Over the years, improv festivals have come and gone, being fondly remembered but missed once gone. Veterans of the London improv scene recall Derek Bailey’s Company Weeks, as well as the London Musicians’ Co-operative annual festival, both now gone. In 2009, the Another Timbre label ran The Unnamed Music Festival over three days, two at Café Oto, and the third in Leeds. It was received with great acclaim but never reappeared for a second year – maybe later this year, who knows?
Freedom of the City, variously curated by John Coxon, Martin Davidson, Evan Parker and Eddie Prévost, has long been one of the highlights of the improv calendar – this year it will run from Saturday April 30th to Monday May 2nd. Nearly as well-established is Fete Quaqua, curated by guitarist John Russell, which runs for three days each August at The Vortex. Drawing on musicians who are regulars at Russell’s monthly Mopomoso night at The Vortex, Fete Quaqua similarly attracts players from across the world. South of the river, Adam Bohman’s annual New Year New Sounds week at Battersea Arts Centre attracts an impressive line-up and has quickly established itself.
Now, As Alike As Trees makes its debut, curated by saxophonist David O’Conner and violinist Jennifer Allum, both of whom are regulars at Eddie Prévost’s weekly Friday evening improvising workshops. Prévost himself has also played an important behind-the-scenes role in putting the festival together.
Alongside O’Connor and Alum, the weekend will feature a large number of players who attend those workshops. Some – including saxophonist Seymour Wright, guitarist Ross Lambert and pianist Sebastian Lexer – are Friday evening veterans and have become established names as improvisers.
The weekend will also welcome guest artists from the continent, notably the French-Swiss quintet Hubbub, who have released two albums on Prévost’s Matchless label. A solo set from the ever-entertaining French electronics and objects performer Pascal Battus is also appealing. On Sunday 6th, two duos pair guest artists with workshop veterans: Seymour Wright meets Austrian electronics player Klaus Fillip, while German pianists Christoph Schiller and London-based Sebastian Lexer will close the festival.
For many, a rare London appearance by AMM, when Prévost and John Tilbury give a duo performance, will be a highlight. However, the weekend promises a rich and varied experience of improvised music of a high standard, the kind of event of which London can be rightly proud.
The complete line-up for the weekend is:
Saturday 5th March, 2pm
David O’Connor: saxophones; Matthew Olczak: electric guitar.
Pascal Battus from France: electronics, objects.
Grundik Kasyansky: electronics; Guilaume Viltard: double bass; Marjolaine Chablin from France: piano
Saturday 5th March, 7pm
Tim Yates: guitar; Russell Callow: percussion, objects; Carole Finer: banjo; Anat Ben-David: voice, electronics, scrap; Chris Hyde-Harrison: double bass.
Ute Kanngieser: cello; Jennifer Allum: violin; Matt Davis: trumpet.
[Cover of Hoib by Hubbub (Matchless, 2004)]
Hubbub: – Frédéric Blondy from France: piano; Bertrand Denzler from Switzerland: tenor Saxophone; Jean-Luc Guionnet from France: alto saxophone; Jean-Sébastien Mariage from France: amplified guitar; Edward Perraud from France: drums and percussion.
Sunday 6th March, 2pm
Walter Cardew: electric guitar; Jerry Wigens: clarinet; Romauld Wadych: objects; David Papapostolou: cello.
Seymour Wright: alto saxophone; Klaus Filip from Austria: electronics.
Sunday March 6th, 7pm
Jamie Coleman: trumpet; Ross Lambert: guitar; Paul Abbott: percussion, electronics; Philip Somervell: piano.
Gabriel Humberstone: percussion; Matt Hammond: guitar.
Christoph Schiller from Germany: piano, voice; Sebastian Lexer: piano.
Tickets cost £8 per session (£6-50 for concessions) or £15 (12-50) per day or £28 (£24) for the weekend. They are available from We Got Tickets and will also be available on the door.
Further information can be seen at http://www.asalikeastrees.org/