The Squid's Ear Magazine


Nicols, Maggie / Mark Wastell: And John (Confront)

The first meetings between UK free improvising vocalist Maggie Nicols and percussionist Mark Wastell, heard in two concerts at the Hundred Years Gallery in London, dedicated to Spontaneous Music Ensemble founder John Stevens, Wastell using two of Steven's cymbals and both using a a variety of percussive devices, in two unconventional and extended dialogs of warm camaraderie.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Maggie Nicols-voice, taps, hand percussion

Mark Wastell-percussion


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Label: Confront
Catalog ID: Core 28
Squidco Product Code: 32874

Format: CDR
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardstock Sleeve in Plastic Sleeve
Recorded at the Hundred Years Gallery, in London, UK, on January 28th, 2022, and July 29th, 2022, by Graham MacKeachan.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Maggie's life long love for John Stevens is no secret and she wears it on her sleeve very proudly. They first met in 1968 and through John's encouagement Maggie soon became a regular member of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. She has championed his music and workshop pieces ever since.

On the occasion of the January concert presented here - our first meeting as a duo - I was fortunate to have been loaned a couple of John's cymbals by his son Ritchie. Additionally, in the audience that evening was John's daughter Loo together with her son. Naturally, this all added an extra atmosphere to what was a very special musical encounter. We all certainly felt John's presence in the small gallery performance space, some of which manifested itself quite naturally in the music we made together."-Mark Wastell



"Taken from two 2022 live performances, And John offers immediate proof of what skilled and responsive collaborators Maggie Nicols and Mark Wastell are. Both tracks are long-the first is 18 minutes, the second nearly 40-and give the pair ample opportunity to develop conversations. But "develop" seems like the wrong word for what happens, as Nicols's voice and Wastell's percussion are engaged and busy from the start, such that even their quieter moments crackle with tension. There's a point about 25 minutes into "Such a Beautiful Place" where Wastell recedes and Nicols moves to the center, yet somehow it doesn't seem any less of a dialogue, since even Wastell's smallest sounds are meaningful." (Marc Medwin, Best Experimental Music on Bandcamp: January 2023)

"Listening to Nicols' collaboration on And John with percussionist Mark Wastell evokes a kindred spiritual dichotomy. The album's two pieces, recorded last year at London's Hundred Years Gallery, are dedicated to Spontaneous Music Ensemble founder John Stevens, who invited Nicols to participate in the groundbreaking collective. The first piece unfolds with ritualistic care, courting metaphysical energies through physical gestures. Ranging from pointillism to drone (and various permutations in between), it walks a tightrope over a chasm of self-expression that is, ultimately, selfless. Nicols breaks decorum as if it were a bottle of ink, creating on-the-spot calligraphy, while Wastell gives her plenty of paper on which to pen her messages. On the 39-minute "Such a Beautiful Place", spoken word, sustained tones and hymnal gestures spin until they are dizzy with their own deconstructions of historical violence. This leaves us, the listeners, to pick up the brushes she leaves behind to add whatever validations we can before the ink runs dry."-Tyran Grillo, New York City Jazz Record



This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at New York City Jazz Record

Artist Biographies

"Maggie Nicols (or Nichols, as she originally spelled her name as a performer) (born 24 February 1948), is a Scottish free-jazz and improvising vocalist, dancer, and performer.

Nicols was born in Edinburgh as Margaret Nicholson. Her father was from the Isle of Lewis, and her mother is half-French, half-Berber from North Africa. At the age of fifteen she left school and started to work as a dancer at the Windmill Theatre. Her first singing engagement was in a strip club in Manchester at the age of sixteen. At about that time she became obsessed with jazz, and sang with bebop pianist Dennis Rose. From then on she sang in pubs, clubs, hotels, and in dance bands with some of the finest jazz musicians around. In the midst of all this she worked abroad for a year as a dancer (including a six-month stint at the Moulin Rouge in Paris).[citation needed]

In 1968, she went to London and joined (as Maggie Nichols) an early improvisational group, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, with John Stevens, Trevor Watts, and Johnny Dyani, and the group performed that year at Berlin's then new avant-garde festival, Total Music Meeting. In the early 1970s she began running voice workshops at the Oval House Theatre (one of the most important centres for pioneer fringe theatre groups). She both acted in some of the productions and rehearsed regularly with a local rock band. Shortly afterwards she became part of Keith Tippett's fifty-piece British jazz/progressive rock big band Centipede, which included Julie Tippetts, Phil Minton, Robert Wyatt, Dudu Pukwana, and Alan Skidmore. Tippetts, Minton, and Nicols also joined Brian Eley to form the vocal group Voice. Around the same time Nicols began collaborating with the Scottish percussionist Ken Hyder (who had recently moved to London) and his band Talisker.[citation needed]

Maggie Nicols recorded an album with the vocalist Julie Tippetts called Sweet and S'Ours which was an FMP]] import.

By the late 1970s, Nicols had become an active feminist, and co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group, which performed across Europe, with Lindsay Cooper. She also organised Contradictions, a women's workshop performance group that began in 1980 and dealt with improvisation and other modes of performance in a variety of media including music and dance. Over the years, Nicols has collaborated with other women's groups, such as the Changing Women Theatre Group, and even wrote music for a prime-time television series, Women in Sport.

Nicols has also collaborated regularly over the years with Swiss pianist Irene Schweizer and French bassist Joelle Leandre, including tours and three recordings as the trio "Les Diaboliques". Her collaboration with Ken Hyder also continues; the duo incorporate elements of the traditional tunes of their shared Scottish background into jazz improvisations in their most recent project, Hoots and Roots Duo. She has worked with pianists Pete Nu and Steve Lodder, with her own daughter, Aura Marina, with avant-gardists Caroline Kraabel and Charlotte Hug, and with lighting designer Sue Neal in Light and Shade. She performed internationally for several decades, including the Zürich and the Frankfurt "Canaille" festivals, the Victoriaville Festival. She gave solo performances at the Moers Music Festival, the Cologne Triennale, and a number of other creative and improvised music festivals."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Nicols)
2/16/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Mark Wastell Born 1968; cello.

Much of Mark Wastell's relationship with his chosen instrument is concentrated on the tactile, textural and sonic possibilities of both violoncello and bow. He is increasingly interested in working with extreme elements drawn from frequency, timbre and pitch.

His early activity was consciously and subconsciously influenced by a variety of improvising musicians including John Stevens, Barry Guy, Phil Durrant and John Russell. Subsequent exposure to contemporary composers lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of the works written for strings by Feldman, Cage, Nono, Lachenmann and Sciarrino. The use of live electronics and music concrete by Tudor, Parmegiani, Xenakis and others was another important early influence.

Wastell's current instrumental material primarily focuses on using abstract principles of space and texture - encompassing elements of new London silence, pro-instrument minimalism, new complexity and electro-acoustics. Because of the very nature of his chosen instrument, he tends to favour 'chamber' style ensembles and is a member of a number of regular groups:

• Chris Burn's Ensemble, with John Butcher, Rhodri Davies, John Russell, Matt Hutchinson

• Derek Bailey's Company - with, for example, Will Gaines, Simon H. Fell and Rhodri Davies

• Evan Parker's String Project, with Peter Cusack, Hugh Davies, Rhodri Davies, Phil Durrant, John Edwards, Kaffe Matthews, Marcio Mattos, John Russell

• Assumed possibilities, with Chris Burn, Rhodri Davies and Phil Durrant

• The Sealed Knot, with Burkhard Beins and Rhodri Davies

• Necessaire with Alessandro Bosetti, Ignaz Schick and Burkhard Beins

• IST with Simon Fell and Rhodri Davies

• Quatuor Accorde with Tony Wren, Phil Durrant and Charlotte Hug

• Broken Concort, a duo with Rhodri Davies

Mark Wastell has also performed with many other leading musicians including John Zorn, Keith Rowe, Peter Kowald, Hugh Davies, Roger Turner, Veryan Weston, Lol Coxhill, Mark Sanders, Axel Dorner, Hans Koch, Phil Minton, Max Eastley and Steve Beresford.

As a soloist he has played at the Micro-classical Festival (London 1996), LMC Festival (London 2000) and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2000). He has travelled extensively with various groups, performing on tour and at festivals in the USA, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Greece. Other work includes the launch in 1996 of his own record label, Confront Recordings. Wastell is also joint co-ordinator of the concert venue All Angels, together with Rhodri Davies."

-European Free Improv (EFI) (http://www.efi.group.shef.ac.uk/musician/mwastell.html)
2/16/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. And John 18:22

2. Such a Beautiful Place 38:58

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Duo Recordings
Percussion & Drums
Unusual Vocal Forms
New in Improvised Music

Search for other titles on the label:
Confront.


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