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Riley, Howard / Keith Tippett: Journal Four (NoBusiness)

Having collaborated as a duo first at Goldsmiths College in 1981, UK pianists Howard Riley and Keith Tippett met for this spectacular 2016 concert as part of The Steinway Spirio Two-Piano Festival in Soho, London, each bringing decades of experience as lyrical and inventive players, together complementing each other in merging disparate forms from Joplin to Debussy to Mujician.

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product information:

Label: NoBusiness
Catalog ID: NBCD 152
Squidco Product Code: 31754

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Lithuania
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at ‘The Steinway Spirio Two-Piano Festival’ at the PizzaExpress Jazz Club, in Soho, London, UK, on March 9th, 2016, by Cath Longbottom.


Howard Riley-piano

Keith Tippett-piano

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Artist Biographies:
"John Howard Riley (born 16 February 1943) is an English jazz pianist and composer. Riley was born in Huddersfield. He began learning the piano at the age of six, and began playing jazz as early as the age of 13. He studied at the University of Wales (1961-66), Indiana University in America under Dave Baker (1966-67), and then at York University (1967-70). Alongside his studies he played jazz professionally, with Evan Parker (1966) and then with his own trio (1967-76), with Barry Guy on bass and Alan Jackson, Jon Hiseman, and Tony Oxley for periods on drums. Additionally he worked with John McLaughlin (1968), the London Jazz Composers Orchestra (1970-1980s), and with Oxley's ensemble (1972-81). He and Guy worked in a trio with Phil Wachsmann from 1976 well into the 1980s, and played solo piano throughout North America and Europe. From 1978 to 1981 he played in a quartet with Guy, Trevor Watts, and John Stevens; in the early 1980s he did duo work with Keith Tippett, with Jaki Byard, and with Elton Dean. From 1985 he worked in a trio setting with Jeff Clyne and Tony Levin. Riley has taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and currently teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he has taught continuously since the 1970s."-Wikipedia (

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"Keith Tippett (born Keith Graham Tippetts; 25 August 1947) is a British jazz pianist and composer.

Tippett was born in Southmead, Bristol. The son of an English father who was a policeman and an Irish mother name of Kitty. Keith wrote music dedicated to her after she died. Keith was the oldest of three siblings and had Clive and Thomas as brothers. Tippett went to Greenway Secondary Modern school in Southmead, Bristol. He formed his first band when he was fourteen with school friends, such as Richard Murch, Mike Milton, Terry Pratt and Bob Chard. They were called the KT Trad Lads performing Traditional jazz. Later Keith formed a modern jazz trio in Bristol and played regularly at the Dugout Club in Park Row, Bristol. He studied Piano and Church Organ, was a chorister and played with the school and Bristol youth brass bands. He moved to London in 1967, to pursue a musical life.

In the late 1960s, Tippett led a sextet featuring Elton Dean on saxophone, Mark Charig on trumpet and Nick Evans on trombone. Tippett married singer Julie Driscoll and wrote scores for TV.

In the early 1970s, his big band Centipede brought together much of a generation of young British jazz and rock musicians. As well as performing some concerts (limited economically by the size of the band), they recorded one double-album, Septober Energy.

He formed, with Harry Miller and Louis Moholo a formidable rhythm section at the centre of some the most exciting combinations in the country, including the Elton Dean quartet, and Elton Dean's Ninesense. Around the same time, he was also in the vicinity of King Crimson, contributing piano to several of their records including "Cat Food" (and even appearing with them on Top of the Pops). His own groups, such as Ovary Lodge tended towards a more contemplative form of European free improvisation. He continues to perform with the improvising ensemble Mujician and more recently (2006) Work in Progress.

Tippett has appeared and recorded in a wide variety of settings, including a duet with Stan Tracey, duets with his wife Julie Tippetts, solo performances, and appeared on three King Crimson albums."

-Wikipedia (

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track listing:

1. Sea Walk (Keith Tippett solo) 15:56

2. Misteriously / Round Midnight 10:29

3. Journal Four (Tippett-Riley duo) 46:47

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descriptions, reviews, &c.

"It is eight years [2008] since pianist Howard Riley last played in London (at the Vortex) - far too long - so it was a particular delight to mark his return with one of his rare duo piano concerts with another exceptional pianist, Keith Tippett, as a high point of the Two Piano Festival at Pizza Express.

Riley's and Tippett's is a remarkable, if necessarily occasional, collaboration which goes back to their first performance together at Goldsmiths College in 1981, thankfully committed to vinyl, and has its roots in their early days in London fifteen years earlier, as noted in our preview (link below). Other full concert duos were recorded in 1984 and 1993, and their last time on stage together was as part of a tour in 2003. The historical significance of this event was underscored when Joseph Paice introduced these two 'giants of the improvised music scene', as 'the absolute highlight of the week'.

Their two opening solo sets marked out the complementary territories that each occupies. Tippett's melodic lyricism was swiftly expanded by light exploratory brushes with the piano's internal organs and purposefully clipped harpsichord timbres. Quoting from his composition Dedicated to Mingus with its hints of Goodbye Pork Pie Hat and slipping in to the blues, Tippett mixed the orchestral with dazzling flights between the upper and lower registers, and insinuated a musical box to add a quirkily mysterious element.

Riley, despite his recent absence, has lost none of his vigour or rigour at the keyboard. Whereas Tippett plays much of the time in an eyes-closed, near-trance state, Riley looks at the keyboard all the time he plays. Asserting a strongly confident approach through a metallic, percussive overture, his chordal, bluesy melody was the springboard to a walking bass episode and a pure jazz piano extemporisation which wove together Monk's Round Midnight with Ellington and ended up with the Cha, Cha!

Together they displayed an extraordinary, intuitive understanding in an absorbing, extended duo set. Perhaps the best way to describe their complex, poetic confection is as an intense meditation on the piano, defying neat boundaries, blasting Rachmaninov and Debussy with the blues, and maverick turns of phrase with technical runs of hyper-velocity. This was a harmony of exploration, guided by a sense of the primacy of the creative flow and given structure, as Riley had discussed earlier, by their experiences as composers as well as performers and interpreters.

Rhythmic rolls gave way to Township jive, deep in Tippett's experience, Joplin's piano rags, children's rhymes and pianistic games of of hide and seek. The layered juxtaposition of ideas was both breathtaking and absolutely rooted. A dense chordal build-up led in to the final sequence - a glorious improvised duet around Blue Monk. After the applause had died down, Tippett summed up the experience perfectly, 'Before you ask for anything else, that's all we know!' That really was it - Riley and Tippett had given so generously, nobody could have asked for more. [...]"-London Jazz News

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at London Jazz News
Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Piano & Keyboards
Duo Recordings
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