peter blegvad Go Figure (CD, £12.25)
After 19 years, Go Figure marks the Peter Blegvad Trio's return to the studio, in supernal form and now a quintet with Karen Mantler and Bob Drake. Recorded over 10 days, it was made in the old way, with everybody sitting in the same room playing and working on arrangements, then recording as quickly as possible in real time, to capture the minutiae of nuance and interaction – because that's what bands are for. The sound is personal and the playing elastic, the better to support and underpin Peter's quietly subversive chain of lapidary songs, the crystallised sweat of a master of the form. In Brief: Peter, John and Chris first met when Henry Cow was touring with Faust, in 1972. Peter was on secondment from his own group Slapphappy, and in the following year Henry Cow and Slapp Happy merged, making two LPs before they separated again. When John Greaves left Henry Cow in 1976, he joined Peter in New York where they wrote and recorded Kew.Rhone - using Carla Bley and Mike Mantler's Grog Kill studio - where thy first met Karen, then aged 10. Peter and John have continued to work together, on and off, ever since. After making two solo LPs for the still vaguely experimental Virgin Records, the label decided, for commercial reasons, to relieve themselves of most of their founding artists, so Peter's next LP, Downtime, was made independently by ReR – and the core players wound up being the Peter Blegvad Trio. Bob Drake first became involved during the second trio recording, Just Woke Up, which he mixed and mastered. The third, Hangman's Hill, he also engineered - as well as playing on a couple of tracks. Karen joined the trio in 2002 for a festival in Ferrara; Bob's first stage appearance with the band came ten years later, in 2012, at the RIO festival in Carmaux. ReR has been releasing the Blegvad working group's records for 37 years and this is the fourth so far. They don't come easy. Between times the band irregularly tours. PERSONNEL: 1. The Boss: PETER BLEGVAD: Peter is an illustrator, writer, broadcaster and musician. He was born in New York City and is now based in London. In America he recorded and toured with, amongst others, THE GOLDEN PALOMINOS, THE LODGE and JOHN ZORN. In Europe, he co-founded the avant-pop group SLAPP HAPPY, recorded and toured with FAUST, toured with the ART BEARS and worked with HENRY COW and ANDY PARTRIDGE. The Band: JOHN GREAVES: John Greaves was given a bass guitar at the age of 12 by his father - a Welsh dance-band leader, and within six months he was playing in the band. At Cambridge University, in 1969, he joined Henry Cow, eventually leaving in 1976 to work on Kew.Rhone in New York with Peter Blegvad - after which he returned to the UK to work in theatre as a composer, arranger and actor. In early 1978 he joined National Health, remaining with them until they disbanded in 1980, when he began a series of solo projects, releasing several LPs and working at the same time with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and the Michael Nyman Band. In 1984 he moved to France, permanently, forming a series of touring bands and releasing a series of new albums with - amongst others - David Cunningham (of the Flying Lizards), Robert Wyatt, Leslie Caron and Louis Sclavis, at the same time working with Mike Mantler, Jack Buce, Nick Mason and Don Preston. CHRIS CUTLER: Co-founded The Ottawa Music Company at the start of the '70s, a 22-piece Rock composer's orchestra, before joining British experimental group Henry Cow with whom he toured, recorded and worked in dance and theatre projects over the next 8 years. After which, he co co-founded, recorded and toured with a series of mixed national groups: Art Bears, News from Babel, Cassiber, The (ec) Nudes, The Science Group and p53 and was a permanent member of the American bands Pere Ubu, Hail and The Wooden Birds. Outside a succession of special projects for stage, theatre, film and radio he still works intermittently with Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Jon Rose, Tim Hodgkinson, David Thomas, Peter Blegvad, Daan Vandewalle, Stevan Tickmayer, Annie Gosfield, Lotte Anker and the spectralist Hyperion Ensemble. He is a permanent member of The Bad Boys (Cage, Stockhausen, Fluxus &c.), Himmel (for massed fuzz organs), Nimmersat and Half The Sky, and works internationally as an improviser with all the usual suspects in all the usual contexts. KAREN MANTLER: Daughter of Carla Bley and Michael Mantler: American (jazz) musician, singer and composer. She made her musical debut on Carla Bley's Escalator Over the Hill in 1971 and has continued to play in many her mother's ensembles since. After studying at Berklee College of Music, she set up in New York City where she formed her own ensemble, recording two albums for the XtraWATT label: My Cat Arnold (1989) and Get The Flu (1990). Her band toured in Europe and America, appeared on Dave Sanborn's NBC Night Music television show and at the Montreal International Jazz Festival (1991). She recorded two more albums of her own music, Farewell and Pet Project (Virgin Classics) and, in 2003, worked with Robert Wyatt on his album Cuckooland, on which she played keyboards, sang and contributed three of her own compositions.Otherwise, she has performed and recorded with a wide variety of musicians including Steve Swallow, Motohiko Hino, Michael Mantler, Terry Adams, Robbie Dupree, Artie Traum, Peter Blegvad, John Greaves, Chris Cutler, Dagmar Krause, Annie Whitehead, The Golden Palominos and Tony Scherr. She has also featured in countless Hal Willner productions and continues to work closely with Carla Bley as a copyist, art director and personal assistant. BOB DRAKE: Bob has been playing a lot of instruments with - and recording - all sorts of, bands since the early 1970's. He was an important part of Denver's underground music scene from 1978-1989 and a founding member of both Hail and Thinking Plague. In the early 1990's in Los Angeles, he engineered for a wide variety of artists from Ice Cube to Shirley MacLaine. After moving to Europe he joined fellow expatriate Dave Kerman to become part of the 5UU's. In DATE he started making a series of extraordinary solo albums - of which his latest, Arx Pilosa, is the eighth. He has lived at his studio in Southern France, where he has engineered and mastered an awful lot of albums since 1994. He is also known for his definitive re-mastering of classic albums by Art Bears, Cassiber, Henry Cow and others.
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