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Grant, Kay & Alex Ward: Fast Talk (Emanem)

The London improvising scene duo of vocalist Kay Grant, a former Downtown NY artists, and clarinetist Alex Ward, have been playing together for decades, here recorded in four live performances and a studio session.

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product information:

UPC: 5030243502127

Label: Emanem
Catalog ID: 5021
Squidco Product Code: 15428

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2011
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Cardstock gatefold foldover
Tracks 1-4 recorded at Vortex Sound Club on June 20th, 2010. Track 5 recorded at Salisbury Hotel on February 15th, 2008. Tracks 6-7 recorded at The Yacht Club on December 15th, 2008. Track 8 recorded at Bar&Co on June 15th, 2009. Tracks 9-10 recorded at The Audio Ward on April 20th, 2011. Recorded by Martin Davidson, Kay Grant, and Alex Ward.


Kay Grant-voice

Alex Ward-clarinet

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Artist Biographies:

"Kay Grant is a vocalist whose work is informed by experience in a range of styles including jazz, opera, rock and pop. Considering the voice as an instrumental component rather than a privileged expressive vehicle, she uses her far reaching vocal range along with a wealth of stylistic elements, tones, colours and noises, playing with imagination, energy and sensitivity.

Although born in Brooklyn, an early holiday to visit family in London left her determined to call it home, and sheÕs been a dedicated Londoner for half her life. Grant originally took to the stage at the age of six, singing musical theatre alongside her parents in local productions. She played violin and flute in her school orchestra and big band and sang in choir, winning an award for best musical student at the age of 12. When her interest in voice became more serious she began studying privately. She received a scholarship to sing with the Oratorio Society of New York performing at Carnegie Hall, sang with the Connecticut Opera and played Gretel in Hansel und Gretel.

Discovering the avant garde and free improvisation, she became increasingly drawn to contemporary music and composition, and began a series of collaborations with a range of downtown New York figures Š including performances of Cobra and free improv group workouts with John Zorn, recordings and live appearances with Elliott SharpÕs Carbon and combinations with instrumentalists such as cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and percussionist Michael Evans."

-Kay Grant Website (

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"Alex Ward was born in 1974. He is a composer, improviser, and performing musician. His primary instruments are clarinet and guitar, and he has also performed in public and on recordings on alto sax, piano/keyboards, bass guitar, and as a vocalist. He was based in Oxford from 1992-2000, and since then has lived in London.

His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. As an improviser, he was initially principally a clarinettist (sometimes also playing alto sax), but since 2000 he has also been active as an improvising guitarist. On both instruments, hIs longest-standing collaborations in this field have been with the drummer Steve Noble.

From 1993 to 2001, most of his activity as a composer took place in collaboration with Benjamin Hervé, mainly in the context of the rock band Camp Blackfoot. From 2002-2005, his writing was mostly done solo, and was primarily focused on songs. Since 2006, he has been heavily involved in both solo and collaborative composition, predominantly (though not exclusively) of instrumental music. Much of his writing and performing during this time has been done with Dead Days Beyond Help, a duo with drummer Jem Doulton. He also currently leads a number of bands including Predicate, Forebrace, The Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet, and Alex Ward & The Dead Ends.

He has been a member of many other groups including ensembles led by Eugene Chadbourne, Simon H. Fell and Duck Baker, and has also done various work as a session musician and in collaboration with other media. Since 2005, he has co-run the label Copepod Records with composer/performer Luke Barlow. He does the recording, mixing and/or mastering of most of his own music, and for many of the groups he plays in." (

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track listing:

1. May I have this Dance 5:12

2. And Another Thing 7:32

3. Consider the Alternative 4:07

4. Wood for Trees 4:43

5. Salisbury Blues 7:15

6. You Don't Say 5:46

7. Thin Ice 2:55

8. Tale of Two Heads 4:31

9. Absolutely (Not) 4:36

10. Take the Scenic Route 5:05
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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Singer Kay Grant left the Downtown New York scene some twenty years ago and crossed the Atlantic. Around the same time, schoolboy clarinettist Alex Ward donned long trousers and played in public with Derek Bailey. Since then, they have both been vital members of the London improvising scene, as these duo improvisations - recorded at four recent gigs and one studio session - attest. (Three of the ten pieces also involve live electronic vocal processing.)"

"The English weather flickers across the garden, like a speeded up film. Inside, in high ceilinged rooms, in a big house coming alive, a clarinet and voice, two air columns flavoured with memories and lung, converse. The clarinet has just come back from New York. The voice has been distilling red petals for their essence. They have a lot to say to each other but the dangerous love they share for the liberation of animals breaks through. Out of the bag the creatures jabber excitedly, as they play across the bare wooden floor and Persian rugs."-Zolan Quobble (2011)

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Unusual Vocal Forms
EMANEM & psi
Duo Recordings

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