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Peter Zummo On Tour In UK
Emily Moore , October 16th, 2014 10:33

Peter Zummo tells Emily Moore about his 6 tet, comprising Ernie Brooks, Bill Ruyle, JD Twitch, Oliver Coates and Bass Clef, playing this week

Earlier this week, three Americans arrived in London and were directed to an address on Hackney Road. Also sent to the location were two Englishmen and one Scot. Together in a room for the first time, they looked around and may have wondered what, exactly, to say.

"You will have heard Peter Zummo's trombone," the line goes, "if you have listened to almost any of Arthur Russell's songs." And you will have heard Russell if, perhaps, you have ever tuned into Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone, or if you are conversant with Philip Glass's mid-career output, or if you have hunted down some of the rarer 7"s favoured by Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage, or if you have spent hours online tracing live recordings of the Talking Heads further and further back in time until you find an alternate, acoustic version of 'Psycho Killer' and marvel at the enthusiastic cello that punctuates David Byrne's cool, nasally vocals.

The Brits had certainly heard Zummo's trombone, and Ernie Brooks' bass, and Bill Ruyle's hammer dulcimer and percussion, had parsed their melodies and beats and breaths on 'This Is How We Walk On The Moon' and 'Is It All Over My Face?' and 'Go Bang' (and much more of Russell's extensive catalogue of songs and instrumental music) the way connoisseurs might a Charlie Haden bass line on a Don Cherry record. Russell had long been a guiding light for the way the Brits thought about music - for DJ Keith McIvor, best known as JD Twitch of Glasgow's Optimo; for dubstep trombonist Ralph Cumbers, aka Bass Clef; and for cellist Oliver Coates - but he had passed away in 1992, aged 40. Only in the last few years have labels like Soul Jazz, Rough Trade and Audika started to release some of the vast and astonishingly diverse archive he left behind. Now, here the Brits were, with Russell's closest collaborators, staring at each other across a rehearsal room.

Here, in an exclusive dispatch from the studio, Zummo talks about what happened next: "Having been curated into a close collaboration with artists I have not previously met, I did much pre-planning and forward thinking about how to structure the situation. After a four-hour rehearsal, I am pleased to have found that we all share a common language in music, performance, electro-acoustic sensibility and taste. We Americans come from a long-standing tradition of open-form composition, in which substantial material presented by the composer is rendered by the musicians with notable degrees of freedom in a real-time evolving time frame. The tradition in the UK appears to have evolved along similar paths, in the use of electronic forms, which include both DJ (vinyl and laptop) technology as well as tabletop electronics, and the contemporary cello with electronic extensions. (And the sound of vinyl, which clearly comes through in Keith's contributions, is lovely.)

"While we started with a notion that Keith and Ralph would have a separate place in the show, along with the American trio plus Oliver, in rehearsal we found that we could do almost all of the material we had collected and selected as a sextet. We look forward to developing this interaction over the course of the four shows."

The Peter Zummo 6 tet played London last night, and will be heading out across the UK for the following shows:

Thu 16 - Summerhall, Edinburgh
Fri 17 - The Tin at the Coal Vaults, Coventry (without JD Twitch)
Sat 18 - Cube Cinema, Bristol (without Oliver Coates)