- Jazz for Modernists 4 – Interview with drummer Guy Evans (Part 1)
- Jazz for Modernists 3 – Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 2)
- Jazz for Modernists 2 – Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 1)
- Jazz for Modernists 1- Intro
- Jazz for Modernists 5 – Interview with drummer Guy Evans (Part 2)
- Jazz for Modernists 8 – Interview with Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett (Part 1)
- Jazz for Modernists 8 – Interview with Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett (Part 2)
Here is part 2 of JTM’s interview with Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett.
09: The period 1967-1972 was generally one of great dialogue between jazz, blues, folk, improvisational forms and rock music. On a personal level, did you experience this as a process of mutual discovery, each of you learning about the other’s musical backgrounds?
KEITH: As in our lives where we have grown together, also in the music. And may I take this opportunity to state that Centipede and the composition Septober Energy (1971) encompasses all these genres. Performing live with an orchestra including Jazz musicians/Soul and progressive rock musicians/improvising musicians and classical musicians had never been done before or since.
Centipede, Septober Energy (1971)
10: In April, 1971, Julie, you recorded Quartet Sequence, with The Spontaneous Music Ensemble. How did this come about and what was it like to step into this new area of improvisational singing?
JULIE: Our shared manager at the time, Giorgio Gomelsky, was also recording people like John Stevens and John McLaughlin, so I had the opportunity to listen to and try out all sorts of diverse musical areas of creation. Joining The Spontaneous Music Ensemble with John Stevens, Trevor Watts and Ron Herman was part of a natural progression moving into a freer approach to playing. As was (Ovary Lodge (with Keith, Frank Perry and Harry Miller), and collaborations with [previous SME member] Maggie Nicols. She and I set up our friendship and teamwork in Centipede. We did lots of improvising together in preparation for the concerts. We have always had an incredible rapport.
Spontaneuous Music Ensemble, Frameworks
11: Much of this music is considered ‘improvisational’ or ‘experimental’. Is improvisation primarily a response to another musician’s performance or is it aiming to represent something tangible (a landscape, an idea, an emotion etc)?
KEITH: It is definitely not experimental. Composition is frozen improvisation. The ability to solidify on paper the idea you have created in sound. This is just the start. Likewise with the technology available today, what starts as an improvisation in a Dartington concert can be heard on a beach in Bali on cd 5 months later. All composers are improvisers.
12: Julie, you have periodically returned to more ‘conventional’ song forms throughout your career, working again with Brian Auger on Encore (1978), Fire in the Mountain (1989) with Working Week and quite recently, Sessions (2008) with Nostalgia 77 (with Keith). How would you describe the main differences in approach to structured song and improvisational singing?
JULIE: I love music… My privilege has been, being open enough to be part of many genres. I feel comfortable in composed or spontaneous music.
13: In 1975, you recorded Sunset Glow, a recording that in parts evokes for me works like Tim Buckley’s Starsailor (1970), Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom (1974) and Linda Perhac’s Parallelograms (1970). For those who love your 1960s work, could this LP be the gateway into your more experimental work, perhaps the one they could relate to most?
JULIE: I don’t think so really. For me personally, I can’t possibly make that statement. I have loved every limb of the body of work I have produced or been part of producing. It’s all part of the same journey. How people conceive it, or accept it, is part of their journey.
Julie Tippetts, Sunset Glow (1975)
14: Keith, during the 1980s and 1990s, you actively promoted the Rare Music Club in Bristol, an arena for experimental and collaborative music, based in part around your group Mujician. What were the major successes of that and did the experience make you optimistic about future music in Britain?
KEITH: The Rare Music club put on a programme of improvised music/jazz/20th century/contemporary western classical music/ and folk music from various countries. At least 3 different musics per night. Wonderful idea. I thought it would be commercial. I was wrong. Mujician was the house band and we were subsidizing guest artists. There was no profit whatsoever. Even with a hard-working committee raising small amounts of money, we could only sustain the club by the musicians’ good will. We had some headline, internationally known artists, and prosperous Bristol (a University city) did not have interest enough – particularly local musicians and students. The future of non-commercial music is in more danger now in the UK than it has ever been (with the exception of contemporary western classical music, which the establishment funds)… Thank God for Europe… ps…I worked more in Tokyo last year than my home town Bristol!!
Mujician (Paul Dunmall, Keith Tippett, the late Tony Levin, Paul Rodgers)
15: Keith, teaching has been important to you and you include many younger musicians in your improvising groups and write scores for younger musicians to perform. When you perform, you always seem to be interested in how they respond to your musical cues and suggestions…..
KEITH: Younger musicians are the future of course… musical cues and suggestions are of course discussed and rehearsed. I also am still working with many of the older comrades who were first-generation creators of improvised music.
16: Are you hopeful about the future of jazz and improvisational music?
KEITH: I am hopeful to an extent. However Europe (East and West) is where the work place is. The audiences also seem to be more knowledgeable.
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