Letter: Tony Oxley the experimenter


The break-up of the Joseph Holbrooke Trio didn’t occur shortly after accompanying Lee Konitz on tour in March 1966, because the excellent obituary of my buddy Tony Oxley had it initially. In actual fact it got here in November that yr after we carried out thrice on the identical Saturday: lunchtime, as typical, in Sheffield; in a Northampton artwork gallery within the afternoon; and on the Little Theatre Membership in central London. That evening I put my bass in its case and didn’t play it once more for 17 years.

I didn’t see Tony once more for 32 years, till we have been reunited in Germany for his sixtieth birthday concert events. Even with no rehearsal, and even dialog concerning the music, our efficiency was unusually uncomfortable however gratifying, and after that we performed extra – on the Barbican memorial live performance for the guitarist Derek Bailey, the opposite member of the unique trio, organised by John Zorn for instance – and Tony and his spouse, Tutta, would come to performances of my operas in Germany.

Within the earlier days of the trio, earlier than we moved into free taking part in, Tony and I spent hours in my front room practising taking part in time: I performed limitless strolling bass traces whereas he experimented with the advanced subdivisions of the beat that Richard Williams mentions.

However Tony was at all times open to experimentation. For instance, we listened collectively to my copy of the 25-year retrospective live performance of music by John Cage on the City Corridor of NY city. He tried to recreate on his cymbals the extraordinary modifications of pitch which can be a characteristic of the tam-tams in Cage’s First Development in Metallic, and succeeded to a level. It was solely later, once I obtained the rating, that we discovered that the impact had been made (rather more simply) by dipping the gongs in water…


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