"At each concert that I have ever given ( quite a few) at Cafe Oto I have tried to do something different or at least with a different line up.
This concert in 2017 I was lucky enough to be able to call on two long time collaborators in Pat Thomas and Tim Hill, one that I have never played with before, Orphy Robinson and Michael Thieke with whom I have collaborated with both in Rome and Berlin on a few occasions in recent years.
This concert was another version of my Spirit Songs collection of text made by cutting up Thomas Pynchon’s two novels, Gravity’s Rainbow and V, and singing them over a freely improvised score. There are a few versions, obviously all different and it was a great pleasure for me to have this group to help me help indulge in yet another version.
Thank you and thanks to Cafe Oto for being. The text/poem ‘Rum’ is by the great poet trumpet player Shake Keane and is from an edition of his collected poetry work titled The Angel Horn published by The House Of Nehesi, that I picked up in St.Lucia. I particularly liked this poem because it reminded me of The Caribbean Club in Reading where I learned to love many things including the sound of dominos being played on sunday in the back bar by the elders.
William Burroughs said something like ‘Cut into the present and the future will appear.’ The future will be improvised and the subtext will be cut up, re-arranged and tweeted I am sure."
Mike Cooper - Lap Steel Guitar / Electronics / Vocals and All Song Text Apart from Lord Franklin (traditional)
Pat Thomas - Keyboards / Electronics
Orphy Robinson - Midi Vibraphone / Electronics
Tim Hill - Baritone and Alto Saxophones / Electronics
Michael Thieke - Clarinet.
Recorded by Tom Mudd at Cafe OTO on 29.9.17
Mixed and mastered by Oliver Barrett
2. Steel ladder - 6.50
3. Radio Dreaming - 6.19
4. The Migrants Song - 8.05
5. Tristes And Milongas - 7.08
6. Chinese And Italians - 11.51
7. Rum and Lord Franklin - 11.43
“The icon of post-everything music” – Lawrence English (::Room40::)
For the past 50 years he has been an international artistic explorer constantly pushing the boundaries.
Mike Cooper’s output of the past half century has been described as ‘post-everything’. It’s a fitting phrase really when you consider he has been at the beating heart of so many critical musical moments. From the development of the blues touring circuit in the UK, through the growth of the folk scene and into the explosion of free improvisation that came to define a generation of UK musicians. Amidst it all, working at stitching these disparate forms into some kind of deterritorialised zone, was Mike Cooper. - Lawrence English Room 40 Records.
“Cooper, 75 this year, is making the most adventurous music of his life… incredibly rich and evocative, and as a live performance, it’s utterly flawless. Cooper takes live guitar processing and sampling as his raw material, using it to build something complex and substantive, full of ideas and surprises, not just abandoning it half-formed.” – (Jonathan Dean – Brainwashed)
He plays lap steel guitar and sings, he is an improviser and composer, song-maker, a visual and installation artist; film and video maker and radio arts producer.
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
Orphy Robinson is one of the major figures of the jazz scene - he has released records on Blue Note and played with Don Cherry, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Courtney Pine, Jazz Warriors and Andy Shepherd.
He has composed for Film and TV- including “In answer to your question” for the Balanescu String Quartet and “ 42 Shades of Black” for Phoenix Dance Theatre,which was performed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Currently leads the groups CODEFIVE- NUBIAN VIBES - he also plays in the groups BRUISE and CLEAR FRAME
"As the saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter once famously remarked in a 1992 interview with Mel Martin, “The word ‘jazz’ means to me no category”. You would similarly search in vain for a pigeon hole in which to place Black Top #5. An evening of surpassing invention and ambition, there might be a more creative, more engaging and more inspiring gig at this year’s London Jazz Festival. But I somehow doubt it." - The Arts Desk
Michael Thieke is equally at home across a broad range of musical environments, such as experimental song forms, collectively composing projects, improvising collectives, and music on the fringes of jazz. He is exploring the minutiae of sound, timbre and noise, with a particular interest in microtonality and related sound phenomena.
Tim Hill lives in Somerset, plays the saxophone and makes noise drawing on free improvisation, grooves, electronica, composition, traditional music and ritual sound. He often works out of doors in street bands, performances and rituals.
Current projects include The Noise Eating Monsters with Alex Ward (album out in October on Muteant Sounds) and Brazen Heads, a duo with Wayne Rex (https://waynerex.bandcamp.com/album/verdigris).
Since the 1980s he has played with improvisers like Mike Cooper, Paul Burwell, Steve Noble, John Edwards and Derek Bailey.www.soundcloud.com/timhill2
“Muscular, well developed playing... somewhere between Johnny Hodges and Dudu Pukwana.” – Phillip Clarke, The Wire