Keith Tippett

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Keith Tippett Solo
Keith Tippett piano, woodblocks, chimes, bells, pebbles
Every Tippett solo improvisation is special, with the piano language truly opened up to orchestral proportions. He uses what might be called an unprepared piano, with woodblocks, pebbles, chimes and music boxes ready to be used inside the piano as the mood suggests itself. This technical mastery and virtuosity is all secondary to the beauty of the music he creates, every performance unique.
… his basic language is undetermined by any organizing principle except his unfailing sense of beauty—Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (5th ed., 2000)

It may turn out that the three albums made for FMP during the 1980s will be regarded as the most self-consistent and beautiful solo improvisations of the decade and a significant reprogramming of the language of piano—Penguin Guide to Jazz

Couple in Spirit [more info]
Keith Tippett piano, woodblocks, music boxes Julie Tippetts voice, thumb instruments

Presented with distinctive warmth, Tippett’s wholly improvised duo performances with vocalist wife Julie Tippetts (who is likely to play thumb piano, wind chimes, recorder, poetry, etc., as the mood suits) bear evidence of how a longstanding artistic chemistry can create a special musical magic.

We never rehearse together or talk about what we’re going to do. You’re living on your nerve ends. It’s like being in a dream and yet awake at the same time because you have to respond as well as to instigate and your whole body is tuned to going for the magic—Julie Tippetts

Peter Fairclough and Keith Tippett [more info]
Keith Tippett piano, woodblocks, chimes Peter Fairclough drums, percussion

The great strength of a musician like Peter Fairclough [British drummer, percussionist and composer] is that he never sounds as though he’s hitting anything, even when he is playing forcefully. Keith Tippett is, in this regard, a perfect partner and foil. How many times have reviewers attempted to describe his piano playing as ‘percussive but lyrical’, or words to that effect? Often, on Wild Silk, Fairclough sounds to be playing a melody line to one of Tippett’s flowing, multi-layered accompaniments. In addition to keyboard, Tippett also leans deep into the piano interior, using his favoured woodblocks and pebbles on the strings, always sounding fresh and spontaneous never ‘prepared’—Review of Wild Silk, their only recorded collaboration, in Penguin Guide to Jazz

Wild Silk is a classic of 90s free Improv—The Wire

Mujician [more info]
Keith Tippett piano Paul Dunmall saxophones, bagpipes Paul Rogers six-string double bass Tony Levin drums

A true collective, this outstanding and peerless quartet formed in 1988 has performed at many major European Festivals and has just released its fifth album for Cuneiform. Devoted to free improvisation with no predetermined structures or architecture listeners may hear folk, classical, blues or jazz roots glistening from within any piece. Quiet and reflective or loud and proud, Mujician create mesmerising spontaneous compositions that bristle with excitement and energy.

…stands alongside the finest free music being played on either side of the Atlantic—Penguin Guide to Jazz

Linuckea [more info]
Keith Tippett piano David Le Page violin Christopher George violin Malcolm Allison viola Philip Sheppard cello

Composed by Keith Tippett. Originally commissioned by the Kreutzer Quartet this has been given a new lease of life with a stunning performance as part of the Rare Music Club and a subsequent, very successful, UK tour in a double bill with Mujician. Full of melodies and compositional invention this piece has all the intensity and lyricism of Bartok and Janacek, coupled with live improvisation and Tippett genius.

This is contemporary music at its broadest, richest, inclusive best. Labels are even more irrelevant than usual—Jazz Review

This really is a fully integrated quintet rather than piano plus quartet, five players conceived as a single organism. Composed music it may be, but it’s fundamentally continuous with Tippett’s years of spontaneous interaction with diverse highly accomplished yet idiosyncratic musicians … Linuckea is unequivocally another landmark work from the mujician—The Wire

Linuckea stands at an important point in the music’s history for what Tippett is creating here is surely a ‘future chamber music’ and something that cries out to be performed, live, created ‘in the moment’—Jazzwise


This is the latest in a long line of Tippett’s big band projects that have included Centipede and Ark, and, like them, Tapestry is utterly original and unique. Containing a phenomenal ‘A’ list of twenty-one British jazz musicians and improvisers this band has performed to great acclaim at Festivals in Ruvo (Italy), Le Mans (France), Bath (England), Victoriaville (Canada) and Lisbon (Portugal). As yet unrecorded on CD this piece First Weaving is a dynamic full throttle affair, burning with electricity, swing and passion. Two fantastic performances in 2002 took place at FIMAV, Victoriaville, Canada, and Jazz em Agosto, Lisbon, Portugal. The latter Festival also showcased Keith Tippett solo and the Paul Dunmall Octet.

Keith Tippett’s First Weaving, directed by the composer with
Tenor saxophones Paul Dunmall, Simon Picard, Larry Stabbins
Alto saxophones Elton Dean, Kevin Figes, Ben Waghorn
Trumpets Henry Lowther, Jim Dvorak, Mark Charig, Gethin Liddington
Trombones Paul Rutherford, Malcolm Griffiths, Dave Amis
Tuba Oren Marshall
Voices Julie Tippetts, Maggie Nicols, Vivien Ellis
Piano Keith Tippett
Double bass Paul Rogers
Drums Louis Moholo, Tony Levin

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