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JOHN RUSSELL guitar [1, 5, 8]
PHIL MINTON voice [2, 3, 5, 8]
JOHN EDWARDS double bass [4, 8]
LOL COXHILL soprano saxophone [6, 8]
CHRIS BURN piano & percussion [7, 8]

2 - PUFFF - 7:38
3 - 'M - 1:02
4 - WOODCUTS - 12:00
5 - WAITING FOR LOL - 1:02
6 - SPEECHLESS - 8:54
7 - TRAPS - 11:53

Digital concert recording - London (Mopomoso at Red Rose)
by Tim Fletcher - 2002 November 17
Total time 69:39

All previously unissued


Excerpts from sleeve notes:

The Mopomoso series of concerts started in the mid-1980s - Mopomoso standing for 'Modernism, post-modernism, so what?' At the time, John Russell was running his Quaqua groupings, and Chris Burn was organising other things at the Red Rose. The two decided to combine and jointly run a monthly series, carrying on like this until a couple of years ago, when Burn withdrew due to pressures of other commitments, leaving Russell as the sole organiser.

The concerts took place on the third Sunday of every month at the Red Rose in Holloway (an inner London suburb). The usual format was to have three groups (commonly duos, trios or soloists) per concert. However, on the occasion heard here, Russell decided to deviate from the norm and have five soloists - five of the finest around.

All of the music performed that evening is heard here in the order of performance. The agreed sequence was for there to be one improvised solo each, followed by a quintet improvisation if time permitted. The end result, as can be heard, was an evening of consistently superb music.



Excerpts from reviews:

"The monthly Mopomoso series of concerts were begun in London in the mid 1980s by guitarist John Russell and pianist Chris Burn. On the occasion documented by this fine Emanem disc, the format was five solos from Burn, Russell, bassist John Edwards, vocalist Phil Minton and soprano saxophonist Lol Coxhill, followed by a quintet improvisation. All soloists are on good form, but most compelling are the explosive Woodcuts by Edwards, and the ironically titled Speechless by Lol Coxhill. Edwards is a free improviser through and through, in contrast to the more evident jazz rooted bassist Paul Rogers, say. Surprisingly this is one of the first completely solo performances he's recorded.

Lol Coxhill is the Queen Mother of free Improv, much loved and respected, even though I assume he doesn't bank at Coutts, but the depth of his achievement has yet to be fully recognised. On his solo, his eloquence is drawn from years of improvising experience, and from who knows what dark recesses of the imagination. The tone is incredibly strong, piercing at times without being shrill, the lines are incisive, and there's a greater variety of effects - turkey gobbling, glissandos, duck cries and tender moments. Burn's Traps draws in part on some of the effects heard on his previous, fine interpretations of the music of Henry Cowell. The title of the quintet track, Quintet 'Til The End Of Time, maybe refers to the way the group have tried to banish the traditional jazz time out of which most of their improvising evolved. Minton's bulimia impressions are again prominent. A great disc, among the best of some excellent recent Emanem recordings."


"This album documents a single Mopomoso evening, where five of London's best free improvisers performed solos, with the evening coming to a close with a quintet performance. No amplification, no electronics, no written-down material (with the exception of Bob Cobbing's sound poem 'M interpreted by Phil Minton). The CD begins with John Russell's solo. The guitarist strums awkward chords, studying the resonances of his instrument in depth (without falling into Taku Sugimoto-like silence). It is a slightly uninvolving performance, especially when compared to the rest of the evening. Phil Minton's short solo (seven and a half minutes) is typical of his recent output and evolves naturally into Cobbing's piece. John Edwards' bass solo Woodcuts provides the first of the disc¹s two highlights: hypnotic and riveting, the piece unfolds with irresistible (but indescribable) logic. After a short duo interlude by Minton and Russell, Lol Coxhill takes the stage to deliver a strong, but rather unsurprising, soprano sax solo. His performance is soon eclipsed by pianist Chris Burn's, the other highlight. For 12 minutes, Burn reinvents the prepared piano, producing such a large tapestry of sounds this reviewer found himself going back to the back tray of the CD to make sure this wasn't the quintet track. And when that track finally comes, all the individual elements seamlessly fall into place, the resulting music sounding like it had been floating around in the Red Rose all evening, patiently waiting to be harvested, a prime example of acoustic group improvisation."


"It's always nice listening to good improvisers, especially when they're saliently united like in this evening at the Red Rose in London. John Edwards' solo is essential and concise, strong and willing to punch, and to exchange ideas with the victim of the punch, too. Phil Minton's stomach-ripping visions have such uniqueness that you can almost put your finger on people's suffering - but also have fun when it's the case. Chris Burn's Traps uses mostly piano interiors in a percussive ritual, bumping and rattling its way throughout an interesting segment. Lol Coxhill is in complete control of any single nuance of his instrument, so that he can make a sound like a crow or an angel. Also very characteristic is John Russell's approach to guitar's 'not-easy-to-sound-fresh' strumming and harmonics picking; the guitar is a BAD beast as far as free music is concerned but John has a good resolve. The final quintet is a showcase for everyone's musicianship, sounding balanced and never discombobulating. For those who want to have a first contact with Emanem artists, this is surely a good choice."


"Burn's own contribution on Traps is influenced to some extent by the work of mavarick piano composer Henry Cowell. It's a fine piece, but upstaged by the wonderful contributions of the others, Minton and Coxhill in particular."

RICHARD COOK & BRIAN MORTON - The Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS, 9th edition 2008


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