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Monday 28 July 2014, 8pm

Photo by Tim Ferguson


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Alex Neilson returns to OTO with a fantastic self-curated line-up featuring a number of recent collaborators. 

Performing here with fellow Death Shanties members, Sybren Renema and Lucy Stein, the trio will also be joined by the great bassist John Edwards. Alex and John have hit it off to great effect since playing together for the first time last year, having since played at OTO with Thurston Moore and opening for Jandek in a trio with Shabaka Hutchings. N.E.W. - the London based power jazz trio of Steve Noble on drums, John Edwards on double bass and Alex Ward on electric guitar - are on blistering form following the recent release of new album, Motion, on Dancing Wayang, and are never less than utterly compelling live. Opening this evening will also be the first duo performance from Sybren Renema and Alex Ward on saxophone and clarinet respectively.

Alex Neilson

“Already a legendary free-drummer Alex Neilson has played with most of the musical underground’s heavyweights of this era. This one man folk renaissance movement has left a trail of recordings and thrilling live shows with Jandek, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Heather Leigh, Alasdair Roberts, and Richard Youngs in his youthful wake. 

Always moving from project to project, Neilson brings a sense of exploration and independence to his playing. As one of the most energetic and ‘in-tune’ free players around, Neilson has a better grasp than most on trying to get across the nature of improvisation.” - stylusmagazine 

Sybren Renema

Sybren Renema is a Dutch saxophonist also active as an artist, writer and critic. Over recent years, he has a wide range of acts including Trembling Bells, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Daevid Allen (Gong), Marshall Allen (Sun Ra Arkestra), Hugh Metcalfe, The Cosmic Dead, Death Shanties and many others. Currently, his main focus lies with two projects: Death Shanties, a duo with featuring Alex Neilson on drums and with painter Lucy Stein providing live visuals, and Eierbal, with James T McKay from the Cosmic Dead on guitar. 

Steve Noble

Steve Noble is London's leading drummer, a fearless and constantly inventive improviser whose super-precise, ultra-propulsive and hyper-detailed playing has galvanized encounters with Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Stephen O'Malley, Joe McPhee, Alex Ward, Rhodri Davies and many, many more. 

In the early eighties, Noble played with the Nigerian master drummer Elkan Ogunde, Rip Rig and Panic, Brion Gysin and the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, before going on to work with the pianist Alex Maguire and with Derek Bailey (including Company Weeks 1987, 89 and 90). He was featured in the Bailey's excellent TV series on Improvisation for Channel 4 based on his book ‘Improvisation; its nature and practise’. He has toured and performed throughout Europe, Africa and America and currently leads the groups N.E.W (with John Edwards and Alex Ward) and DECOY (with John Edwards and Alexander Hawkins). 

John Edwards

John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with Evan Parker, Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Lol Coxhill, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others.

"I think John Edwards is absolutely remarkable: there’s never been anything like him before, anywhere in jazz." - Richard Williams, The Blue Moment

Alex Ward

Alex Ward is a composer, improviser, and performing musician, working primarily with clarinet and guitar. His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. He subsequently took part regularly in Bailey's Company events, and has gone on to become a major figure in British improvised music. 
His current work includes the avant-rock duo Dead Days Beyond Help in which he plays guitar, sings and co-writes the material; various groups which perform his compositions-for-improvisers including Forebrace, the Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet, and the Item series of ensembles (the first of which, Item 10, debuted at Cafe Oto in September 2017); and improvising collaborations both regular and ad-hoc with musicians including Steve Noble, Dominic Lash, Kay Grant, Joe Morris and Weasel Walter. Besides his own groups and improvisational work, he also performs in ensembles including the Duck Baker Trio/Quartet, Thurston Moore’s recent multi-guitar projects Galaxies and New Noise Guitar Explorations, and Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward’s This Is Not This Heat. He brings a unique energy and inventiveness to all these projects, elevating them far above the ordinary and injecting them with a thrilling sense of danger and possibility. Much of his work is documented on the label Copepod, which he co-runs with Luke Barlow.
"...guitarist Alex Ward [is] a compulsively creative polymath... a reliably unpredictable axe-hero for collaborators of all backgrounds." Stewart Lee, The Sunday Times Review