Reviews that mention Tony Oxley

February 26, 2021

Tony Oxley

February Papers

Phil Wachsmann

Writing in Water

Corbett vs Dempsey CD 074

Reissued and available to a large audience that wasn’t that interested first time out, are two British improvisation classics from the 1970s and 1980s which among other virtues illuminate Phil Wachsmann’s contributions to violin evolution. Among the most prominent stylists in Free Music whose background was so-called classical music rather than Jazz, the Uganda-born string player multi-genre technique is spotlighted in a solo setting on 1985’s Writing in Water. More than seven years previously Wachsmann was already proving his skill set on most tracks of February Papers, a unique date for drummer Tony Oxley. MORE

December 16, 2020

Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley

Birdland, Neuburg 2011
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 13/2020

By Ken Waxman

A re-mastered radio broadcast of a two-part improvisation by American pianist Cecil Taylor (1929- 2018) and British percussionist Tony Oxley (b. 1938) at an intimate German club performance Birdland offers irrefutably evidence of the mastery of men who had at that point been collaborating for more than two decades.

Free Music avatar and one of the 20th Century’s most influential musicians, Taylor’s sound world is only off-putting if one is frightened by modern music. Dramatic, shaded and fluid, as demonstrate here, while spontaneous, every key stroke follows cerebral logic, with each piece possessing as categorical an introduction, elaboration and conclusion as any notated score. Shaking and vibrating the keyboard and pedals in both smooth and rugged fashions, Taylor’s instantly identifiable style evolves at various pitches and speeds. Often he adds pressurized extensions to intricately elaborated sequences, detouring along unexpected sonic alleyways, then cannily changing course to avoid meandering into musical dead ends. Meanwhile Oxley’s paradigm includes wooden slaps, clanging cymbal and drum plops, each precisely timed so that the pianist’s sudden staccato runs or leaps from one register to another never catch him off guard, but are shadowed or amplified and appropriately balanced. MORE

December 11, 2020

London Jazz Composers Orchestra

That Time
NotTwo MW 1001-2

Peter Kowald Quintet

Peter Kowald Quintet

Corbett vs Dempsey CD 0070

Marion Brown

Why Not? Porto Nova Revisited

ezz-thetics 1106


Live At The Jazzgalerie Nickelsdorf 1978

The Lost Tapes Of Austrian Free-Jazz Avantgarde – Vol. 1

Black-Monk BMCD-03

Hershoo Beshoo Group

Armitage Road

We Are Busy Bodies WABB-063

Something in the Air: Care and Craftsmanship Means that Unusual Sessions are Back in Circulation

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

May 24, 2015

Tony Oxley

A Birthday Tribute: 75 years
Incus CD 63

A superior if somewhat inconsistent homage to British master drummer Tony Oxley for his 75th birthday, this CD concentrates more on his skills as accompanist and pioneering electro-acoustic musician than his breakthroughs as someone who worked out a new style for percussion in Free Music.

Oxley’s new drumming concepts in the mid-1960s moved him from being an in-demand London-based Bopper to early experiments with guitarist Derek Bailey and later long-time associations with pianist Cecil Taylor and trumpeter Bill Dixon. However A Birthday Tribute: is a bit patchy, since the five live tracks match two 1993 improvisations by the drummer, Bailey, keyboardist Pat Thomas and sampler player Matt Wand with three 1977 selections with different players. Using amplified percussion as opposed to an un-electrified set on the first numbers, Oxley plays one number alone, one with the late trombonist Paul Rutherford, whose horn is similarly electrified, and the longest with the still-very-active violinist Phillip Wachsmann plus guitarist Ian Brighton, who seems to have vanished from the scene. MORE

September 20, 2011


Improvised Pieces for Trio
Big Round Records BR 8904

Sebastiano Meloni/Nicola Cossu/Roberto Dani



Unheralded overseas, but respected by his peers, Sebastiano Meloni is an avocational pianist based in Cagliari, Italy, whose job as a secondary school teacher gives him the freedom to pursue his own gigs as an improviser. Certainly the 26 performances on these two discs show an original stylist who deserves more playing exposure and less time spent as a teacher of Italian, History and Geography. MORE

February 28, 2005


Last Set: Live at the 1369 Jazz Club
Boxholder BXH 042

Berlin Djungle
Atavistic Unheard Music Series UMS/ALP 246CD

Getting an understanding of the situation for committed free improvisers in Europe as opposed to the United States in the mid-1980s is pretty obvious when listening to these two live CDs, recorded about two months apart, both of which happen to have William Parker in the bass chair.

In early November 1984, German reedist Peter Brötzmann put together an international, all-star, 11-piece “Clarinet Project” for a special concert in a Berlin theatre as part of that city’s Jazzfest. Beside himself the clarinetists were Tony Coe from England, Louis Sclavis from France, East German Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and J. D. Parran and John Zorn from the U.S. But that’s not all. The ensemble also included Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, East German Johannes Bauer and Briton Alan Tomlinson on trombones, with British drummer Tony Oxley supplying the bottom along with Parker. By all accounts the one lengthy piece was welcomed by the audience. MORE

October 1, 2004

Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation

By Ben Watson
Verso Books

by Ken Waxman

October 1, 2004

Endlessly inventive as an improviser and a superb organizer, guitarist Derek Bailey is also opinionated, combative, passively aggressive, dogmatic and often self-satisfied. Still, the 74-year-old Sheffield, England-born Bailey is pretty much at Ground Zero when it comes to discussing Free Music, at least in its British manifestation.

London-based critic Ben Watson attempts to explain both the man and his music in this volume. Yet Watson also tries for much more than standard biographical, chronological and discographical fact gathering. He not only ponders Free Music’s place among other, more commercial musics, but also tries to show how experimental sounds reflect musicians’ liberation from what he sees as a class-ridden, capitalist society. MORE

April 26, 2004


Song for Someone
psi 04.01

Epitome of the polite, quiet Canadian, trumpeter/flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler has now lived in Great Britain for more than a half century. During that time he’s gone from playing in large dance and bebop bands to working with international free music ensembles to creating a modified synthesis of all those influences as his own music.

This direct reissue of a 1973 LP may have been when it was first released the most conventional item on what was then guitarist Derek Bailey’s and saxophonist Evan Parker’s Incus label. Wheeler had already played free music with drummer John Stevens and was soon to begin an association with experimenters like American reedist Anthony Braxton and the German-based Globe Unity Orchestra. But except for a couple of tracks, the pieces he wrote for this date mostly meld his big band past with his moody, reflective streak. MORE

May 19, 2003


The Tony Oxley-Alan Davie Duo
a|l|l 005

Application Interaction And...
High4Head HFHCD002

Pioneering Scottish Abstract Expressionist Alan Davie had his first one-man exhibition in London in 1950, at height of the Cool Jazz era, when he was also making his name as a painter, poet and multi-instrumentalist. Keeping up with musical changes, Davie, born in 1920, eventually developed a longstanding playing partnership with percussionist Tony Oxley, born in 1938, who is one of the founders of restrained BritImprov and a painter in his own right. The improv duo sessions here were recorded in 1974 and 1975, and are reissued with two additional tracks for the first time since their appearance on LP in 1975. MORE

May 17, 2002


Floating Phantoms
a/l/l 001

Saying that the members of The B.I.M.P. Quartet created an electrifying performance on this CD recorded at 1999’s Total Music Meeting in Berlin is as amusing as it is accurate. That’s because the four represent two generations of British improvisers who wholeheartedly embrace the different textures available from arching kilowatts, and have long been bending machines to do their bidding.

Leader and figurehead is percussionist Tony Oxley, who with guitarist Derek Bailey was one of the seminal figures in BritImprov as long ago as the mid-1960s. But, like his contemporary -- and on-again-off-again-playing partner -- pianist Cecil Taylor, he keeps adding new torque to his initial non-linear conception. Oxley, who now lives in Viersen, Germany, has played so-called electronic drums since the 1970s. MORE

May 31, 2001


Triangular Screen
SOFA 501

Resident of Germany for many years, vanguard British percussionist Tony Oxley has long been the link between more robust Continental and American improvisers and the rarefied sounds he and others pioneered in London in the late 1960s.

Modest, he never pulls rank when it comes to working with other musicians and dealing with their ideas. And the title of this live CD proves it. Metaphorically, 63-year-old Oxley, who has numbered such Free Jazz heavyweights as pianist Cecil Taylor, trumpeter Bill Dixon and pianist Paul Bley as playing partners, sees himself here on equal footing with two young Norwegian improvisers. He's one-third of a triangle. MORE