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The Alex Ward Sextet features several of the most exciting London-based musicians currently working in the fields of composed and improvised music. Growing out of an ensemble originally convened to perform Alex's extended composition "Glass Shelves And Floor", the sextet's repertoire encompasses full-throttle ensemble improvisation plus a varied set of compositions by Ward, drawing on contemporary chamber complexity, avant-rock power and dynamics, and an askew-but-fond relationship to the "jazz" tradition.
OLIE BRICE / double bass
Olie Brice is a jazz and improv double bassist. He is a member of the Riverloam trio (with Mikolaj Trzaska and Mark Sanders) and leads and composes for his own quintet (featuring Mark Hanslip, Alex Bonney, Waclaw Zimpel and Jeff Williams). He has also appeared with a wide range of musicians including Paul Dunmall, Tobias Delius, Achim Kaufmann, Ingrid Laubrock, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Ken Vandermark.
“Brice makes the entire body of his bass sing. He has the ability to deliver a fractal line that is as purposeful as any by the great jazz bassists, but to do so within an entirely abstract setting” - Brian Morton, Point of Departure
TOM JACKSON / clarinet and bass clarinet
Tom Jackson is a clarinettist and saxophonist based in London, largely dedicated to the fields of contemporary classical music and free improvisation. He maintains an exciting, extensive and eclectic performance schedule and has performed throughout Europe, Australia and Hong Kong as well as throughout the UK. He is currently undertaking a PhD funded by AHRC, researching issues of free improvisation. 'Songs from Badly-Lit Rooms', an album of duos with violist Benedict Taylor, was released on Squib-Box in 2013.
"Jackson has a great range: flipping from long unfolding lines to dense clotted knots of spluttering scribble" - Michael Holland, Ears For Eyes
HANNAH MARSHALL / cello
Hannah Marshall is a cellist who is continuing to extract, invent, and exorcize as many sounds and emotional qualities from her instrument as she can. She has been a regular member of Alexander Hawkins’ Ensembles and has toured in Europe and South America with Luc Ex and Veryan Weston’s ensembles – SOL 6 & 12. She plays with ‘String Terrorists’ - Barrel (a trio with violinist Alison Blunt & violist/poet Ivor kallin), and has been invited by Fred Frith and Suichi Chino in their residencies at Café Oto. She also plays with Terry Day, Tim Hodgkinson, Roger Turner, Paul May, Kay Grant, and the London Improvisers Orchestra.
“sublime technical abilities... she reinvents melodic lines, provides spectacular harmonic intervention... sets the pulse around which much of the music revolves” - Raul D’Gama Rose
RACHEL MUSSON / tenor sax
Rachel Musson is a saxophonist, improviser and composer living in London. She is involved with a variety of improvisation projects, one of which, a trio featuring Liam Noble and Mark Sanders, released the album 'Tatterdemalion' on Babel Label in March 2013. Rachel is also working on two duo projects, one with Danish saxophonist Julie Kjaer and the other with bassist Olie Brice. She has also written for and recorded with her own band, Skein, which released a highly acclaimed album on F-IRE Records at the end of 2010. She was picked by BBC Jazz on Three to perform at Cheltenham Jazz Festival last year, and in the same year was nominated for a London Jazz Award. She has performed with Alcyona Mick, Liam Noble, Gail Brand, Olie Brice, Federico Ughi, Mary Halvorson, Sebastian Rochford, among many others.
"Musson’s unusual blend of a melody-building lightness with a raw, free-jazzy multiphonic palette… ought to make her a hot ticket" - John Fordham, The Guardian
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 Peter Brötzmann, 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).
"Unrepeatable moments of collective inspiration and sudden sunlit shafts of modal near melody punctuate the continuing energy blur." Stewart Lee, The Sunday Times
ALEX WARD / clarinet
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 ranges from the duo Dead Days Beyond Help, in which he plays guitar and sings, his group Predicate who perform his compositions, regular improvising groups with Steve Noble, Kay Grant and others, as well as more ad hoc encounters with musicians as diverse as Eugene Chadbourne, Thurston Moore, Joe Morris and Weasel Walter, and co-running the label Copepod with Luke Barlow. 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.
"Alex Ward is one of those players who seems to get interesting music out of anything he touches" - Nate Dorward, Paris Transatlantic