"At last, the vinyl reissue of this masterwork, adding two hitherto unreleased gems recorded solo for Charles Fox’s Radio 3 programme Jazz in Britain, in the same few months of 1980 as the stunning Aida performances.
The phrase ‘in the moment’ is often bandied about with reference to free improvisation, and indeed there’s no better way to describe Derek Bailey’s playing. The acoustic guitar is notoriously lacking in natural reverberation — notes barely hang in the air for a couple of seconds before they disappear — which explains the almost non-stop flow of new material in these stellar performances. Bailey knew from one split-second to the next exactly where to find the same pitch on different strings, either as a stopped tone or a ringing harmonic, and there’s never a note out of place. ‘He who kisses the joy as it flies,’ in the words of William Blake, ‘Lives in eternity’s sunrise’ — and this music is forever in the moment, constantly active but never gabby, kissing the joy.
One of the special pleasures of the BBC set is the guitarist’s own laconic commentary, a deliciously deadpan description of what he’s doing while he’s doing it — “I like to think of it… as a kind of music” — and the interaction between words and music is a particular delight. “You may have noticed a certain lack of variety,” he quips, while unleashing a furiously complex volley. Is it a coincidence that the final seconds recall the famous cycling fifths of the coda to Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight? Surely not — for Bailey, like Monk, was a note man par excellence. And they’re both still alive and well in eternity’s sunrise." - Honest Jon's
Derek Bailey – Aida
The third release in a series of collaborations between Honest Jon's Records and Incus: a reissue of Derek Bailey & Han Bennink, originally released in 1972. The tussling vegetables in Mal Dean's cover-sketch somehow befit perfectly this extraordinary duo of Bailey and the great Dutch drummer Han Bennink. Recorded in London in 1972, Incus 9 was their second record (after an Instant Composers Pool in 1969), becoming a blueprint and inspiration for generations of free-improvisers. It is paired here with a brilliant session from the following year, with the same power and friendly combativeness, and oodles of creativity, technique, and humor. It's obvious how much they loved playing together. Newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, and remastered by Rashad Becker. Available exclusively for download here.
Derek Bailey / guitar, voice
Han Bennink / percussion, saw, reeds, brass, strings, voice
Engineered by Bob Woolford (tracks: A.1.-B.3.). Mastered by Rashad Becker. Cover by Mal Dean
Derek Bailey & Han Bennink – Derek Bailey & Han Bennink
"Reissue of Derek Bailey and Tristan Honsinger Duo, originally released by Incus in 1976. Born in Burlington, Vermont, and conservatory-trained in the US, the cellist Tristan Honsinger moved from Montreal to Amsterdam in 1974, quickly linking with Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg and opening a long and fruitful musical relationship with Derek Bailey.
Recorded in 1976, Duo displays a performative musical approach already characterized by the lack of inhibition which would later endear him to The Pop Group: he is knockabout, exclamatory, explosively rhythmic; burping Bach and folk melodies with spasmodic lyricism, in amongst the garrulous textures and accents of his scraping, bowing, and plucking, and gibbering like a monkey; throwing out his arms and stamping the floor, grappling with his instrument like an expert clown, always tripping himself up. You can hear Bailey reveling in the company, as he ranges between scrabbling solidarity and an askance skewering of his partner's antics, on prepared (nineteen-string) and standard electric guitars -- and a Waisvisz Crackle-box, for the garbled, quizzical, cross-species natter which closes "The Shadow".
Throughout, the spirited interplay between laconic, analytic wit, and guttural, sometimes slapstick physicality is consistently droll, often laugh-out-loud funny; vigorously alert, alive, and gripping.”
Tristan Honsigner / cello, voice
Derek Bailey / electric guitar, crackle box
Recorded at Verity's Place 7th February 1976, except for A1 and B2 which were recorded at Tangent Studio 6th February 1976.
Derek Bailey & Tristan Honsinger – Duo
Originally released by Incus in 1974. Recorded at a private house in Catford, south-east London, the side-long title track is a masterwork: a twenty-two-minute, starkly personal, freely expressive, itchily searching re-casting of orders of rhythm and sound into a new, quicksilver kind of affective and musical polyphony. Never mind the guitarist’s championing of ‘non-idiomatic improvisation’, the poet Peter Riley gets the ball rolling in his identification of the various hauntings of Bailey’s playing at this time: ‘mandolins & balalaikas strumming in the distance, George Formby’s banjo, Leadbelly’s steel 12-string, koto, lute, classical guitar… and others quite outside the field of the plucked string.’
The five pieces on side two were recorded back home in Hackney around the same time — with the exception of Improvisation 104(b), from the year before (and issued by Incus in its TAPS series of mini reel-to-reel tapes) — opening with ventriloquised guitar feedback, and taking in some cod banter about colleagues like Mervyn Parker, Siegfried Brotzmann and Harry Bentink. Crucial.
"In 1974, when Derek Bailey was planning his second solo LP on Incus, he decided to include a side-long solo using his stereo electro-acoustic set-up. Unfortunately, he never seemed to have a 20-minute stretch of time free of interruptions in his home, so he asked if he could record it at my place. After a fairly lengthy drive across London on the arranged date, he discovered that he had brought all his gear except the actual guitar. So he had a cup of tea and a chat, then drove home again. He came again about a week later, on May 13th, this time with everything. I set the level too high for the first two takes, not quite allowing for his enormous dynamic range (which really was not suitable for analogue recording and reproduction equipment). The result was too much distortion for his liking. The level was corrected for the third take which was the one used as the title track on the LP, even though he preferred the music on the earlier takes.
All but one of the short pieces on the second side of the LP were recorded by Bob Woolford around the same time, probably at Derek's home. (The exception, 'Improvisation 104(b),' was recorded the previous year and originally released on one of the Incus TAPs -- mini reel-to-reel tapes that were an attempt to bypass the technical problems of going from tape to vinyl. They were reissued by Organ of Corti.) 'Pain In The Chest' and 'In Joke (Take 2)' feature the unamplified 19-string (approx) guitar, which was probably the only instrument that Derek modified -- he otherwise used standard guitars.
There was a shortage of good vinyl at the time, making it difficult to get decent pressings. (The original pressing of the solo Steve Lacy Emanem LP sounded as though it had been recorded in a hail-storm.) We were recommended to go to a pressing plant that specialized in 'classical' music. (At the same time that Derek was trying to get Lot 74 pressed, I was also working on his duo album with Anthony Braxton.) The first test pressing of Lot 74 was very muffled, and we discovered that the cutting engineer had played the tape up-side-down, so that the music had been filtered through the tape backing (used on professional tapes to reduce print-through). The cutting was subsequently redone correctly, resulting in an acceptable test pressing. However, the plant manager was completely incredulous and perplexed, as he was used to checking pressings using his library of scores of Beethoven sonatas and the like. How could he tell if the vocal and feedback howls at the start of side two ('Together') were correct?
Over thirty years later, advances in technology have eliminated most of the technical problems we had then, so that this magnificent music can be heard sounding better than ever. Every so often, I get someone asking me to issue things on vinyl -- my response is usually not very polite." Martin Davidson
Derek Bailey – Lot 74
The second release in a series of collaborations between Honest Jon's Records and Incus: three double-LPs of the legendary free-improvising guitarist Derek Bailey, solo (HJR 200LP) and in duos with Anthony Braxton and Han Bennink(HJR 202LP), augmenting the original releases with marvelous, previously unissued music. Recorded in 1974, at the Royal Hotel in Luton, with Braxton playing soprano and alto saxophones, and Bb and contrabass clarinets. Two volumes were planned; only one was issued, till now. This was an early transatlantic meeting between the leading free improvisers. Many of Braxton's signature techniques and ideas were gestated in such sessions. It still brims with inquisitive musical creativity and knockabout jazzbo allusiveness. Newly transferred from tape at Abbey Road, and remastered by Rashad Becker. Available exclusively for download here.
Derek Bailey / electric guitar
Anthony Braxton / saxophones, clarinets
Recorded during a concert played at the Royal Hotel, Luton, England on July 2, 1974.
Sides 1 and 2 were issued as Royal Volume 1 in 1984; 3 and 4 are released here for the first time by Honest Jons. Thanks to Karen Brookman-Bailey and Tim Fletcher.
Derek Bailey and Anthony Braxton – Royal
Otoroku is extremely proud to present the first vinyl reissue of one of the most legendary free jazz records ever produced. Originally released in 1978 on Ogun recordings, Louis Moholo Octet’s Spirits Rejoice! is a high achievement in the movement of the era as it soars beyond oppression with a raucous and spiritually uplifting surge of movement and melody
Featuring Harry Miller, Johnny Dyani, Keith Tippett, Evan Parker, Nick Evans, Radu Malfatti and Kenny Wheeler, this is former Blue Note artist Louis Moholo’s first album under his own name and is a classic example of the cross-pollination between South African and British players. Mongezi Feza’s ‘You Ain’t Gonna Know Me ‘Cos You Think You Know Me’ alone is enough to make your life a better place.
From Matthew Wright’s new liner notes:
The South African melodies, now so familiar, were wholeheartedly taken on board by the individual musicians, their unity of purpose mirroring the belief in the strength of the collective. Stunning solos, often close to the edge, feature throughout – Evan Parker and Keith Tippett on “Shine Wherever You Are”; the contrasting trombone styles of Nick Evans and Radu Malfatti on “You Ain’t Gonna Know Me...”; the octet sounding like a full big band; and behind them, the relentlessly rhythmic urgency of the piano, bass and drums. Add to this Kenny Wheeler’s moving and all-encompassing trumpet on the elegiac “Amaxesha Osizi” and the joyous flamboyancy of “Wedding Hymn” with Parker’s relatively straight-ahead tenor and Tippett’s dextrous piano solo over a bed of riffing horns, (fast) walking bass lines and a supreme sense of swing. Louis’ early hero, Big Sid Catlett, would have loved it!
This 2019 re-issue has been made with permission and in association with Ogun records. Features an exact reproduction of the original artwork and liner notes along with new liner notes from Matthew Wright. Remastered by Giuseppe IIelasi and packaged in a high gloss sleeve this is the definitive release of one of the absolute free jazz classics of the 20th Century.
Edition of 1000 copies.
Louis Moholo Octet – Spirits Rejoice!
"Ears Are Filled With Wonder, the debut release from the duo of pedal steel player Heather Leigh and reedist Peter Brötzmann, blows the old adage about improvised music somehow not being best appreciated via the recordings to beautiful pieces. This is a music that demands re-visiting, that seems to alter, slightly, every time it is played, with new details emerging, new relationships of tone and style, new romance, even. Recorded during a mammoth stint in Kraków, Poland, where Brötzmann and Leigh played as part of big bands, trios, quartets, and duos, this duo performance represents the diamond heart of the sessions, an improvised set that bears little relation to what either of the players has achieved outside of its prodigious gravity. We mentioned romance and really Ears Are Filled With Wonder, a play on a line from the poet Kenneth Patchen, showcases the full reach of Brötzmann's rebel lyricism, his lover man style, now smoky, seductive, late night, now roaring and vibrating with energy. Leigh plays it extremely subtly, sometimes fixing on the most suggestive detail and from there spinning luscious webs of repeat-time bliss that make for some of the most psychedelic and otherworldly settings of strings and horn. Elsewhere the two of them tear the roof off with tactile fuzz and horn ascensions. It's a music of organic depth, of endlessly evocative unfolding, as themes bloom and sigh and disappear and arise and it feels curiously out of time, even as both players push their instruments into futuristic configurations. As such it doesn't sit neatly in either players' extensive catalogs. . . . Ears Are Filled With Wonder is a coming together of two of the most original voices on their respective instruments and the title reflects the joyful uncovering of a whole new way of listening and relating. Indeed, it might well be the first ever freely improvised electric pedal steel and saxophone duet ever put to tape. Either way it is one of the most startlingly beautiful combinations of players and temperaments to orbit the European jazz scene in years. And this is only the beginning. So hold tight." --Moshe Idel, Ronda, Spain, February 2016
Heather Leigh: pedal steel guitar. Peter Brötzmann: tenor saxophone, bass and B-flat clarinet, tárogató. Recorded November 8, 2015, in Kraków, Poland.
PETER BROTZMANN/HEATHER LEIGH – Ears Are Filled With Wonder
Recorded May 1968 at "Lila Eule", BremenPeter Brötzmann: baritone saxophone, tenor saxophonePeter Kowald: acoustic bassBuschi Niebergall: acoustic bassSven-Ake Johansson: drumsHan Bennink: drumsFred Van Hove: pianoEvan Parker: tenor saxophoneWillem Breuker: tenor saxophoneTHE european Free Jazz album finally re-issued on vinyl. Screenprinted cover.
PETER BRÖTZMANN OCTET – Machine Gun LP
Lieven Martens Moana's first album under his birth name marks an important shift in his oeuvre. While still indebted to the universe created under his moniker Dolphins Into The Future, 'Music From The Guardhouse' shows the Artist reaching the shores of his mental island, fully matured. This is where a new journey begins, a musical research program within the 'composer genre'.
Through literature and landscape painting Martens developed a language that is as close to the personal-spiritual documentary as to contemporary classical music. Quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley in its opening piece ‘Aria, The Cloud’ the tone is set for an intimate but extroverted modernist take on neo-romanticism. The album is conceived as a play for magnetic tape recorder, using field recordings and midi devices as its round characters. Rich musical intertextuality, ranging from Baudelaire to Toru Takemitsu and Messiaen, cleverly chaperones the theatre of sound, emphasizing every shift and every detail while still allowing time and space for reflection between the acts. More than ever Martens’s work is the result of a deep process of enlightening. It shows the becoming of a mediating poet who summons the spirits of Nature, of the Sensual, of the Unspoken. A quatrain of Emerson is whispered in a ghost appearance: All day the waves assailed the rock, / I heard no church bell chime; / The sea-beat scorns the minster clock / And breaks the glass of Time. All along the deliberately chosen archaisms are beautifully transcended, making these compositions a constant game of question and answer between past and present, between man and Art. This album lays bare modern man’s need of myth, of classic beauty. If it were up to us, ‘Music From The Guardhouse’ should be regarded a corner stone, a blue print for the future of composition to come, a lecture in honesty and depth.
Lieven Martens Moana – Music From The Guardhouse
Maryanne Amacher (1938 - 2009) was a composer of large-scale fixed-duration sound installations and a highly original thinker in the areas of perception, sound spatialization, creative intelligence, and aural architecture. She is frequently cited as a pioneer of what has come to be called “sound art,” although her thought and creative practice consistently challenge key assumptions about the capacities and limitations of the genre. Amacher’s work anticipates some of the most important developments in network culture, media arts, acoustic ecology, and sound studies, yet due to its expansive interdisciplinary nature it has rarely been documented. Following two CDs for Tzadik and her inclusion in the monumental collection OHM: The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music (1948-1980), this publication of Amacher’s 1991 piece Petramarks her first commercially available instrumental work as well as the first time her music has ever been available on vinyl.
Petra was originally commissioned for the ISCM World Music Days in Switzerland. Written for two pianos, the piece is a unique example of Amacher’s late work, a direct extension of her working methodologies for electronic composition taken into an acoustic realm that alludes to the music of Giacinto Scelsi and Galina Ustvolskaya. Petra is a sweeping, durational work based on both Amacher’s impressions of the church in Boswil where the piece was premiered and science-fiction writer Greg Bear’s short story of the same name, in which gargoyles come to life and breed with humans in a post-apocalyptic Notre Dame.
This solemn interpretation of Petra was recorded at its 2017 American premiere at New York’s St. Peter’s Episcopal Church with pianists Marianne Schroeder, who originally performed the piece alongside Amacher in 1991, and Stefan Tcherepnin, who performed it alongside Schroeder in 2012 at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. Weighing tranquilizing passages of glacially-paced serenity against stretches of dilapidated, jagged dissonance, the recording illuminates a crucial node in the constellation of Amacher’s enigmatic oeuvre.
Artistic director of the Giacinto Scelsi Festival in Basel, Marianne Schroeder is a Swiss composer and pianist specializing in the interpretation of New Music. She has collaborated with and premiered work by John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Dieter Schnebel, Anthony Braxton, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros and Giacinto Scelsi, with whom she studied. She is currently a professor at Hochschule der Künste Bern, and has also taught at the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt.
Stefan Tcherepnin is an American electronic music performer, contemporary artist, and composer in fourth generation, continuing the family heritage of his great-grandfather Nicholas, grandfather Alexander, and father Ivan Tcherepnin. As a family friend of Amacher’s and a student of hers at Bard College he is uniquely qualified to navigate the labyrinth of Amacher interpretation.
Maryanne Amacher – Petra LP
O YAMA O explores a certain domestic and democratic quality of everyday life, born through associations to folk music of Japan and a folding of myth, tradition, and routine; the non-spectacular and the sublime. Formed of musician and artist Rie Nakajima and Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto, the group has performed since 2014 at venues and festivals such as noshowspace, Ikon Gallery, Wysing Arts Centre, Supernormal, Borealis Festival, Mayhem, and allEars Festival. Nakajima’s performance often focuses on the use of found and kinetic objects, using modest items such as rice bowls, toys, clockwork, balloons and small motors as instruments to create a “micro orchestra”. Elements are layered into impressive and immersive atmospheres. Yamamoto alternatively floats and charges through this with body and voice; chanting, incanting, thundering, whispering, stamping on the floor. Their debut album consolidates their musical conversations into keenly paced studio music, the duo working with additional instrumentation and a resolved focus on melody to provide vivid portraits of folkloric Japan in song. They move between pop and the philosophical, defined by the overall space afforded to texture and movement. In small, delicate sound an intimate musical climate is established that reflects on life, telling stories of improvised clockwork, whispered dreams, small movements of the hand and the rhythm to be found in the shuffle of a deck of cards. Grandly theatric and dramatic flourishes add solidity to these illustrations, operas driven by the swooping energy and power of Yamamoto’s voice can be playful or emotionally charged, particularly when the duo arrange themselves in ensemble with violinist Billy Steiger and percussionist Marie Roux. Production by David Cunningham creates the shadowy presence of a leftfield Flying Lizards dubwise depth that adds subtle strangeness to the atmosphere. The result is something raw, full-bodied; full of energy, grace and mystery.
O Yama O – O Yama O LP
Following on from the re-issue of Topography of the Lungs, OTOROKU is proud to follow up with another legendary free-improvised document, this one from the duo of Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, originally released on the INCUS label in 1975
"The London Concert is one of those rare recordings that capture musicians at a special moment of confluence, a moment when procedures are proving fruitful and before practice has hardened into dogma, when different visions are not yet turned into position papers (insert your list here). There are clearly moments in the London Concert when things that have not precisely happened before emerge from one partner, are caught and supported by the other in a way that, too, is still new 40 some years on, and which prods the initiator to hold and develop a particular line with the clear support of the other." - Stuart Broomer
The London Concert comes in a limited edition of 500 copies printed on reverse board with printed inner sleeve and newly commissioned liner notes by Stuart Broomer
Derek Bailey / Evan Parker - The London Concert LP
"Combining visual strategies, free improvisation, UK garage and punk, Still House Plants build melodic hierarchies scaffolded around ambiguities and intimacy. Fresh from being selected for the OTO Projects UK Artists Fund, and following two sold out tapes on Glasgow label GLARC, the trio’s debut LP 'Long Play' collects their group's raw guitar-drum-vocal palette and stretches it to include violin, piano and intimate home recording. Ranging from seconds-long to seven:minute:somethings, the album coagulates to form a heady meld of rudimentary phrases, kinetic repetition and malleable samples. Experimental songwriting is rarely so forthcoming, emotive, or approachable."
"A genuinely challenging and beautiful album." - Stewart Smith
Jessica Hickie-Kallenbach / vocals
Finlay Clark / guitar, piano, violin
David Kennedy / drums
Recorded by Ronan Fay at Green Door Studios, Glasgow, April 2018. Mixed by Ronan Fay. Mastered by Katie Tavini. Artwork by Still House Plants.
Still House Plants - Long Play
To celebrate the announcement of our Peter Brötzmann Festival we're offering a special bundle deal on the three LP's that Peter has put out through our in-house OTOROKU label.
- BROETZMANN / EDWARDS / NOBLE - THE WORSE THE BETTER (LP)
- BROETZMANN / PARKER / DRAKE - SONG SENTIMENTALE (LP)
- BROETZMANN / ADASIEWICZ / EDWARDS / NOBLE – MENTAL SHAKE (LP)
PETER BROETZMANN – 3 LP BUNDLE
Keiji Haino, one of the foremost exponents of the Japanese avant-garde, always provides a masterclass in constantly shifting improvisation. John Butcher is a saxophonist of rare grace and power, who has expanded the vocabulary of the saxophone far beyond the conventions of jazz and other musics, to encompass a staggering range of multiphonics, overtones, percussive sounds, and electronic feedback.
Haino and Butcher met when Butcher opened for Fushitsusha at the show Cafe OTO arranged at St. John, Hackney - 5 years ago. In 2016 they were invited to play two duo concerts – at The Empty Gallery in Hong Kong and at Cafe OTO in London.
Otoroku is proud to present the audio documentation of their first UK meeting. Recorded live at Cafe OTO in July 2016 the results are an uncompromising milieu of swirling sound played out as a total union of these two legendary performers. Haino’s blues drenched guitar entices skittering notes from Butcher’s sax playing as numerous sonic clues unravel over the course of of this unique and compelling journey.
Light Never Bright Enough comes in a limited edition of 500 LPs and 500 CDs with matt sleeves and japanese removable obi-strip.
Keiji Haino / vocal, guitar, flutes
John Butcher / saxophones and feedback
Recorded live at Cafe OTO on the 9th July 2016 by Luca Consonni. Mixed by John Butcher. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi. Photography and design by ORGAN.
HAINO KEIJI / JOHN BUTCHER - LIGHT NEVER BRIGHT ENOUGH
1,000 copies in yellow vinyl. Singing songs while playing ding dongs, Charlemagne Palestine’s solo voice over the bells of his studio carillon is a premiere in his recorded works, and possibly the first voice/carillon record in musical history. All the little shamanic stuffed deities inhabiting the carillon added their souls to the spirit of the reverberating songs, including a song in memory of Mika Vainio.
Charlemagne Palestine - Dinggg Donggg Dinggg Vs Singgg Songg Singgg LP
Before the spectral, romantic electric guitar miniatures for which he is celebrated today, Loren Connors recorded a string of nine solo acoustic guitar improvisations under the name of Loren Mazzacane between 1979 and 1980. The records feature Loren’s contorted impressions of Delta and country blues, persistently kneaded into sidelong guitar excursions entangled with wordless, mournful vocal utterances, hummed and moaned in imitation of the dogs that often howled outside his window. Originally released on Loren’s own Daggett Records—named after the street he lived on in New Haven, Connecticut—these LPs slipped into obscurity after Daggett’s distributor went bankrupt, forcing the guitarist, who didn’t have a car, to dispose of their unsold stock rather than drag the records home without transportation. Now, thanks to a recording found by Tommy McCutchon of Unseen Worlds, Blank Forms presents the tenth volume of the series. Recorded in Woodstock, New York in front of a live audience at the Creative Music Studio (the improvised music nonprofit founded by Karl Berger, Ornette Coleman, and Ingrid Sertso), Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10 provides a welcome addition to the canon of Loren’s early solo releases and is the first contemporary vinyl publication of material from his Daggett Street period. As with the original Daggett records, the LP is issued in handmade covers with paste-on art featuring a replica of a recent drawing included in Loren’s October 2018 art exhibition Wildweeds, presented by Blank Forms.
One of the world’s most singular guitarists, Loren Connors is among few living musicians whose prolific body of work can be said to be wholly justified in its plenitude. On more than 100 records across almost four decades on labels like Table of the Elements, Drag City, Ecstatic Yod, and his own Daggett Records, Connors has wrung distinct shades of ephemeral blues from his guitar, its sound ever-shifting while remaining unmistakably his own. From his early, splintered take on the Delta bottleneck style through his song-based albums with Suzanne Langille and on to the painterly abstraction that defines his current work, Connors has earned the admiration of many, leading to collaborations with the likes of John Fahey, Jim O’Rourke, Keiji Haino, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Alan Licht, and Jandek.
Loren Connors – Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations Vol. 10 LP
Dedicated to the memory of Tony Marsh
The recordings on this double LP are taken from the first night of Roscoe Mitchell's inaugural two day residency at Cafe OTO in 2012 and his first time playing with drummer Tony Marsh and double bassist John Edwards.
It was one of those nights where the music electrifies the room. Everyone on edge. Everything alive with the possibilities.
Although there was much talk after the concert of the group playing together again this would sadly be the first and last time the trio would play. Tony passed away unexpectedly just a few weeks later making this his last documented performance and a fitting tribute to a truly great drummer and percussionist.
Roscoe Mitchell is one of the most important saxophonists and composers of the 20th Century. Active since the 1960s as a bandleader, mentor, collaborator and teacher. Mitchell was a founding member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago. He has been a pivotal figure in the collective re-imagining of what is possible in jazz, improvisation and beyond combining an instantly recognisable sound on the saxophone with staggering technique (check the lengthy stretch of sustained circular breathing on SIDE C) and an arresting, fractured melodic sensibility.
On this date he quickly realised he was in the company of two musicians who could match his vision and create music that is more than the sum of its parts.
John Edwards is a vital presence in London's creative music community. A true virtuoso, his staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role.
No one else played or plays drums like Tony Marsh. Richard Williams had previously described Tony's "marvelous ability to erase the boundary between time and no-time" and here, on the jerry-rigged suspended percussion set-up he'd developed (no kick or hi-hats) he opens up a beautifully resonant space, quietly directing the pulse whilst allowing you to fully hear the upper-register harmonic detail and flickering pizzicato of John Edward's bass. You'd be hard pressed to hear anything in the playing that would hint at his shock passing only a month later.
"Listen closely, take a chance, keep going even if money's tight, and you'll find the real reward – that's why Tony was hip in the most meaningful sense … And he didn't need to play loud, or be loud, to get that intensity. It's like splitting diamonds or something. If you know exactly the right place to make the impact, you don't need to hit anything hard." - Evan Parker
(Quoted in John Fordham's Obituary for Marsh)
Roscoe Mitchell / Tony Marsh / John Edwards - Improvisations