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CONVERGENCES, DIVERGENCES & AFFINITIES

The Second Wave Of Free Improvisation
In England, 1973-1979

Trevor Barre

Compass Publishing

 

http://www.improvmusic.co.uk/new/

 

 

 

Sub-titled The Second Wave Of Free Improvisation In England, 1973-79, this is Barre’s second book about English Free Improvisation, and follows his Beyond Jazz, The Golden Age Of Free Music in London, 1966-72, an account of the genre’s formative years. Beyond Jazz was well received and gained many favourable reviews in the press. In particular, it seemed that the book both shone a light on, and provided a much-needed account of, a music that had previously been next to ignored in the media. It was, in fact, the first such book of its kind, surprising given the lionisation of most other genres from the ’60s and ’70s.
 
 
If Beyond Jazz suggests a Golden Age, then Convergences can be said to cover a seven-year Silver Age, when free improv developed and changed, whilst remaining challenging and provocative, England’s very own avant-garde, which paralleled and interacted with more popular strains like punk and post-punk. A fair amount of recorded evidence exists and is discussed in the book, and we are lucky that it is complemented by the contemporary magazine Musics, which is also studied in some detail as the house organ of the “movement”. The emergence of a “second generation” is studied, and the continuing work of the first, and the formation of several musical collectives/cooperatives across the country, gets the attention it finally deserves. The figures of Steve Beresford, Lol Coxhill and Terry Day are identified as key mischief-making talents that represent the serious fun that the music provided, and get their own dedicated sections in the book.
 
Written in a non-technical way, inviting newcomers to free improvisation to learn about what can initially appear a very opaque scene, as well as wanting to appeal to those older fans who like a good story, Convergences will attract, not repel.
 
Along with Beyond Jazz, Convergences, Divergences & Affinities continues the history of this fascinating and divisive art form. The two books together chronicle the first 15 years of English free improvisation, a hard to generify area of music that is still manifesting
 
As well as encouraging those new to the genre to listen without prejudice, the book will prompt veteran listeners to reinvestigate its roots, dig out old recordings and venture out to witness the music live – the best way, in Barre’s view – to appreciate its joys and challenges.
 
 
About the author
 
Trevor Barre has been a fan of the music since the early ’70s. Since retiring as a mental health practitioner, he has found the time to translate his enthusiasms into the written word. Many moons ago, he managed a record shop, which aided his burgeoning vinyl dependence. He has lived in London for 32 years, usually within striking distance of improvised music venues, is married, and has three children.

 

 

 

 

 

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