Improv inspiration

Last night’s gig made for a fantastic companion piece to the night before… it’s a shame nobody else was able to be at both!

The gig was an improv performance, featuring music, dance and video projections. The musicians were me, Rowland Sutherland on flute, Roger Goula on guitar and loopage, and the organiser, singer Filomena Campus.

The evening started with me playing a low droning loop as people were coming in the door, which served to punctuate the beginning of the gig really well, as it stopped just as the first bit of poetry was read (a TS Eliot poem), from which I surreptitiously sampled the line ‘Before the beginning and after the end. All all is always now’ – which I then used to feed into the rest of my opening solo piece. So end of poem, into a 5 or so minute improv of me, and I was then joined by a dancer, Sofie Arstall, who was responding to what I was doing, and to the projections that were happening on the wall behind me (I’m told they were amazing).

Filomena joined us, and her voice was fed into the sample collage of my stuff and the TS Eliot line. All in all, a fab lil’ improv.

following that Roger and Rowland played a duet – both are great players. in these kind of situations Roger and I think quite similarly, in that we juxtapose weird noises with tonal elements – he created a mad loop of heavily processed and mangled guitar scrapes and squeaks, and then added a lovely jazzy chordal thing over the top, while Rowland played some of the most amazing flute work I’ve ever heard, using a whole load of extended techniques I’d not really come across before. Lovely stuffs.

Roger and I were then both employed to loop a load of noise from the audience as part of the next guided improv, which errupted into a (staged) argument amongst a load of audience members (this again was looped and processed), which blended into another improv piece…

I love gigs like this – I always come away with new ideas for places to go, musically. It’s also really unusual to do gigs where I don’t get to connect with the audience by chatting with them as well. It’s got to the point where the chat is as much a part of allowing the audience to know what I’m about as the playing is, so going back to just playing is another interesting challenge, and a good one.

Hopefully we’ll get to do all of this again soon – Roger is going to be at the Recycle Collective in March, and I’m sure Filomena will be involved very soon too – maybe I’ll do a trio gig with her and Rowland at some point…

SoundtrackBill Frisell, ‘East/West’.

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