• 1. PRESPONSE (13:50)
  • 2. THE PIANO ATE CARD (17:04)
  • 3. POLLOCK #82 (09:32)
  • 4. SOUTHERN SAMBA A GO-GO (10:08)
  • 5. HAMMER HINT (08:52)
  • 6. BLOCKS AND ARCHES (12:40)

The Place 1991

JIM DENLEY piccolo, flute, bass flute
JOHN BUTCHER soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
STEVIE WISHART violin, hurdy-gurdy
CHRIS BURN piano, toy piano, percussion
MATT HUTCHINSON synthesizer & electronics
EVAN PARKER tenor saxophone (on 6 only)

A concert performance by the eight-piece group, with JIM DENLEY (flutes), JOHN BUTCHER (saxophones), PHIL DURRANT (violin), STEVIE WISHART (violin & hurdy-gurdy), MARCIO MATTOS (cello), JOHN RUSSELL (guitar), MATT HUTCHINSON (synthesizer) and CHRIS BURN (piano & percussion). They interpret three scores by Burn, and one each by Butcher and Keith Rowe, as well as performing a free improvisation. EVAN PARKER is an added guest on one of the Burn pieces. 72 minutes.

THE PLACE 1991 is a recording of our performance during the Crosswinds Festival, which was held at The Place theatre, London during October 1991. The festival was directed by Mark Ingleby, and had active support from Sonic Arts and the SPNM. The stated aim of the Festival was to 'highlight the musical and creative links between jazz improvisation and the work of contemporary composers.' Ensemble shared the October 13th concert with Evan Parker who played a solo set, and joined us for the final piece of the evening: Blocks and Arches.

The concert was a departure for us in a number of ways. This was the first time we had worked with a guest soloist. It was also the first time that a composer outside of Ensemble had written a piece for the group: Keith Rowe's Pollock #82 was also the first piece involving graphic notation we had performed.

At Crosswinds we collaborated with Evan on a structure of my making called Blocks and Arches. As with The Piano Ate Card and Presponse, I was primarily concerned with groupings of musicians. On Blocks Evan was asked to play throughout the piece, likewise Stevie Wishart (on hurdy-gurdy) for the majority of Piano. The score presents to soloist and ensemble member an ever changing and sometimes rapidly changing landscape. How they work within this is entirely up to the individual.

The only freely improvised piece is Hammer Hint. Listening to this piece many years later, I was struck by how entirely possible it would be to score it out in the manner of an Ensemble structure. For me this is no bad thing. The structured and freely improvised have, I feel, been mutually influential. In fact, as mentioned above, it is the case that a whole series of reciprocal relationships informs the music of this concert.

On a personal note, listening back to these compositions and also my playing of 10 years ago, I can hear things that I have since discarded; things that have ever been present, and also material and techniques that were then in their infancy. I hear similar processes at work with the group, individually and collectively.

Early on, Ensemble decided to work without a drummer. Occasionally the idea of an orchestral percussionist cropped up, but no-one sprang to mind. I like a lot of those sounds, and asked Matt Hutchinson to select - amongst many of the available horrors - 5 usable percussion samples. Each had an exotic name, and Southern Samba a Go-Go is a framework for him to improvise in duo with piano, tenor, guitar, flute and then the remaining string trio; starting each time from one of these settings.

Album label: 
Release date: 
01.04 / 2001
Recording date: 
13.10 / 1991
Recording location: 
London (The Place)
Artwork design : Martin Davidson
Mastering engineer : Martin Davidson
Recording engineer : Martin Davidson

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