The “Improvisations” trio was born out of a collective desire to play creative music in a way that we are not often afforded the chance to do. Original bassist Steve Clark, Ted Peacock, and I played together in a variety of different situations going back over 20 years. For about 5 of those years I was constantly threatening the two of them with the idea that we would form a trio in which we would play all of the music that, as Steve says, might get us fired from all our other gigs. Though the idea had germinated for some time, the trio first took the stage at the Rosewood Lounge in the London Music Hall of Fame in May of 2019 as part of that year’s “Jazz Night” during London Music Week. Though we have all studied and played jazz to one degree or another over the years to, this group is decidedly on the fringes of what might be commonly accepted as “jazz.” There is improvisation, but it is not generally using the language of Bebop and Swing. We tend towards the straight-eighths and sixteenths of Rock and Funk. We don’t really play standards. We’re loud and distorted. We use effects pedals.
In 2021 Steve retired from live music and bassist Kim Ladd joined the trio. The transition was smooth and Kim brings with him a similar passion for creative music.
In concept this group builds upon my lifetime interest in improvised musics. When I was in high school my first exposure to going out regularly to see live music was to attend these really quirky free improvisation nights at the Embassy Cultural house, where local legend Eric Stach would take the stage and challenge preconceptions of consonance, dissonance, musical conversation, and creativity. He would pair musicians who wouldn’t have normally played together: a rock guitarist mixed with saxophone, french horn, cello, and drums one week could see trumpet, electric bass, clarinet, and percussion supplant them the next. These were heady times for a teenager intrigued by music that was well left-of-centre compared to what my contemporaries were listening to. My interest in improvised music dovetailed nicely with my studies in jazz improvisation and my love for the “jam band” tradition stretching back to the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band and tracing a line through to Phish, The Aquarium Rescue Unit in the 1990s.
More recently, I’ve been heavily influenced by New York guitarists Oz Noy and Wayne Krantz, with Krantz’s concepts around improvising being particularly interesting to me. I’ve immersed myself in Krantz’s concepts around rhythmic playing, spontaneous arrangement, and the difference between compositional improvising and improvising that seeks to break new ground in every instance.
Thankfully, the players involved have taken to the project with real enthusiasm and rigour. We owe a great debt to our friend Mario Circelli and his work with the London Music Hall of Fame for providing us with a venue to conduct these explorations.
You download all of the band’s performances from the Rosewood and other venues on my Bandcamp page. These are “pay-what-you-want.”
You can also watch the performances on this playlist: