Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ALEXANDER von SCHLIPPENBACH & TONY OXLEY – Digger's Harvest (1998)

Label: FMP – FMP CD 103
Format: CD, Album; Country: Germany - Released: 1999
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded live during the Total Music Meeting '98 on November 5 & 7, 1998, at the "Podewil" in Berlin.
Artwork – Tony Oxley
Layout – Jost Gebers
Liner Notes – Bert Noglik, Peter Niklas Wilson
Photography By – Dagmar Gebers
Producer – Jost Gebers
Recorded By – Holger Scheuermann, Jonas Bergler
Translated By [Liner Notes] – Isabel Seeberg, Paul Lytton

The art of the duet is displayed admirably on Digger’s Harvest by Schlippenbach and Oxley. Using their creative energies and the inherent musical affinity between them, they go on an extended voyage of individual and joint expression. Schlippenbach begins with a deceptively angular style with fingers stabbing at single notes, but he accelerates from zero to sixty in no time flat. Spanning the keyboard in rush-hour frenzy, he builds the set’s nearly half-hour opener into a mad dash and then with screeching brakes slows the pace down to a more reasonable speed. Schlippenbach uses this technique regularly throughout the long program to keep the music off balance and challenging. He states a theme with short strokes and then widens the range with a flurry of notes generated around the core concept. His methodology in developing his solos in this manner is intriguing. A kernel of an idea is expressed, and it then explodes into a plethora of notes spanning the entire range of the keyboard. The process is repeated and new ideas flow in natural succession.
Oxley uses a jagged-edged percussion style in accentuating Schlippenbach’s direction. His playing provides a staccato beat of sudden bursts of energy that take on a muted tone. Oxley frequently uses the deadened edges of his kit to underscore the piano rather than compete with it. He develops a convulsive sound of irregular rhythm and interrupted beat that is the perfect complement to the music pouring from Schlippenbach’s fingers. It has the unsystematic motion of fits and starts, yet it results in amazing musicality when countered by the equally spasmodic outpouring from the piano. It is as though he is playing a game of cat and mouse with Schlippenbach. The piano statement is made, and Oxley expels a fitful round of gunfire under, around, and above it. He hears Schlippenbach and knows exactly where he is going. The music of these two is challenging. It has extensive subtlety that requires very careful listening to absorb the message fully. The effort will be a truly worthwhile exercise.

_ By  Frank Rubolino
from: Cadence Magazine # 4, April 2000

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  2. Thanks for this Vitko . . . anything with Oxley!

  3. Thanks Vitko. Ploughing through this one just now - a feast!

  4. Small story:

    In the early 1970s, Oxley met Alan Davie, a painter who would have a profound impact on Oxley’s artistic life. Davie phoned Oxley to ask if he, Paul Rutherford, and Evan Parker were interested in performing at a gallery where Davie had an exhibit. When Oxley accepted, he discovered that Davie was profoundly interested in music, and often performed on an array of instruments. They began meeting regularly at Davie’s home where they performed together and recorded their music. Besides Bailey, Davie is one of the people that Oxley owes most of his musical development. As a musician, Alan Davie doesn’t start from either classical music or jazz. He looked for his own path very singlemindedly and found it. In 1974, Davie gave Oxley a violin. Oxley quickly discovered the rhythmic possibilities in the instrument, and has since had an abiding interest in working with string ensembles of all kinds.