- 1. LOW STANDARD (13:39)
- 2. HIGH STANDARD (15:48)
- 3. THE REMOVE (07:44)
- 4. SCHARLACHGLUT (16:15)
- 5. RUSSELLIANA (08:13)
- 6. SOUVENIR DE DOCTEUR (06:30)
The First Two Gigs
CHRIS BURN piano & percussion
JOHN BUTCHER soprano & tenor saxophones
RHODRI DAVIES harp
JOHN EDWARDS double bass
An improvising quartet featuring four of the finest and most innovative musicians, who have extended the ranges of their respective instruments - piano, saxophones, harp and double bass - into new, uncharted territories. As well as having exceptional techniques, they are all virtuoso listeners, so that these first two performances as a quartet sound as if they have being working together for years. 68 minutes.
Excerpts from sleeve notes:
Most performances on the London improvising scene are by ad hoc duos, trios and quartets that, more often than not, only ever perform once. When such a group really clicks, there is an incentive to play again in that configuration. Some groups are so comfortable together that they become long standing affairs, lasting years or even decades. But even in those cases, the individual members also get involved in other ad hoc situations.
The musicians in the quartet heard on this CD have often worked together in duos. For example, John Butcher's duos with the other three members can be heard on FONETIKS (Bead) which was the recording debut of both Burn & Butcher, VORTICES & ANGELS (Emanem) and HIT & RUN (FMP) respectively. Three of the quartet are also members of the larger group known as the Chris Burn Ensemble. However the two complete performances heard here were the first times they played as a quartet.
Chris Burn convened the group to perform at a mini-festival organised in the north-east London suburb of Walthamstow by Veryan Weston. The performance was so successful musically, that they decided to reconvene a few months later at one of the monthly Mopomoso concerts organised by Chris Burn & John Russell.
The four musicians involved are four of the most creative, inventive and original around today. All four specialise in extracting unheard of sounds from their respective instruments, and using them to make profound group (and solo) music. It must be emphasised that no amplification or other form of electronics were used - there were no loudspeakers in sight.
Burn and Butcher have been making music together since the late 1970s (when Butcher was also completing a doctorate on the theoretical properties of charmed quarks). John Corbett wrote in 1997 that: 'Chris Burn brings to the sound-board an improviser's sensitivity to open form exploration and a research scientist's intensity when it comes to the business of piano preparation and alteration.' Much the same could be said about the younger Rhodri Davies' approach to the harp - in fact Burn and Davies have performed some remarkable duos that sound far removed from what one expects to hear from a piano and a harp.
The two Johns seem to be everywhere these days. Butcher has built up a considerable (and much deserved) reputation on both sides of the Atlantic, whilst Edwards seems to be in just about every other London improvising group. Together with Burn and Davies, they form a quartet of listening musicians, able to contribute to the overall group music whilst still showing their individualities - a long standing feature of the London scene.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (2001)