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Ward, Alex Item 4: Where We Were (Relative Pitch)

UK guitarist Alex Ward's quartet featuring his compositions for improvisers, performed with a set of younger players on London's free improv scene--Charlotte Keeffe on trumpet & flugelhorn, Otto Willberg on double bass, and Andrew Lisle on drums--heard here in two intricately exciting 2018 concerts in London at Set Dalston Lane and at Cafe Oto Project Space.

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product information:

UPC: 5902249002416

Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR1106
Squidco Product Code: 28785

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at Set Dalston Lane, in London, UK, on September 29th, 2018, and at Cafe Oto Project Space, in London, UK, on September 1st, 2018.


Alex Ward-clarinet, electric guitar

Charlotte Keeffe-trumpet and flugelhorn

Otto Willberg-double bass

Andrew Lisle-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"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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"Trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe's unique approach and passion for improvised, experimental and jazz music has seen her performing regularly across the UK and internationally as a soloist and as part of several ensembles, duos and trios. Her music has been featured on BBC Radio 3, Resonance FM and Jazz FM and recent appearances with her quartet include Jazz In The Round and a sell-out performance at Lancaster Jazz Festival. Other recent highlights include being featured as a performer and composer/arranger on Sheffield-based Martin Archer's latest project, Anthropology Band, performances with Alex Ward's Item 4 and regular appearances and conductions with the London Improvisers Orchestra.

Inspired by the likes of Miles Davis and Polish artist Tomasz Stańko, Charlotte studied Jazz Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama before going on to become a scholarship recipient at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and a Help Musicians UK Award Winner. With her Quartet, Charlotte explores the relationship between her compositions and experimental improvisation, producing a unique musical experience inspiring creative freedom of expression. Bassist Ashley John Long, drummer Ben Handysides and guitarist Moss Freed join Charlotte in this latest collaboration.

Charlotte is also a performer with The Brass Monkeys, Moss Freed's Union Division and Calum Gourlay's Big Band. She took part in the Summer Studios Artist Residency 2019 with drummer Andrew Lisle and bassist Otto Willberg in Andrew's trio project at The Sage, Gateshead. Charlotte played in Marin Alsop's Taki Concordia Orchestra at the World Economic Forum 2019 playing to world leaders and celebrities including Sir David Attenborough. She's performed at several music festivals including Brecon Jazz as part of Steve Waterman's Big Band, Glastonbury and Wilderness alongside Liane Carroll, Charlotte Church, Laura Mvula, Kate Nash, Camille O'Sullivan and Will Young."

-Charlotte Keeffe Website (

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Otto Willberg is a professional double bass and bass guitarist, with considerable experience playing both jazz, classical and popular music. He has toured Europe and the US with different groups, and has a strong passion for sharing his skills and knowledge of music. He has worked with Alex Ward, Andrew Cheetham, Colin Webster, Andrew Lisle, Toshimaru Nakamura, Sam Andreae, Ashley Paul, Hannah Marshall, Dirk Serries, Ianncu Dumitrescu, &c. &c.

-Squidco 3/20/2023

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"Andrew Lisle is a drummer from Northumberland, UK, currently based in London. In 2008 he began studying Jazz at Leeds College of Music and soon discovered a passion and talent for free improvisation. It was during his time at LCoM that he co-founded the band Shatner's Bassoon with five like-minded musicians (and fellow graduates) Johnny Richards, Michael Bardon, Oliver Dover, Craig Scott and Joost Hendrickx. To date the band have recorded two studio albums (receiving wide-spread critical acclaim) and have toured the UK extensively.

After graduating in 2011 he moved to Lisbon, Portugal where he had the opportunity to further develop his musicianship. He spent much of his time at the Clean Feed Records' base of operations Trem Azul playing with the city's veteran improvisers including Rodrigo Pinheiro (Red Trio), Hernani Faustino (Red Trio), Rodrigo Amado and Luis Lopes among others.

Since moving to London in 2013 his virtuosity and musicality has established him as a sought-after drummer on the Jazz and improvised music scene, performing and recording with some of the most innovative musicians in the UK and beyond. These include Colin Webster, John Edwards, John Dikeman, Alex Ward, Dirk Serries, Alan Wilkinson, Matthew Bourne, Rachel Musson and Mark Sanders.

On-going projects to date include: Orbits, Kodian trio, Colin Webster/Andrew Lisle, ​Ales Ward Item 10, Dikeman/Lisle/Serries/Webster to name a few."

-Andrew Lisle Website (

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track listing:

1. Write Protect 14:42

2. Staunch 24:37

3. Suffix 9:09

4. Where We Were 25:32
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Item 4 is Alex Ward's latest ensemble to feature his compositions for improvisers. His previous work in this field with ensembles such as Predicate, Forebrace and the Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet has been described as "deft and utterly mesmeric" (Philip Clark, The Guardian review of Alex Ward Quintet "Glass Shelves And Floor", Copepod POD09), "terrific... imbuing the formal rigour of systems music with the expressiveness and spontaneity of free improvisation" (Stewart Smith, The Quietus review of "Glass Shelves And Floor"), "blistering, no holds barred... the energy captured has that special spark of a great gig" (Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blog review of Forebrace "Steeped", Relative Pitch RPR1052), and "dynamic - and at times quite volatile... a keen realization of Ward's belief in the role of composition as it relates to improvisation" (Troy Collins, Point Of Departure review of "Predicate", FMR CD318-0811). Having worked as a sideman in ensembles led by Duck Baker, Eugene Chadbourne, Simon H. Fell, and Butch Morris amongst others, Ward has had a deep and varied first-hand experience of the various strategies that can be used to combine composition and improvisation, and everything he has learned from this has gone on to inform his own work as bandleader. The context for this work is the rich and inspiring community of improvising musicians in the UK in which he has been involved for many decades, since his initial introduction to the scene as a participant in Derek Bailey's Company events. The members of Item 4 are among the most exciting younger players on the London scene, and were all also involved in Ward's large ensemble project Item 10, which brought together musicians from many generations of UK improvisation and whose album "Volition (Live At Cafe Oto)" (Copepod POD13) was described in The Wire Magazine as "a rigorous intellectual exercise which also blows its head off... [an] ambitious work". "Where We Were" is the debut album by Item 4 and was recorded in September 2018 at two performances in London. The music (as is customary for Ward) covers a broad stylistic base, weaving intricate and often highly emotive composed themes into a freewheeling improvisatory landscape, which reveals a kinship with the extended energy curves of free jazz but also hints at the more avant-rock leanings of Ward's work in the duo Dead Days Beyond Help. In addition to his work as bandleader and continued involvement in free improvisation with such musicians as Steve Noble, Evan Parker and Pat Thomas, Ward has also recently been active as a touring member of This Is Not This Heat, Thurston Moore's New Noise Guitar Explorations, and The Flying Luttenbachers. His debut solo guitar album, "Frames", will be released on Relative Pitch Records simultaneously with Item 4's "Where We Were". Charlotte Keeffe - "a whirlwind of extended techniques and tactile puzzles" (Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise) - has performed alongside the likes of John Edwards, HenryLowther, Steve Noble, John Butcher, Steve Beresford and Mark Sanders. She is part of Martin Archer's Anthropology Ensemble, and her own quartet has been featured on JazzFM's Somethin' Else show and at the 2019 Lancaster Jazz Festival. She is a Board Member of the London Improvisers Orchestra and assisted guitarist John Russell with establishing the Mopomoso Workshop Group/MoWo. Otto Willberg's collaborators and accomplices include Hannah Marshall, Cath Roberts, Ashley Paul, Yoni Silver, Laurie Tompkins and more. In 2017 Otto toured Japan with Sam Andreae, David Birchall and Mio Ebisu, which included a performance with Toshimaru Nakamura. In 2018, HTrio (Willberg, Mark Hanslip and Andrew Cheetham) toured the UK with trumpeter Nate Wooley. He has released on Raw Tonk, Slip and Heavy Petting and has a solo disc coming on A New Wave Of Jazz. Otto is a participant of Sound and Music's 'New Voices' programme for 2019-2020. Andrew Lisle - "one of the most original drummers in the UK" (Stewart Smith, The Quietus) - moved to London in 2013 after a period in Lisbon, Portugal where he spent much of his time at the Clean Feed Records' base of operations Trem Azul, and since then has performed and recorded with Colin Webster, John Edwards, John Dikeman, Dirk Serries, Alan Wilkinson, Matthew Bourne, Rachel Musson and Mark Sanders among many others. Some notable venues and festivals he has performed at include: Cafe OTO, Vortex, The Barbican, Jazz at the Lescar, Paradox (Tilburg), Parrazar (Bruge), Love Supreme Festival, and Incubate Festival."-Relative Pitch

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Quartet Recordings

Search for other titles on the label:
Relative Pitch.

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