Keith Tippett


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You Are Here I Am There (1970), 6/10
Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (1971), 7/10
Centipede: Septober Energy (1971), 7/10
Blueprint (1972), 6/10
Ovary Lodge (1973), 6.5/10
Ovary Lodge (1975), 6/10
Ark: Frames (1978), 6/10
The Unlonely Raindancer (1979), 5/10
No Gossip (1980), 5/10
First Encounter (1981), 5/10
Mujician (1981), 6/10
Tern (1982), 5/10
On Focus (1984), 5/10
A Loose Kite (1984), 6.5/10
The Supergrass (1985), 5/10
Solo Improvisation (1985), 5/10
Mujician II (1986), 6/10
Mr Invisible (1986), 5/10
Couple In Spirit (1987), 5/10
66 Shades Of Lipstick (1990), 5/10
Twilight Etchings (1993), 5/10
Couple In Spirit II (1996), 5/10
Mujician III (1987), 5/10
The Dartington Concert (1990), 5/10
Dedication Orchestra: Spirits Rejoice (1992), 6.5/10
Dedication Orchestra: Ixesha (1992), 5/10
Une Croix Dans L'Ocean (1994), 6/10
Friday The Thirteenth (1997), 5/10
Mujician: The Journey (1990), 7/10
Mujician: Poem About The Hero (1994), 6.5/10
Mujician: Birdman (1995), 6.5/10
Mujician: Colours Fulfilled (1997), 7/10
Mujician: Spacetime (2001), 6/10
Mujician: There's No Going Back Now (2006) , 6.5/10
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When jazz-rock was born at the end of the 1960s, a number of British musicians adopted it. 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) and especially Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (Vertigo, 1971) came out at the same time that Nucleus and 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.

Tippett also played on South African bassist Harry Miller's Different Times Different Places (1973) along with alto saxophonist Mike Osborne and drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo.

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 and others) has recorded 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 soundsculpting. 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 una delle figure più influenti di quegli anni. Membro dei Blue Notes di Chris MacGregor (dove incontrò il batterista Louis Moholo, il cornettista Mongezi Feza e il sassofnosita Dudu Pukwana), Tippett fondò il suo combo nel 1967. In quei giorni Miles Davis stava rivoluzionando la musica jazz, e Tippett assemblò un gruppo di veri talenti: Elton Dean (sassofono), Mark Charig (tromba), Nick Evans (trombone), Roy Babbington (basso), John Marshall (batteria), etc. I loro album You Are Here I Am There (Vertigo, 1970) e soprattutto Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (Vertigo, 1971) uscirono nello stesso periodo in cui i Nucleus e i Soft Machine stavano abbracciando il jazz-rock. Le tre "famiglie" di musicisti cominciarono a intrattenere rapporti incestuosi che si protenderanno per molti anni. Tippett suonerà anche il pianoforte nel secondo, terzo e quarto album dei King Crimson. Quando Dean e altri si unirono ai Soft Machine, Tippett forma i Centipede, un'orchestra di 50 elementi con musicisti provenienti da esperienze jazz, rock e classiche (John Marshall, Robert Wyatt, Roy Babbington, Brian Godding, Nick Evans, Paul Rutherford, Karl Jenkins, Brian Smith, Gary Windo, Alan Skidmore, Elton Dean, Dudu Pukwana, Marc Charig, Mongesi Feza, Ian Carr, Maggie Nichols, Julie Tippett, Mike Patto, Zoot Money, etc). Quell'orchestra registrò un monolito, Septober Energy (RCA, 1971), prodotto dal chitarrista dei King Crimson Robert Fripp. I Centipede però durarono poco e si sciosero nel 1975.

Il successivo progetto di Tippett, gli Ovary Lodge, proponeva una musica jazz più ortodossa e realizzò tre album: Blueprint (RCA, 1972), Ovary Lodge (RCA, 1973), forse il migliore dei tre, e Ovary Lodge (Ogun, 1975). La cantante del gruppo era sua moglie Julie Driscoll.

Gli Ark furono un tentativo di ripetere la magia dei Centipede: un'orchestra di 22 elementi registrò Frames (Ogun, 1978).

Tippett passò gli anni '80 a realizzare musica non focalizzata e che mostrava un mood un rilassato, quasi new-age.: The Unlonely Raindancer (Universe, 1979), No Gossip (FMP, 1980), due collaborazioni col pianista Howard Riley, First Encounter (Impetus, 1981) and On Focus (Affinity, 1984), Tern (FMP, 1982), A Loose Kite In A Gentle Wind Floating With Only My Will For An Anchor (Ogun, 1984), forse il migliore del decennio, The Supergrass (Island, 1985), Solo Improvisation/Duet Improvisation (Vand'Oeuvre, 1985), Mr Invisible (FMP, 1986), Couple In Spirit (EG, 1987), 66 Shades Of Lipstick (EG, 1990), Twilight Etchings (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 su una serie di brani solisti intitolati Mujician (FMP, 1981), Mujician II (FMP, 1986) e Mujician III (FMP, 1987). Altri brani solisti saranno raccolti su The Dartington Concert (EG, 1990), Une Croix Dans L'Ocean (Victo, 1994), and Friday The Thirteenth (Sakura Notes, 1997).

La sua tecnica di "compisizione spontanea" è stata provata per lo più con l'ensemble Mujician, che include Paul Dunmall (ancia), Paul Rogers (basso) e Tony Levin, e ha registrato The Journey (Cuneiform, 1990), un'improvvisazione di un'ora, Poem About The Hero (Cuneiform, 1994), Birdman (Cuneiform, 1995), Colours Fulfilled (Cuneiform, 1997), forse il migliore, e Spacetime (Cuneiform, 2001), l'ultimo organico e più sperimentale (molti pezzi brevi piuttosto delle consuete jam estese).

La Dedication Orchestra (Tippett, Evan Parker, Louis Moholo, Paul Rutherford, Elton Dean, Lol Coxhill and others) ha pubblicato l'eccellente Spirits Rejoice (Ogun, 1992) e Ixesha (Ogun, 1992).

Keith Tippett ha anche formata un'altra big band, i Tapestry, che si esibisce spesso nei jazz festivals.

Keith Tippett, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper e John Marshall hanno formato anche i SoftWare.

From Granite To Wind (recorded in 2007) featured the Keith Tippett Octet, consisting of Paul Dunmall (here on soprano and tenor saxes), Thad Kelly (bass), Ben Waghorn (tenor sax and bass clarinet), James Gardiner-Bateman (alto sax), Julie Driscoll (voice, lyrics, xylophone and thumb piano), Kevin Figes (alto and baritone saxes) and Pete Fairclough (drums).

The live Two For Joyce (may 2012) documents an improvisation with Italian bassist Giovanni Maier.

Live In Piacenza (january 2012 - Dark Companion, 2016) documents a live performance on piano, a single 47-minute piece.

The Nine Dances Of Patrick O'Gonogon (october 2014), inspired by Irish folk music, featured an octet with Fulvio Sigurta on trumpet & flugelhorn, Sam Mayne on alto & soprano saxes and flute, James Gardiner-Bateman on alto sax, Kieran McLeod & Rob Harvey on trombones, Tom McCredie on bass and Peter Fairclough on drums, plus Julie Tippett on vocals in one piece.

Blazing Flame's second album Murmuration (february 2016) featured Steve Day (voice & percussion), Julie Tippetts (voice), Keith Tippett (piano), Aaron Standon (alto sax), Peter Evans (5-string electric violin), Julian Dale (double bass & cello) and Anton Henley (drums).

Four Quartets (july 2014 - Confront, 2016) documents Tippett (on piano, woodblocks, pebbles, maracas and music box) with Tom Jackson (clarinets), Ashley John Long (basses) and Benedict Taylor (viola).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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