291 Gallery, Hackney, London
9th January 2005
The following text reproduces the introduction for horn_bill, the thirteenth ONGAKU: enjoy-sound event, which appeared on ongakusound.com in December 2004.
The solo concert offers the purest opportunity of experiencing a single human being engaged in their productive process. In ensemble performance, collective music-making distributes responsibility for the sound and structure of improvisations. In solo performance, no such diffusion of responsibility occurs; aside from the ambient sound that occurs at any concert, there is only one source. Even solo playing, however, contains material derived from interactions with other musicians, perhaps from previous playing encounters or by listening to them on record. The history of solo saxophone playing extends backwards through Braxton's seminal 'For Alto' to Coleman Hawkins' 'Picasso'* and will be presented in this concert by six musicians whose relationships to that tradition vary.
â€œIn the end the saxophone has been for me a rather specialised biofeedback instrument for studying and expanding my control over my hearing and the motor mechanics of parts of my skeleto-muscular system.â€ Evan Parker - Man and Machine, 1992.
Evan Parker will be performing at horn_bill almost 30 years after his first ever soprano saxophone solo concert in 1975 (released as the seminal recording Saxophone Solos). He has been one of the main forces in extending saxophone language over the past forty years.
â€œA lot of the material I work with is right at the border of the instrument â€” the reed seizing up and breaking down â€” it's on the edge of controllable sound.â€ John Butcher â€”
www.paris transatlantic.com 2001.
John Butcher is one of the world's leading saxophone players and improvisers. He has honed a unique and uniquely saxophonic textural vocabulary. He is in international demand for solo performances and we are delighted to be able to present him in this company.
â€œAn approach farther away from that of his contemporary in free music, Evan Parker, is difficult to imagine. Perhaps therein lies the stylistic conundrum that took Lou Gare out of the frame in the general perception of how free music should evolve.â€ Eddie Prévost â€” AMM - At the Roundhouse 2004 reissue (ICES 01 Anomalous Records).
Lou Gare's presence in AMM during the '60s and '70s placed him on an entirely different trajectory to his contemporary Evan Parker but we hope to reconnect their very different legacies through this concert, which itself follows our presentation of the most recent incarnation of AMM in December 2004.
The only non-saxophonist in this concert, Kai Fagaschinski's clarinet playing on Absinth Records' recent 'Berlin Reeds' album has given his fascinating, detailed solo playing welcome wider exposure.
â€œKai, a Berlin-based composer/performer, focuses on the subtle musicality of noise phenomena. His abstract music includes an insidious expressivity and an almost pre-melodic quality [...] on the borderline of composition, improvisation and conceptualism.â€ Charizma records â€” www.charizma.com, 2004. This will be Kaiâ€™s first visit to London.
â€œHis (Wrightâ€™s) approach to 'playing' the saxophone is quite unique and is, at first, quite comedic. He uses his saxophone as an acoustic amplifier as opposed to a melodic, reed-based instrument; kissing, sucking and blowing the different sound holes to create percussive and otherworldly sounds. At other times, he uses small electric appliances in contact with the sax.â€ Neil Kleiner â€” www.invisiblepress.com, 2003.
Seymour Wright has described his approach to playing the saxophone as like an operation, citing guitarist Keith Rowe as a key influence. His strong fresh voice is deeply â€” if deceptively â€” rooted in the history of the saxophone tradition.
â€œNathaniel Catchpole impresses with his contrarian approach to conversation[...] He's as
uncategorisable as Hitchens.â€
Walter Horn â€” www.bagatellen.com, 2003.
London-based tenor player Nat Catchpole's approach to the instrument perhaps in some way parallels Ami Yoshidaâ€™s so-called 'howling voiceâ€™â€š technique. His unamplified laminal abstraction seems to be concerned with the basic building blocks of duration and timbre, in stark contrast to sound that is electronically generated and processed in the digital domain. He is strongly motivated by the political dimensions of freedom and his playing is simultaneously cool, intense and assured.
Playing music is fundamentally about the production of sound, creating something where it otherwise wouldn't exist. Solo wind playing relies entirely on the musician putting the forces of production into motion by the interaction of breath with reed and mouthpiece, and of hands or other objects with the body of the instrument. Sounds can't be reduced in this context, they can only be produced at a lesser rate of occurrence or volume, or not at all.
ONGAKU:enjoy_sound, December, 2004.
* Another factor in the relative obscurity of solo saxophone is that its history has been built on misinformation. Jazz histories generally cite Coleman Hawkins' 'Picasso', recorded in 1948 for Norman Granz's The Jazz Scene, as the first jazz solo saxophone recording (it is included on Verve's expanded CD repackaging of the classic collection of 78s and photographs). They're wrong. Despite historian J. R. Taylor's evidence that 'Picasso' was recorded in 1946, Hawkins' own Hawk's Variations was waxed first, in January 1945. But what really clouds the Hawk-dominated Genesis story of the solo sax performance is Fats Waller reedman Gene Sedric's 1937 unaccompanied tenor recording, 'Saxophone Doodle'. And according to historian Vladimir Simosko, baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff made a solo tenor recording of 'Body and Soul' in 1939 or '41, suggesting solo flights began earlier and were more widespread than commonly believed. '
Bill Shoemaker, Jazz Times, June 2000 - Vol 30 Number 5.
note: The music presented on this CD is the whole of that 9th January 2005 event, bar the opening minutes of Seymour Wrightâ€™s solo which are lost through the vagaries of a slovenly DAT
The Great Hornbill shown on the front cover is a 3-4 year old male, not quite fully adult, raised in captivity, along with a female of the same year, after being found below a nest and then living free around the Hala-Bala Wildlife Research Station, near Waeng, southern Thailand close to the Malaysia border.
We would like to thank Alan & Meg Kemp for allowing us to use their photograph and also express our thanks to the World Hornbill Network.
Information about their conservation activities can be found: