When jazz-rock was born at the end of the 1960s, a number of British musicians
Keith Tippett would remain one of the most influential figures
from those early days.
A member of Chris MacGregor's Blue Notes (where he met drummer Louis Moholo, cornetist Mongezi Feza and saxophonist Dudu Pukwana), Tippett founded his first combo in 1967.
By the time Miles Davis revolutionized jazz music, Tippett had assembled an impressive group of talents: Elton Dean (saxophone), Mark Charig (trumpet), Nick Evans (trombone), Roy Babbington (bass), John Marshall (drums), etc.
Their albums You Are Here I Am There (Vertigo, 1970)
Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (Vertigo, 1971)
came out at the same time that
Soft Machine were moving towards jazz-rock.
The three families of musicians began an incestuous relationship that would
continue for many years.
Tippett also played piano on King Crimson's second, third and fourth album.
Tippett's Centipede, a 50-piece orchestra with players drawn from the jazz, rock, folk and classical worlds (drummer Robert Wyatt, guitarist Brian Godding, trombonist Paul Rutherford, oboe player Karl Jenkins, tenorist Brian Smith, tenorist Gary Windo, tenorist Alan Skidmore, trumpeter Ian Carr, vocalists Julie Driscoll, Zoot Money and Maggie Nicols and a string section, in addition to his cohorts Dean, Marshall, Charig, Evans and Babbington and to old friends Pukwana and Feza) recorded the monolithic four-movement suite Septober Energy (june 1971),
produced by King Crimson's guitarist Robert Fripp,
the ultimate testament of British jazz-rock (over 80-minute long).
Centipede toured for a while and dissolved in 1975.
Tippett's next project, Ovary Lodge, was a more orthodox proposition of jazz
music that released three albums:
Blueprint (RCA, 1972), Ovary Lodge (RCA, 1973), possibly the best
of the three, in a trio with Babbington and percussionist Frank Perry, containing the suite Mountain Temple In Spring, and Ovary Lodge (august 1975 - Ogun, 1975), that added Driscoll on vocals.
The vocalist was his wife Julie Driscoll.
Keith Tippett (piano) also formed the Command All Stars with Elton Dean (electric piano, sopranino saxophone, alto saxophone), Nick Evans (trombone), Mark Charig (cornet), Harry Miller, Johnny Dyani (basses) and Keith Bailey (drums) also that recorded Curiosities (february 1972), but the album was released only in 2008.
Warm Spirits Cool Spirits (december 1976) was a drum-less quartet with Driscoll and saxophonist Trevor Watts.
Ark was an attempt at recreating the magic of Centipede. A 22-piece orchestra
recorded the four-movement suite Frames (Ogun, 1978).
Tippett wasted the 1980s releasing music that was not focused and exhibited
a relaxed, almost new-age mood:
The Unlonely Raindancer (Universe, 1979),
No Gossip (FMP, 1980), a collaboration with Moholo,
also two collaborations with pianist Howard Riley,
First Encounter (Impetus, 1981) and On Focus (Affinity, 1984),
a live concert with Louis Moholo and saxophonist Larry Stabbins, Tern (FMP, 1982 - Atavistic, 2003),
A Loose Kite In A Gentle Wind Floating With Only My Will For An Anchor (Ogun, 1984), perhaps the best of the decade, a four-movement suite performed by
Dean, Charig, Evans, Stabbins, bassist Paul Rogers and drummer Tony Levin,
The Supergrass (Island, 1985), which was a trio with Stabbins and guitarist Simon Booth,
Solo Improvisation/Duet Improvisation (Vand'Oeuvre, 1985),
Mr Invisible (FMP, 1986), with two vocalists,
Couple In Spirit (EG, 1987), with Driscoll,
66 Shades Of Lipstick (EG, 1990),
Twilight Etchings (FMP, 1993),
Couple In Spirit II (ASC, 1996).
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these albums were disposable.
Tippett's best work of the 1980s was probably the one found on
the series of solo pieces titled Mujician (december 1981 - FMP, 1981),
including the 20-minute I Hear Your Voice Again,
Mujician II (june 1986 - FMP, 1986), entirely taken up by the 42-minute
Dan Sing Music, and Mujician III (june 1987 - FMP, 1987),
consisting of the 23-minute I Love You Julie and the 47-minute August Air.
More solos appeared on
The Dartington Concert (EG, 1990),
Une Croix Dans L'Ocean (Victo, 1994),
and Friday The Thirteenth (Sakura Notes, 1997).
His technique of "spontaneous composition" was mainly tested with
Mujician, a quartet with
Paul Dunmall (reeds), Paul Rogers (bass) and Tony Levin (drums) that
debuted with The Journey (Cuneiform, 1990), an hour long improvisation
reminiscent of Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin as well as of cool jazz and free jazz.
After dissecting an Indian leitmotiv in the clarinet for eleven minutes, the
quartet engages in ten minutes of fiery interplay. Afte six minutes of jamming
led by Anthony Braxton-ian saxophone patterns, rolling piano figures introduce
the second, much more abstract part of the piece that lasts until music dissolves into sparse harp and piano notes,
The 71-minute "five-verse"
Poem About The Hero (Cuneiform, 1994) opened in the same
disjointed manner, but this time instead of being lulled by a clarinet the
music is ripped apart by a wildly dissonant saxophone. After an aimless
second verse, the lengthy third one introduced much dramatic tension but
virtually no structure. The 30-minute fifth verse rediscovered a jazz feeling
but continuously challenged by a sense of impending chaos.
Birdman (Cuneiform, 1995) mainly displayed the phenomenal interplay
among the four musicians (in the ebullient sections of the
28-minute Birdman and 31-minute Shubunkins), whereas the
shorter The Hands Are Just Shadows focused on extreme timbral juxtaposition.
The four-movement Colours Fulfilled (Cuneiform, 1997), perhaps the best
Mujician release, was an uncompromising display of their aesthetics, from the
violent jamming of the first movement to the hysterical frenzy of the second,
from the unstable mood changes of the third to the fibrillating Indian drone
of the closer.
The Dedication Orchestra
(Tippett, Evan Parker, Louis Moholo, Paul Rutherford, Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill
Spirits Rejoice (Ogun, 1992) and
Ixesha (Ogun, 1992), collections of compositions by several musicians
(none by Tippett).
Keith Tippett also formed another big band, Tapestry, that performed
live at several jazz festivals.
Keith Tippett, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall also formed SoftWare.
Spacetime (Cuneiform, 2001) was the least organic of the Mujician
releases, containing 15 short pieces rather than the usual extended jams.
The 45-minute piece
There's No Going Back Now (june 2005 - Cuneiform, 2006)
returns Tippett and Mujician to their favorite format of free-form invention.
It begins as hyper-free music, pure dissonant avantgarde, discrete and glitchy
About 17 minutes into the piece, the instruments join together in a festive
albeit chaotic fanfare.
The second part (there is a break half way into the track) is more dynamic and
even frenzied (not to mention "musical") as it approaches its neurotic (and melancholy) ending.
The quartet is a furnace of ideas and is capable of simplifying even the most
complex of them. But Mujician always requires attention, and clever attention.
In a sense, Tippett is crafting the dual or the opposite process of
Necks. While they both indulge in colossal
streams of consciousness, Tippett replaces their hypnotic ambient flow with
a highly challenging and unstable bombardment.
Live At Lemans (may 1998) documents a live performance of the
Tapestry Orchestra (featuring
Paul Rutherford, Paul Dunmall, Elton Dean, Louis Moholo, Tony Levin and many others).
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini) |
Quando nacque il jazz-rock alla fine degli
anni '60, molti
gruppi inglesi lo adottarono subito. Keith Tippett rimarrà
figure più influenti di quegli anni. Membro dei Blue Notes di
MacGregor (dove incontrò il batterista Louis Moholo, il
Mongezi Feza e il sassofnosita Dudu Pukwana), Tippett fondò
combo nel 1967. In quei giorni Miles Davis stava rivoluzionando la
jazz, e Tippett assemblò un gruppo di veri talenti: Elton
Mark Charig (tromba), Nick Evans (trombone), Roy Babbington (basso),
Marshall (batteria), etc. I loro album You Are Here I Am
1970) e soprattutto Dedicated To You But You Weren't
1971) uscirono nello stesso periodo in cui i Nucleus
e i Soft Machine stavano
jazz-rock. Le tre "famiglie" di musicisti cominciarono a
rapporti incestuosi che si protenderanno per molti anni. Tippett
anche il pianoforte nel secondo, terzo e quarto album dei King
Dean e altri si unirono ai Soft Machine, Tippett forma i Centipede,
di 50 elementi con musicisti provenienti da esperienze jazz, rock e
(John Marshall, Robert Wyatt, Roy Babbington, Brian Godding, Nick
Rutherford, Karl Jenkins, Brian Smith, Gary Windo, Alan Skidmore,
Dudu Pukwana, Marc Charig, Mongesi Feza, Ian Carr, Maggie Nichols,
Mike Patto, Zoot Money, etc). Quell'orchestra registrò un
Septober Energy (RCA, 1971), prodotto dal chitarrista dei
Robert Fripp. I Centipede però durarono poco e si sciosero
Il successivo progetto di Tippett, gli Ovary Lodge, proponeva una
jazz più ortodossa e realizzò tre album:
1972), Ovary Lodge (RCA, 1973), forse il migliore dei tre, e
Lodge (Ogun, 1975). La cantante del gruppo era sua moglie Julie
Gli Ark furono un tentativo di ripetere la magia dei Centipede:
di 22 elementi registrò Frames (Ogun, 1978).
Tippett passò gli anni '80 a realizzare musica non
che mostrava un mood un rilassato, quasi new-age.: The Unlonely
(Universe, 1979), No Gossip (FMP, 1980), due collaborazioni
Howard Riley, First Encounter (Impetus, 1981) and On
1984), Tern (FMP, 1982), A Loose Kite In A Gentle Wind
With Only My Will For An Anchor (Ogun, 1984), forse il migliore
The Supergrass (Island, 1985), Solo Improvisation/Duet
(Vand'Oeuvre, 1985), Mr Invisible (FMP, 1986), Couple In
(EG, 1987), 66 Shades Of Lipstick (EG, 1990), Twilight
(FMP, 1993), Couple In Spirit II (ASC, 1996).
Sfortunatamente, la maggior
parte dei dischi di Tippett sono disponibili.
Il miglior lavoro di Tippett è probabilmente quelli basati
serie di brani solisti intitolati Mujician (FMP, 1981),
II (FMP, 1986) e Mujician III (FMP, 1987). Altri brani
saranno raccolti su The Dartington Concert (EG, 1990), Une
Dans L'Ocean (Victo, 1994), and Friday The Thirteenth
La sua tecnica di "compisizione spontanea" è stata provata
più con l'ensemble Mujician, che include Paul Dunmall
Rogers (basso) e Tony Levin, e ha registrato The Journey
1990), un'improvvisazione di un'ora, Poem About The Hero
1994), Birdman (Cuneiform, 1995), Colours Fulfilled
1997), forse il migliore, e Spacetime (Cuneiform, 2001),
e più sperimentale (molti pezzi brevi piuttosto delle
La Dedication Orchestra (Tippett, Evan Parker, Louis Moholo, Paul
Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill and others) ha pubblicato l'eccellente
Rejoice (Ogun, 1992) e Ixesha (Ogun, 1992).
Keith Tippett ha anche formata un'altra big band, i Tapestry, che
spesso nei jazz festivals.
Keith Tippett, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper e John Marshall hanno