Improvisation | The Music Trust

History Goes Everywhere

The Australysis Electroband. Roger Dean, leader, piano, computer; Sandy Evans, saxophones; Greg White, computer; with Hazel Smith, text, performer, the Blue Bus
Electronic Music, Improvisation, Jazz
Tall Poppies TP234
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“Modernist Manchester project pursued way Down Under.” This is modernist music and then some, related in places to jazz and in others to Schoenberg et al, and post-serial music. I love it. Not everyone will but that’s okay by me, and the leader is adjusted to a divided reception. Australysis is assembled in slightly different… continue reading »

Fluid to the Influence

Chris Abrahams, piano, organ, synthesizers
Room 40 (RM464)
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2016

“One of Australia’s most distinctive improvisational voices has created another finely woven and memorable collection.” But don’t automatically expect this music to be defined by meditative, shimmering beauty. Then again, it depends how you define ‘beauty’. Perhaps this idea, the deconstruction and exploration of textural, tonal, harmonic, rhythmic and improvisational beauty, is at the heart… continue reading »


Alister Spence, Joe Williamson and Christopher Cantillo
Improvisation, Jazz
Alister Spence Music (ASM003)
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

This is the first release from the new trio of Australian pianist Alister Spence, Canadian bassist Joe Williamson and Swedish drummer Christopher Cantillo. Meeting at the crossroads of jazz and free improvisation, the musical sympathy and connection between Spence, Williamson and Cantillo is extremely strong (they have been playing together since 2009). The thirteen improvisations… continue reading »

Stasis Ecstatic

Decibel. Cat Hope, Lindsay Vickery, Stuart James, Malcolm Riddoch, Tristan Parr, Aaron Wyatt
Classical, Electronic Music, Experimental Music, Improvisation, New Music
Self-release. LP recording
Reviewed by , December 1st, 2015

Certainly if the first bite is with the eye then Stasis Ecstatic by Decibel promises to be an attractive and sleek release. Part of the appeal is the retro charm afforded through the physical presentation of the work in LP 33-inch vinyl. I suspect one of the benefits of this format was to highlight the… continue reading »

Alister Spence and Raymond MacDonald. Stepping Between the Shadows

Alister Spence, piano and prepared piano; Raymond MacDonald, alto and soprano saxophones
Improvisation, Jazz
Rufus Records, RF095
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Two musicians improvising together can be imagined as a Venn diagram, where the distinct ‘musicalities’ (think personalities expressed through music) of the individuals partially converge in moments of shared experience. This is not to suggest, however, that improvisers working in this format concern themselves primarily with expanding the zone of intersection: On the contrary, playing… continue reading »

Across the Top

Paul Cutlan, Brett Hirst, The NOISE
Improvisation, Jazz
Tall Poppies TP211
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2015

Across the Top is a convincing synthesis of European art music influences and jazz-informed improvisation. Paul Cutlan, one of Sydney’s leading improvising saxophonists, provides compositions that he performs with great sensitivity alongside bassist Brett Hirst and string quartet The NOISE – Veronique Serret and Lisa Pallandi on violin, James Eccles on viola, Ollie Miller on… continue reading »

Neighbouring Objects

Mike Majkowski, bass
Astral Spirits
Reviewed by , July 1st, 2015

Bassist-improviser Mike Majkowski presents another highly refined and impressively performed exploration of (mostly) solo bass on Neighbouring Objects. The playing here is so focused and the territory explored is so rich and resonant that one gets the feeling of being deeply embedded in this soundscape. Like his last album Why is there something instead of nothing (2013), the listener… continue reading »

Giraffe Solos

John Encarnacao
Experimental Music, Improvisation
Psychopajama Records #PJ 4911/ PJ4911CD
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

Giraffe Solos is a collection of wholly improvised pieces performed on a prepared steel string acoustic guitar. To help contextualize this, the latest release from John Encarnacao, it may be helpful to consider a little background on the link between the practice of preparing musical instruments and free improvisation. Since the middle of the 20th… continue reading »

Switches & Hose

Dale Gorfinkel
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2015

I love the way Melbourne-based improviser, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder and installation artist Dale Gorfinkel lists all of the objects he uses to make sound on Switches & Hose. On the first track alone Gorfinkel uses a footpump, balloons, garden irrigation, taps, plastic containers and reeds. This is highly rhythmic music, hopping across shifting speeds and… continue reading »

Cat’s Squirrel

Merzbow and Oren Ambarchi
Improvisation, Noise
Hospital Hill (HHCD04130740)
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Cat’s Squirrel presents two of the world’s finest purveyors of noise music, in duo format for the first time. The legendary Merzbow (real name Masami Akita), Japan’s lord of noise, joins Australia’s loudest and heaviest noise guitarist, Oren Ambarchi. This album is a pair of fifteen minute-long improvisations – recorded live at the Campbelltown Arts… continue reading »


Forenzics. Matthew Syres (guitar and effects), Joe Cummins (trumpet and electronics), Dirk Kruithof (guitar and fretless bass), John Wilton (drums)
Experimental Music, Improvisation
Self-release, CD and digital download
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2015

Forenzics is a Sydney-based collective of improvising musicians with a changing line-up of members and collaborators around the core group of Matthew Syres (guitar), Joe Cummins (trumpet and electronics) and Dirk Kruithof (guitar, bass). In this, their fourth album, the trio is joined by drummer John Wilton. Admirably, the album was recorded without overdubs or… continue reading »

Open Polar Sea. Works by Col Fuhler, Salvatore Sciarrino, Morton Feldman, Damien Barbeler, Daniel Blinkhorn and Anna McMichael

Anna McMichael, solo violin, with Col Fuhler on one track
Classical, Electronic Music, Experimental Music, Improvisation, New Music
unsounds 46u (digital download)
Reviewed by , February 1st, 2015

Not so long ago, the fashion was for completeness in CD recordings: the complete works of Morton Fledman for violin and piano, for example. In the past several years, however, we have seen a growth in the popularity of the anthology-recital; albums of often short pieces (sometimes only parts of larger works) by different composers… continue reading »


Jim Denley and Cor Fuhler
Splitrec (Splitrec 24)
Reviewed by , January 1st, 2015

Two of Sydney’s finest improvisers team up on Truancy. Cor Fuhler (piano and preparations) and Jim Denley (alto saxophone and preparations) have both performed throughout the world, collaborating with some of the top free improvisers in the field. This recording, made in Fuhler’s backyard, is comprised of two immersive soundscapes, Skive and Wag. The encounter… continue reading »

Why Is There Something Instead of Nothing

Mike Majkowski
Bocian Records
Reviewed by , November 1st, 2014

Brought to life by Mike Majkowski, the double bass is a living, breathing organism that can morph from the size of an insect, all energy and restless movement, to a creature of cosmic proportions, vibrating in excess of time and space. Sydney-raised Majkowski has been making a name for himself in Berlin, the flourishing hub… continue reading »


Jon Rose, Meinrad Kneer, Richard Barrett
Experimental Music, Improvisation
Creative Sources Records CS229
Reviewed by , October 1st, 2014

This is a European collaboration of free improvisers by Australian violinist Jon Rose, who also plays tenor violin, with Meinrad Kneer, a German double bass player based in Amsterdam, and UK composer/improviser Richard Barrett. Barrett divides his time between London and Berlin, and is also a member of the Australian International Elision Ensemble, noted for… continue reading »

Wave Rider

Andrea Keller Quartet with Strings
Improvisation, Jazz, New Music
Jazzhead, Head191
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Wave Rider could be the title of a seventies surfing movie, but in fact this album from Melbourne pianist Andrea Keller’s quartet with strings, is a beautiful hybrid of jazz, improvisation and composition. It is inspired by natural phenomena; waves in the forms of water, light and air. The strings are a second quartet. Erkki… continue reading »

Monash Art Ensemble

Monash Art Ensemble and the Australian Art Orchestra
Big Band, Improvisation, Jazz, Music
JazzHead, Head171
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

The Monash Art Ensemble is the fruit of the collaboration between members of the Australian Art Orchestra and the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, playing the music of Paul Grabowsky. The composer’s liner notes describe the bringing together of two worlds of improvisation and notation. There are two works on the recording: Variations (d’un… continue reading »

Tokyo 1972

Splitrec 23 Download:
Reviewed by , September 1st, 2014

Shimmering, wailing, rippling, humming, crashing, twittering, welling, creaking, scratching, stuttering, resounding, and slipping into silence: this is the soundworld created by Teletopa on Tokyo 1972. A short-lived and now legendary free improvisation ensemble based in Sydney, Teletopa was comprised of Geoffrey Collins (flute), Peter Evans (percussion), David Ahern (violin) and Roger Frampton (saxophone). Each member… continue reading »

Everything Here Is Possible

Alister Spence and Myra Melford, pianos
Reviewed by , August 1st, 2014

Everything Here Is Possible is a voyage into the shimmering musical unknown. In a set of five piano duets by Alister Spence (Sydney) and Myra Melford (New York), the exploration of different musical ideas and the creation of soundworlds is grounded in the clear impression of an exchange and transformation of improvisatory energy. This energy… continue reading »

Composed Noise: New Works for Improvising String Quartet (2 discs)

Post by , July 1st, 2014

The Noise String Quartet began as an ensemble committed to improvising its own music. For this, its second CD, The Noise has commissioned seven composers to write pieces that involve both composed and indeterminate elements, including improvisation strategies. Like many commissioning entities The Noise has worked closely with these composers to bring their creative conceptions… continue reading »

Multi-Piano 1978-2012

Roger Dean
Electronic Music, Improvisation, New Music
Tall Poppies Records TP225 (2 discs) 2012
Reviewed by , May 1st, 2014

This retrospective of Roger Dean’s work as an improvising pianist covers samples of work created from 1978 to 2012 from a variety of sources including recording sessions, live performances, live performances using pre-recorded material and studio-based editing/remixing exercises. Dean employs a range of styles and approaches to the piano, by itself and combined with electronic… continue reading »

Kinetic Conversations

Keith Humble (piano, electronic instruments), Bert Turetsky (contrabass)
Classical, Improvisation, Music, New Music
Move MD 3352
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Keith Humble (1927-1995) distinguished himself as a composer of concert and electro-acoustic music, as a brilliant interpreter of new music and as an educator. This collection of recordings with legendary American contrabassist, Bertram Turetsky, represents another side of Humble’s versatility, namely free improvisation.  Humble and Turetsky were colleagues in the music school at the University… continue reading »


Chris Abrahams, organ, Sabine Vogel, flute
Improvisation, Jazz
Absinth Records 024 limited edition
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Chris Abrahams is nothing if not versatile. Recently I was in Auckland, New Zealand, and happened to catch him in performance three times in a row. The first night was a sublime solo piano recital, which I wish had been recorded, consisting of two sets on a Yamaha in an art gallery in the depths… continue reading »

Such a Sky

Imogen Manins (cello), Tony Gould (piano), with Slava Grigoryan, David Jones, Riley Lee, Gian Slater, Eugene Ughetti
Arrangements, Improvisation
Move MD 3364
Reviewed by , April 1st, 2014

Imogen Manins and Tony Gould are Melbourne-based performers who have assembled this album from recordings made from a series of concerts they gave in 2012. Two of the tracks are credited to Gould as a composer, but the remainder of the selection is drawn from classical and popular repertoire. The format is like the jazz… continue reading »

Improvisations and Comprovisations

Improvisations and Comprovisations

Post by , March 2nd, 2014

Comprovisation (combining composition and improvisation) is an increasingly prominent feature of contemporary music, with exponents drawn from a range of backgrounds, including art music, jazz, and other commercial and contemporary music domains. Indeed, the act of comprovisation can offer a panacea for the strictures and structures of more formal musical pursuits, making it attractive to… continue reading »

Memory Night

Chris Abrahams, piano
Improvisation, Jazz
Room 40 RM453
Reviewed by , March 1st, 2014

Chris Abrahams’ third solo recording on Brisbane-based Lawrence English’s Room 40 label is a radical departure from his previous piano-based releases on the label, Thrown and Play Scar, insofar as we are mid-way through the third of four tracks before we hear a piano with any clarity, and then it appears only briefly. Most of… continue reading »

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