‘Hard Edges Plus’ – new improvised lunchtime series in Norwich, starting 28 July

A new lunchtime concert series brings improvised music to Norwich courtesy of the Hard Edges trio, plus special guests Brigitte Beraha, Matthew Bourne and Neil Metcalfe. Hard Edges member Ben Higham spoke with Bruce Lindsay about the concerts.

Hard Edges Trio. L-R: Chris Dowding, Ben Higham, Dave Amis.

Hard Edges is an improvising brass trio whose members draw on decades of creative performance with artists including Keith Tippett, Mike Westbrook, John Stevens and Annie Whitehead. At a rough estimate the three musicians – Dave Amis (trombone), Ben Higham (trumpet, flugelhorn, tuba) and Chris Dowding (trumpet and flugelhorn) – have well over 120 years of experience between them as professional musicians, and they are still developing new musical ideas. Amis, who was gigging with his father’s dance band at the age of 13, was a long-term collaborator with Keith Tippett and a member of Tippett’s large ensembles Centipede, Ark, Tapestry and the Dedication Orchestra. Higham worked extensively with John Stevens and leads The Brass Monkeys, an eight-piece including Annie Whitehead and Jim Rattigan. Dowding leads the Moonrise Trio and is a member of The Brass Monkeys and Natural Causes and Rude 2.0 (also with Whitehead).

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The idea for Hard Edges Plus arose following Tippett’s death in 2020 and Hard Edges’ involvement in tributes to the pianist and composer. The three players decided that they would enjoy performing with other improvising musicians and developed the Hard Edges Plus series. Three concerts are planned so far: vocalist and composer Brigitte Beraha will join the trio for the opening concert on 28 July, pianist and composer Matthew Bourne appears on 29 September and flautist Neil Metcalfe joins the group for the concert on 24 November. Each of the guests has played with one or more of Hard Edges’ members in the past (Beraha and Dowding are members of ALATI, for example) but these concerts will be their debut performances with the trio.

Ben Higham emphasises that each concert will be fully improvised, ensuring that the music will be spontaneous, the interplay between the four musicians arising in the moment. No doubt the resulting musical creativity will provide a few surprises for the players as well as for the audience. What better way to spend a lunchtime hour?

The concerts take place at Norwich’s Anteros Arts Foundation, in its intimate and relaxed upstairs Music Room, bringing to the city a rare opportunity to hear leading improvisers. The trio are all familiar with the space and chose it deliberately: it lends itself, says Higham, to minimally-amplified music. Each concert will be recorded, with a view to a possible album release, and the trio have plans, still loose, to develop the Hard Edges Plus collaborations in the future.

Hard Edges Plus concerts will take place from 1pm-2pm at the Anteros Arts Foundation, 11-15 Fye Bridge Street, Norwich.

28 July: with Brigitte Beraha

29 September: with Matthew Bourne

24 November: with Neil Metcalfe

LINKS: 2017 podcast interview with Freddie Gavita expressing gratitude to Dave Amis

Anteros Foundation website

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