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ISKRA 1903 (Rutherford, Paul / Wachsmann, Philipp / Guy, Barry): Chapter Two, 1981-1983 [3 CDs] (Emanem)


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product information:

UPC: 5030243430321

Label: Emanem
Catalog ID: 4303
Squidco Product Code: 7207

Format: 3 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2006
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Box
Analog concert recording by Philipp Wachsmann at various locations between 1981 and 1983.


Paul Rutherford-trombone, euphonium, electronics

Philipp Wachsmann-violin, electronics

Barry Guy-doublebass, electronics

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Artist Biographies:

"Paul William Rutherford (29 February 1940 - 5 August 2007) was an English free improvising trombonist. Born in Greenwich, South East London, Rutherford initially played saxophone but switched to trombone. During the 1960s, he taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In 1970, Rutherford, guitarist Derek Bailey and bassist Barry Guy formed the improvising group Iskra 1903, which lasted until 1973. The formation was documented on a double album from Incus, later reissued with much bonus material on the 3-CD set Chapter One (Emanem, 2000). A film soundtrack was separately released as Buzz Soundtrack. Iskra 1903 was one of the earliest free improvising groups to omit a drummer/percussionist, permitting the players to explore a range of textures and dynamics which set it apart from such other contemporary improvising ensembles as SME and AMM. The group's unusual name is the Russian word for "spark"; it was the title of the Iskra revolutionary newspaper edited by Lenin. The "1903" designation means "20th century music for trio"; occasionally Evan Parker played with the group (Iskra 1904) and Rutherford also at one point assembled a 12-piece ensemble called, inevitably, Iskra 1912. The group was later revived with Philipp Wachsmann replacing Bailey, a phase of the group's life that lasted from roughly 1977 to 1995; its earlier work is documented on Chapter Two (Emanem, 2006) and its final recordings were issued on Maya (Iskra 1903) and Emanem (Frankfurt 1991).

Rutherford also played with Globe Unity Orchestra, London Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Centipede, the Mike Westbrook Orchestra, and the Orckestra, a merger of avant-rock group Henry Cow, the Mike Westbrook Brass Band and folk singer Frankie Armstrong. He also played a very small number of gigs with Soft Machine. He is perhaps most famous for solo trombone improvisations. His album The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie is a landmark recording in solo trombone and his 1983 Trio album Gheim, recorded at the Bracknell Jazz Festival is another acclaimed work.

Rutherford died of cirrhosis of the liver and a ruptured aorta on 5 August 2007, aged 67."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Philipp Wachsmann. Born Uganda, 1944; violin, viola and electronics.

In the CD booklet to Gushwachs, John Corbett notes that Phillip Wachsmann came to free improvisation from a predominantly classical background, particularly via the contemporary experiments of "indeterminacy, graphic and prose-based scores, conceptualism and electroacoustics, listening to Webern, Partch, Ives, Berio and Varèse, reading 'Die Reihe' and interrogating the rhythmic, harmonic and melodic preoccupations of Western art music. Starting in 1969, Wachsmann was a member of Yggdrasil, an ensemble performing works by Cage, Cardew, Feldman, Ashley and others and in this group he used contact mikes on the violin and made his own electronic instruments, ring modulators and routing devices. Ironically, his studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris (1969-1970) pushed him hard in the direction of free music. He recalls: 'Despite her neoclassical orientation, her insistence that composition is about the imagination of performance and its realisation, the live moment, and her stunning ability to make this happen was a powerful influence on me, steering towards 'performance' and therefore 'improvisation'.'"

Wachsmann moved from Yggdrasil to Chamberpot - recorded on Bead 2 - and shortly thereafter appeared on Tony Oxley's influential February papers, forward looking in the virtual 'industrial' orientation of some of the tracks, years before this became an accepted genre; the two musicians have continued to work together, in various groupings but notably in the percussionist's Celebration Orchestra. Philipp Wachsmann has also performed and/or recorded with: Derek Bailey's Company, e.g. on the recording Epiphanies; Georg Graewe; Barry Guy; Iskra 1903; King Übü Orchestrü; London Jazz Composers' Orchestra; Evan Parker, particularly as part of the Evan Parker Electronic Project; Quintet Moderne; Fred Van Hove's ML DD 4; Rüdiger Carl's COWWS (now CPWWS) Quintet; and Lines, with Martin Blume, Jim Denley, Axel Dörner and Marcio Mattos. He also plays as a solo musician.

Phillip Wachsmann also administers Bead Records."

-EFI: European Free Improv (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Barry John Guy (born 22 April 1947, in London) is a British composer and double bass player. His range of interests encompasses early music, contemporary composition, jazz and improvisation, and he has worked with a wide variety of orchestras in the UK and Europe. He also taught at Guildhall School of Music.

Born in London, Guy came to the fore as an improvising bassist as a member of a trio with pianist Howard Riley and drummer Tony Oxley (Witherden, 1969). He also became an occasional member of John Stevens' ensembles in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. In the early 1970s, he was a member of the influential free improvisation group Iskra 1903 with Derek Bailey and trombonist Paul Rutherford (a project revived in the late 1970s, with violinist Philipp Wachsmann replacing Bailey). He also formed a long-standing partnership with saxophonist Evan Parker, which led to a trio with drummer Paul Lytton which became one of the best-known and most widely travelled free-improvising groups of the 1980s and 1990s. He was briefly a member of the Michael Nyman Band in the 1980s, performing on the soundtrack of The Draughtsman's Contract.

Guy's interests in improvisation and formal composition received their grandest form in the London Jazz Composers Orchestra. Originally formed to perform Guy's composition Ode in 1972 (released as a 2-LP set on Incus and later, in expanded form, as a 2-CD set on Intakt), it became one of the great large-scale European improvising ensembles. Early documentation is spotty - the only other recording from its early years is Stringer (FMP, now available on Intakt paired with the later "Study II") - but beginning in the late 1980s the Swiss label Intakt set out to document the band more thoroughly. The result was a series of ambitious, album-length compositions designed to give all the players in the band maximum opportunity for expression while still preserving a rigorous sense of form: Zurich Concerts, Harmos, Double Trouble (originally written for an encounter with Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra, though the eventual CD was just for the LJCO), Theoria (a concerto for guest pianist Irène Schweizer), Three Pieces, and Double Trouble Two. The group's activities subsided in the mid-1990s, but it was never formally disbanded, and reconvened in 2008 for a one-off concert in Switzerland. In the mid-1990s Guy also created a second, smaller ensemble, the Barry Guy New Orchestra.

Guy has also written for other large improvising ensembles, such as the NOW Orchestra and ROVA (the piece Witch Gong Game inspired by images by the visual artist Alan Davie).

His current improvising activities include piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Agusti Fernandez. He has also recorded several albums for ECM, which often focus on the interface between improvisers and electronics, including his work in Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble and his own Ceremony.

Guy's session work in the pop field includes playing double bass on the song "Nightporter", from the Japan album Gentlemen Take Polaroids.

He is married to the early music violinist Maya Homburger. After spending some years in Ireland, they now live in Switzerland. They run the small label Maya, which releases a variety of records in the genres of free improvisation, baroque music and contemporary composition.

Guy's jazz work is characterised by free improvisation, using a range of unusual playing methods: bowed and pizzicato sounds beneath the bass's bridge; plucking the strings above the left hand; beating the strings with percussion instrument mallets; and "preparing" the instrument with sticks and other implements inserted between the strings and fingerboard. His improvisations are often percussive and unpredictable, inhabiting no discernible harmonic territory and pushing into unknown regions. However, they can also be melodious and tender with due regard for harmonic integration with other players, and at times he will even play with a straight jazz swing feel.

Similarly, in his concert works, Guy manages to alternate harmonic and rhythmic complexity worthy of 1960s experimentalists such as Penderecki and Stockhausen with joyous, often ecstatic, melody. Works such as "Flagwalk" for string orchestra and "Fallingwater - Concerto for Orchestra" display Guy's compositional skill in handling extended forms and writing for large instrumental groups.

Some of his compositions, such as "Witch Gong Game" for ensemble, use graphic notation in conjunction with cue cards to lead performers into playing and improvising material from numbered sections of the score.

He is also an architect."

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

A1 - DIEPTAUR - 26:32

A2 - PHELGSTAR - 26:54

A3 - PANSHANTON - 24:13

B1 - VEPROL - 24:36

B2 - EIVERL - 8:02

B3 - EMINGHA - 28:55

B4 - MARIB - 6:14

C1 - STOLERI - 35:24

C2 - VENDIA - 24:12

C3 - EPIS - 16:34

All analogue concert recordings by Philipp Wachsmann (except A1):

A1 - London (Pied Bull) 1981 August 16

A2, A3 - Southampton (Arts Centre) 1983 December 1

B1, B2 - Liverpool (Bluecoat Arts Centre) 1983 December 2

B3, B4 - Birmingham (Aston University Arts Centre) 1983 December 4

C1 - Bristol (Arnolfini) 1983 December 6

C2, C3 - London (Seven Dials) 1983 March 17

Total time 222:37
descriptions, reviews, &c.

The second edition of Paul Rutherford's trio Iskra 1903, with Barry Guy and Philipp Wachsmann, lasted from around 1977 to 1995. Yet, until this release, the only issued recordings of this superb group are from its latter years. Fortunately, Wachsmann recorded many earlier performances, and he recently selected these five superb gigs from 1983.

The three December concerts from Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol come from a Contemporary Music Network tour of Britain. These represent Iskra 1903 when it was using more electronics than before or since. In addition to the strings using pedal-controlled amplification, Guy and Rutherford used bespoke electronic boxes made by Ian Mackintosh, and Wachsmann used his own system of electronics which he developed during this period. All were characterised by being 'self controlled' by each musician. The result is a soundscape that is, at times, more electronic than acoustic. An additional colour comes from Rutherford's occasional use of a tambourine as a mute.

The Southampton concert was not part of this tour, even though it occured between the first two tour concerts - the November 30 London concert not being included here. Rutherford plays euphonium on the first Southampton piece, PHELGSTAR, and trombone on all others in this collection.

The final two pieces come from a London gig earlier that year, when the electronics were less pronounced. Evan Parker is added on the second piece, EPIS, to make the group Iskra 1904. (Parker also played with the first edition, but no usable recordings appear to have survived.)"-Martin Davidson, from the sleeve notes

Related Categories of Interest:

EMANEM & psi
Improvised Music
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Electro-Acoustic Improv
December 2006
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Free Improvisation
Trio Recordings
Instant Rewards

Other Releases With These Artists:
Rutherford, Paul / Ken Vandermark / Torsten Muller / Dylan van der Schyff
Are We In Diego?
Rutherford, Paul
In Backward Times (1979-2007)
Guy, Barry
(Trost Records)
Dean, Elton Quintet
Welcomet - Live in Brazil, 1986
Wickihalder, Jurg / Barry Guy / Lucas Niggli
Guy, Barry / Marilyn Crispell / Paul Lytton
Deep Memory
Guy, Barry
The Blue Shroud
Rutherford, Paul / Sabu Toyozumi
The Conscience [VINYL]
Guy, Barry / Eddie Prevost / Evan Parker / Keith Rowe
Frith, Fred / Barry Guy
Backscatter Bright Blue
Rutherford, Paul Trio
Gheim - live at Bracknell 1983
Guy, Barry New Orchestra
Amphi + Radio Rondo
Parker, Evan / Paul Rutherford / Hans Schneider / Paul Lytton
Waterloo 1985
Oxley, Tony with Bailey / Rutherford / Thomas / &c.
A Birthday Tribute - 75 Years
Parker, Evan / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton
Live at Maya Recordings Festival [VINYL 2 LPs]
Parker, Evan / Barry Guy / Paul Lytton
Live at Maya Recordings Festival
Schlippenbach, Alexander Von
The Living Music [VINYL]
(Cien Fuegos)
Weber, Katharina
Games And Improvisations
Rutherford / Muller / Eisenstadt
The Zone
Niggli, Lucas Big Zoom
Amalgam (Watts / Clyne / Stevens / Guy)
Prayer For Peace [VINYL]
Parker / Guy / Lytton + Peter Evans
Scenes in the House of Music
(Clean Feed)
Free Jazz Quartet
Memories For The Future
Rutherford, Paul
Tetralogy 2CD
Moholo, Loius / Evan Parker Quintet
Bush Fire
Parker, Evan
Hook, Drift & Shuffle
Iskra 1903
Buzz Soundtrack
Various Artists
Freedom of the City Festival 2005 [2 CDs]
Various Artists
Free Zone Appleby 2004
Dunmall, Paul Octet
(Clean Feed)
Sandell, Sten / David Stackenas with Parker / Guy / Lytton
Recommended & Related Releases:
Other Recommended Releases:
Rutherford, Paul
In Backward Times (1979-2007)
Guy, Barry
(Trost Records)
Rutherford, Paul / Sabu Toyozumi
The Conscience
Rutherford, Paul Trio
Gheim - live at Bracknell 1983
Wachsman / Thomas / Turner / Frangenheim
Gateway '97
(Creative Sources)

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