duo, founder Eddie Prévost and John Tilbury (joined in 1980) augment this set with former member Christian Wolff on bass guitar, piano and melodica, cellist Ute Kanngiesser and John Butcher on sax. The results are terrific but understandably varied, the crew abstaining from abrasive angst in favor of mature methods of subversion during this 52-minute performance." - Dave Madden
John Butcher / tenor and soprano saxophones
Ute Kanngiesser / cello
John Tilbury / piano
Christian Wolff / piano, bass guitar and melodica
Edwin (Eddie) Prévost / percussion
Recorded at the 'Freedom of the City' festival, Conway Hall, London on Sunday the 3rd of May, 2009
Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC
Eddie Prévost plays with immense fire, grace and invention. Founder of the essential AMM, collaborator of the greatest improvisers internationally, since the 60's he has kept a continuous contact with the scene and always manages to invent anew his contribution to "meta-music".
“Prévost's free drumming flows superbly making use of his formidable technique. It’s as though there has never been an Elvin Jones or Max Roach.” - Melody Maker
“Relentlessly innovative yet full of swing and fire.” – Morning Star
“For over 10 years, I have only played unscripted/improvised music. I have experimented with the sound of the cello, limiting myself to the alive material at hand: vast and complicated layers within the instrument and myself; and to let this music evolve continuously in relationship with others. It relates to the process of uncovering an endless multiplicity of coexisting sense perspectives. And it deals with the energy that this gives rise to. For me, it is the most exciting place to play music from.”
John Tilbury is renowned for his peerless interpretation of the piano music of Morton Feldman, John Cage, Christian Wolff and Howard Skempton. In addition to the performances and seminal recordings that he has made of these composers’ works, he has been an eloquent advocate of their music in his writing and speaking about them. The same is true of the attention he has paid to the music and ideas of Cornelius Cardew, the subject of his authoritative biography published in 2008, and with whom he played in the legendary improvisation groups the Scratch Orchestra and AMM. In the last ten years John Tilbury has performed a range of plays and prose pieces by Samuel Beckett.
Christian Wolff emerged in the 1950s on the New York experimental music scene and became a prominent champion of the aesthetics of musical indeterminism. His works, which became increasingly explicit in their political content as his career progressed, stress choice, artistic co-operation and interdependence, and an accommodating attitude toward the potential relationships between music, sound and silence. Wolff studied classics and comparative literature at Harvard University. Though active as a pianist and electric guitarist throughout his career, he was largely self-taught as a composer, and from the beginning his works relied more on careful aesthetic design than compositional “craft” in the traditional sense. Although his works of the 1950s already conveyed a decidedly “democratic” subtext, with their reliance on freedom and reaction (“parliamentary participation”), they did so through traditional notation and sometimes invoked, however obscurely, traditional forms. The flexibility of their realisations owed to Cage’s influence, while their sparse surfaces recalled Webern, and in some cases resonated with La Monte Young’s early works. His compositions from the late 1950s and 1960s placed increased effort on real-time cooperation between performers, who worked somewhat freely, within certain set parameters (set durations with unspecified pitches, for example), but were required to alter their performative decisions consequent to each other’s actions. Later works turned inwards to more specifically musical topics, perhaps due in part to Wolff’s somewhat self-effacing assessment of the composer’s role. As he observed in a 1991 interview: “Most political music, paradoxically enough, is for the converted; it’s an instrument of cohesion for a group that already knows what it wants.” – Jeremy Grimshaw, Allmusic
Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, Rhodri Davies, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Eddie Prevost, John Stevens’ SME, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, and Okkyung Lee.
Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Matthew Shipp.
Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.
“English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.” – New York City Jazz Record.