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Davis, Anthony / Paul Plimley / Al Neil / John Kameel Farah

Past Piano Present | Live at Western Front 1985 - 2015 [VINYL LP with DOWNLOAD]

Davis, Anthony  / Paul Plimley / Al Neil / John Kameel Farah: Past Piano Present | Live at Western F (Western Front New Music)

Four innovative and creative pianists performing solo at the Western Front between 1985 and 2015--Anthony Davis, Paul Plimley, Al Neil, John Kameel Farah--compiled on this extraordinary LP, the 2nd essential archive from one of Canada's most important performance spaces.

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product information:

Label: Western Front New Music
Catalog ID: 004
Squidco Product Code: 21876

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: Canada
Packaging: LP
Recorded at the Western Front between 1985 and 2015.


Anthony Davis-piano

Paul Plimley-piano

Al Neil-piano

John Kameel Farah-Disklavier piano, keyboard, electronics

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Artist Biographies:

"Anthony Davis (born February 20, 1951), is an American jazz pianist, composer, and student of gamelan music. Davis is best known for his operas including X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X, which was premiered by the New York City Opera in 1986, Amistad, which premiered with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1997, and Wakonda's Dream, which premiered at Opera Omaha in 2007.

Davis was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He taught at Yale University and Harvard University, and has played with Anthony Braxton and Leo Smith. In 1981, Davis formed an octet called Episteme. He also wrote the incidental music for the Broadway version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. He incorporates several styles including jazz, rhythm 'n' blues, gospel, non-Western, African, European classical, Indonesian, and experimental music.

Davis has received acclaim as a free-jazz pianist, a co-leader or sideman with various ensembles. Such ensembles include those that featured Smith as bandleader from 1974 to 1977.

Davis is professor of music at the University of California, San Diego. His opera Wakonda's Dream is a tale of a contemporary Native American family and the history that affects them.

His opera Lilith (libretto by Allan Havis) had its world premiere at the Conrad Prebys Music Center in UCSD on December 4, 2009. The story is about Adam's first wife, set in a modern era."

-Wikipedia (

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"Paul (Horace) Plimley (born 16 March 1953 in Vancouver, British Columbia) is a free jazz pianist and vibraphonist. He is one of the doyens of the Canadian jazz avant-garde, a co-founder of the New Orchestra Workshop Society and frequent collaborator with the bassist Lisle Ellis. He is well versed in classical music and in all styles of jazz; he was one of the first and most convincing interpreters of Ornette Coleman's music on the piano (an instrument usually seen as antithetical to Coleman's music).

Plimley studied classical piano under Kum-Sing Lee at the University of British Columbia (1971-3). In 1978-9 he studied with Karl Berger and Cecil Taylor at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY. In 1977 he founded the New Orchestra Workshop (NOW), and he has been active in many of the ensembles associated with NOW, including the NOW Orchestra.

His work with Lisle Ellis is extensive, and includes the duo CD Both Sides of the Same Mirror (Nine Winds, 1989); When Silence Pulls, with Andrew Cyrille (Music & Arts, 1990); Noir, with Bruce Freedman and Gregg Bendian (Victo, 1992); Density of the Lovestruck Demons with Donald Robinson (Music & Arts, 1994); and Safecrackers with Scott Amendola (Victo, 1999). Most notable, perhaps, are two recordings for Hat Art: the collection of Ornette Coleman interpretations, Kaleidoscopes (1992), and (under Joe McPhee's leadership), a revisiting of Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite called Sweet Freedom, Now What? (1994). In May 2000 he recorded a live act at the 17th International Festival of New Music in Victoriaville, Quebec with John Oswald, Marilyn Crispell and Cecil Taylor. The album was released at Victo Records.

The still Vancouver based musician is a regular at the annual Vancouver International Jazz Festival."

-Wikipedia (

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"Al Neil was born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1924. An accomplished jazz pianist, during the l950s he was one of the founders of the Cellar Jazz Club and performed with artists such as Art Pepper, Conte Candoli and Kenneth Patchen. During the l960s and l970s he became known for solo and ensemble perfromances which combined music with texts, art assemblages, slides and prepared tapes, and in recent years, his collage works have been exhibited extensively. Al Neil's books are Changes (Nightwood Editions 1989), West Coast Lokas (Intermedia 1972), Slammer (Pulp Press 1981) and Origins (writings by and about the artist and his work: Western Front 1989). Although he has toured and exhibited internationally, he has always lived and worked in Vancouver. In 2003, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Emily Carr Institute."

-Brunt Mag (

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"John Kameel Farah is a Canadian composer and pianist whose work embraces aspects of baroque and early music, experimental, contemporary classical, improvisation, middle-eastern music and forms of electronic music.

He studied composition and piano performance at the University of Toronto, where he received the Glenn Gould Composition Award twice during his studies. In 1999 he had private lessons with Terry Riley in California, and later at the Arabic Music Retreat in Hartford.

Farah continues to compose for ensembles and film, but largely focuses on live solo concerts, using a setup which surrounds the piano with synthesizers, as well as processing the piano through computer filters and effects. His music draws upon an interest in astronomy, history, mythology and painting. As a visual artist, his intricate ink drawings have been presented at solo and group exhibitions.

He occasionally presents his side-project, "Music for Organ and Synthesizers", looping and altering the pipe organ's sound in combination with analog and digital synths in various church settings, which has attracted great interest from electronic music fans.

Collaborations have included several scores for iconic Canadian choreographer Peggy Baker, and rising ballet star Robert Binet. He has also worked with astrophysicist John Dubinski, composing soundtracks to animations of galaxy formations and collisions in a project called "Gravitas". In 2010 he became a member of the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, the oldest continuously active live-electronic performing group in the world. In Berlin, he frequently works with the Oriel String Quartet and the early vocal ensemble Vox Nostra.

Farah has casually described to his musical approach as "maximalist" in reference to the myriad of styles he draws upon in his overall musical approach. Also a visual artist, Farah has accompanied his concerts with live projections of his detailed ink line-drawings.

Since 2010 Farah has been based in Berlin, Germany. He has toured across Europe, the U.K and North America, as well as South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and Israel/Palestine. He has given concert-lectures at several universities and colleges in both Canada and Germany and has performed his work in some of Germany's most prestigious venues, such as Berlin's Volksbühne and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Kölner Philharmonie, and soon the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg."

-John Kameel Farah Website (

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track listing:


1. Behind The Rock 7:20

2. Ripple Drops Magnified 6:23

3. The Piano Tuner 6:26


1. Fantasia 9:27

2. Fugue 8:12
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Second in a series of archival releases, this album represents the work of four innovative pianists that performed at the Western Front between 1985 and 2015. The record features archival performances from the legendary Anthony Davis and Vancouver renegade Al Neil from 1985's PIANO series, as well as a Paul Plimley performance from the 1989 Vancouver du Maurier International Jazz Festival. Side B includes two pieces from Toronto composer John Kameel Farah, developed and performed during his 2015 compositional residency at the Western Front.


Perennially traversing the boundaries of jazz and classical music, Anthony Davis has charted his own path to become a major voice in American contemporary music. Renowned internationally as a composer, educator and jazz pianist, he soared to critical acclaim as a virtuoso soloist in the 1970s. Today, Davis is known as an award- winning composer of operatic works and film scores. Recognized as a "National Treasure" for his pioneering work in opera including X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X (1986). His most recent work, Lear on the 2nd Floor (2013) reimagines Shakespeare's most enduring protagonist.

Since 1975, Paul Plimley has been advancing the fields of composition and improvisation along a continuum of American and European music traditions. With a stylistic range that moves from explosiveness to introspection, Plimley's kinetic energy has made for remarkable collaborations with numerous celebrated musicians.

Al Neil's work in music is the beginning and the core of his artistic practice. In the 1950s he helped open The Cellar, Vancouver's first experimental jazz club. In the early 1960s his group, the Al Neil Trio, produced some of the most inventive work of its time, influencing the future of Vancouver's creative music scene.

Toronto pianist, composer and improviser John Kameel Farah occupies an expansive musical landscape, weaving together baroque motifs with Middle-Eastern modes and ambient minimalism. His solo performances exist between the worlds of the concert pianist and the electronic producer, exploring a range of musical sensibilities from Bach to Schoenberg and electronic music.

"This compilation album highlights extraordinary presentations of technical facility, compositional artistry and improvisatory savoir-faire on piano -with results that are stunningly original and personal." -Dana Reason, Ph.D

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