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Ward / Hill / Lash / Sanders: Predicate (FMR)

Alex Ward developed this band to confront the issue of combining composition with improvisation, using free jazz as a touchstone for pieces allowing stylistically unbounded playing, here with an incredible set of players.

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product information:

UPC: 649849982407

Label: FMR
Catalog ID: FMR 318-0811
Squidco Product Code: 15569

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2011
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded on September 22nd, 2010 by Ash Gardner at House Of Strange Studios.


Alex Ward-electric guitar

Tim Hill-alto saxophone, baritone saxophone

Dominic Lash-doublebass

Mark Sanders-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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Tim Hill is a British Jazz Saxophonist, known for the groups Consorts, Continental Drift, and Meltdown.

-Discogs (

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"Born Cambridge, England, in January 1980; played bass guitar since 1994; studied with Hugh Boyd and Pascha Milner and at Basstech (London) with Rob Burns, Terry Gregory and others. Played double bass since 2001; basically self taught, with grateful thanks to Simon H. Fell. First class BA in English Literature from Oxford University (2002). Received MA Composition from Oxford Brookes University in 2003, having studied with Paul Whitty, Ray Lee and others. Received PhD from Brunel University in 2010, having studied the work of Derek Bailey, Helmut Lachenmann and JH Prynne and been supervised by Richard Barrett and John Croft."

-Dominic Lash Website (

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"Mark Sanders has played with many renowned musicians including Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Roswell Rudd, Peter Brotzmann, Barry Guy, Otomo Yoshihide, Jah Wobble, Sidsel Endresen , Charles Gayle, Peter Evans and William Parker. He works with John Edwards in a duo and with groups including Evan Parker, `Foils` with Frank Paul Schubert and Matthius Muller and groups with Veryan Weston, John Tilbury, Agusti Fernandez and Mathew Shipp. Mark works in a regular improvising duo with John Butcher and also performing John`s composition `Tarab Cuts` which has played festivals in Rio de Janiero, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Glasgow, Bristol and London. In a trio with cellist Okkyung Lee, John and Mark have played in Belgium, France, England and Scotland. He also has a longstanding duo with Sarah Gail Brand which has featured on the BBC`s `The Stuart Lee Show`and in the film `Taking the dog for a Walk`.

He has performed solo for a Christian Marclay exhibition at The White Cube Gallery in London, Evan Parker`s festival`Unwhitstable` in Wroclaw, Poland for `Solos Festival` The 100 Years Gallery London, an improvised music series in Derby and Cafe Oto in London. Working with Christian Marclay in his `Everyday` piece for film and live music, he has performed in Aldeburgh, Ruhr Trienalle, Vienna Bienalle, Holland festival and London`s QEH and has also collaborated with him playing for the film `Screenplay`in London and Lisbon. In situations using composition in one form or another Mark works in various projects including `13 Vices` with Brian Irvine/Jennifer Walshe, Alex Hawkins Ensemble featuring Peter Evans, Simon Fell Ensembe, groups with Hasse Poulsen and Luc Ex , Sarah Sarhandi`s `Both Universe`, Elaine Mitchener`s `Sweet Tooth` and has played in the groups of Shabaka Hutchings including`Sons of Kemet` Conceptual Artist Sam Belinfante collaborated with Mark in his piece `On the One Hand, and the Other` in two exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, London For Conceptual artist Henrik Hakensen`s film `The End` he has performed as an improvising soloist with orchestras conductedd by Jessica Cottis, playing the music of John Coxon in Glasgow, Sydney and Monte Carlo As a guest with New York`s ICE Ensemble he has performed John Zorn`s `The Tempest` in London and at Huddersfield New Music Festival.

Mark also works in the groups of Paul Dunmall including Deep Whole Trio with Paul Rogers, in duo and `Frisque Concordance` with Georg Graewe , and the ensembles of Mikolaj Trzaska, Uwe Oberg and Peter Jaquemyn. He has performed in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Morrocco, South Africa, Australia, Mozambique and Turkey, playing at many major festivals including Nickelsdorf, Riga, Ulrichsburg, Glastonbury, Womad, Vancouver, Isle of Wight, Roskilde, Berlin Jazz days, FMP, Mulhouse, Luz, Minniapolis, Banlieue Bleues, Son D`hiver and Hurta Cordel."

-Mark Sanders Website (

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track listing:

1. The Denied 5:12

2. Courtesy Class 9:01

3. Stub 8:58

4. Happy New Year 6:48

5. Forecast 14:49

6. Candidates 7:23
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"The pieces on this CD were written between October 2009 and March 2010 specifically for this group, which played its first show in February 2010. Even though the majority of my available recordings are of free improvisation, the challenge of composing for improvising musicians and/or creating music where composed and improvised elements coexist interdependently has long been one of my foremost concerns — but it's only recently that I've felt ready to put together a working band for this purpose and make the results public. I have always believed that for such a combination of methodologies to be worthwhile, any composed material should be as strongly characterised as the improvising. Otherwise, the incorporation of composition would signify nothing more than a reluctance for the music to be fully improvised, a capitulation to the notion of improvisation as insufficient to generate music by itself — which, as one might suspect from my prior history (and in particular the key role of Derek Bailey in my musical development), I do not believe to any extent. Therefore, I had first to learn how (and why) to compose music that aspired to stand on its own merits, before addressing the specific issue of composing for improvisers. This was a lengthy process, moving through several phases, principally:

1) several years of collaborative work with Benjamin Hervé, mainly in the rock band Camp Blackfoot (represented on the 1999 album "Critical Seed vs. The Spartan Society");

2) a period of songwriting, represented by the 2005 album "Hapless Days" and subsequent work with the band Alex Ward & The Dead Ends — which, while in some ways constituting a diversion from the technical/aesthetic considerations involved in writing instrumental music, clarified for me how I perceive material and could incorporate psychological/ emotional resonances in a compositional context; and

3) the writing of through-composed instrumental structures for a duo line-up of guitar and drums, which became the basis for the repertoire of the band Dead Days Beyond Help (formed late 2006). These pieces were collected on the album "Access Denied!" (released 2009).

Dead Days Beyond Help marks the point where I felt I'd reached a level of clarity and sureness in my approach to composition, and in its initial stage also represented a summary of everything I'd been working on up to that point, incorporating as it does in its live performances songs, free improvisation and the aforementioned through-composed instrumental pieces. In mid-2009 however, DDBH underwent a transformation, shifting towards a fully collaborative method of composition, and now the material for the band is written jointly by myself and drummer Jem Doulton. At that point, I started to feel it was time to establish some new compositional outlets, firstly to provide a vehicle for the solo composing I was no longer doing for DDBH, secondly to test whether my new-found confidence in writing music could extend to other formats and instrumentations, and thirdly to confront at last the issue of combining composition with improvisation (DDBH deals in both, but very seldom together in any given piece). Predicate is the first band to be formed with these aims> in mind.

In putting together Predicate and assessing how composition and improvisation might interact in the band's music, I was guided initially by a conception of my own performance role. Having found myself playing more and more guitar over the preceding few years, both with DDBH and in the improvising trio N.E.W. (with Steve Noble and John Edwards), I felt that some aspects of how I approach the instrument might be interestingly applied in a more linear and less stylistically volatile context than either of those bands tend towards. This idea informed both the compositions I would write for the group and my choice of instrumentation — one which offers a clear delineation of rhythm section (double bass and drums) and lead instrument (saxophone), allowing the guitar to sit in between. This certain traditionalism of format, combined with a willingness for the music to gravitate towards a high level of propulsive energy and intensity, has led me on occasion to refer to Predicate as my "free-jazz" group — but this is really no more than a fairly abstract aesthetic touchstone, and while there may be less moment-to-moment dislocation than in much of the music I've been involved in previously, the group's improvisations have tended to be equally stylistically unbounded, to my great satisfaction.

Which brings me to the members of the group... After everything I might say about my ideas and aims, the character and quality of the music ultimately depends on the players, and in that regard I could not have been more fortunate. I thought long and hard about which musicians would be right for this band — and yet once I'd arrived at the final decision of who to ask, it seemed so perfect that there could have been no other choices, and I'm enormously grateful that they all agreed to be involved. If one composes to have one's intentions realised, one works with improvisers to find oneself in areas that go beyond anything one could have intended — and Tim, Mark and Dominic are the type of musicians who can fulfill both of those wishes at once. I've known Tim Hill for close to twenty years, and owe an enormous amount of my understanding of how to combine composition and improvisation to my experiences in various of his own groups. As a saxophonist, he has the rare ability to play simultaneously with emotion and momentum — that distinctive combination of attack and poignancy that characterises my very favourite jazz soloists. Besides his power and inventiveness as a bassist, Dominic Lash embodies for me the best qualities of a new generation of improvising musicians — an informed understanding of a huge range of technical and instrumental possibilities, a sense of one's connectedness to tradition(s) being potentially strengthening rather than deadening, and an ability to cater to the musical demands of any given situation without suppressing his own personality or instincts in the process. And Mark Sanders is a man whose résumé speaks for the astonishing scope of his musical conception and ability: from any species of metrical groove, through the multi-directional all-time/no-time of freejazz, to pure textural exploration of the kit's sonic potential, he has not only mastered all the above but made them his own — and also possesses a readiness to engage with notated music unusual in someone with such a breadth of improvisational resource. It has been a joy and an inspiration playing with these musicians and experiencing the ways they have been able to transform the material I brought to the group, and my heartfelt thanks go to all of them.

It is my hope to write many more pieces for this quartet, and to work with it for much time to come. We hope you enjoy this first instalment of our music."-Alex Ward, April 2011.

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London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
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Free Improvisation
FMR Records
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