“it is odd to talk about a piano/bass/drums trio as a radical departure. But it is impossible to think of this meeting between bassist John Edwards, drummer Mark Sanders, and pianist John Tilbury in any other way . . . from the first notes, the three erase any notion of piano trio conventions . . . the three build tensile drama from moments of fractured intensity which break against pools of calm . . . you should jump on this one quickly” – Michael Rosensten, Point of Departure
“this one-off encounter is truly an exceptional listening experience” – Burning Ambulance
“London has long had a pedigree of crossbreeding improv’s various styles and generations, but few have been as successful as this” – Richard Pinnell, The Wire
In his review of Exta, the critic Brian Olewnick commented that “there’s a tendency on the part of [John Tilbury’s] younger companions to defer a bit to him”, adding that, in his view, this was not “necessarily a bad strategy”. In this encounter, their first as a trio, John Edwards and Mark Sanders do not defer to Tilbury at all, and it proves to be perhaps the best strategy of all.
This is a vigorous music of equals, the democratic clamour of three distinct personalities committed to occupying a common space and working together to create something collective without erasing their differences in the process. There’s tension, even friction, at times between Edwards and Sanders’ quickness and Tilbury’s more measured approach, but it’s a productive tension and one that enables all three to explore areas of their playing that perhaps aren’t always foregrounded: Edwards’ ability to wait and patiently twist long resonant notes out of near nothingness; Sanders’ sense of space and sharp delicacy with small sounds; and Tilbury’s thunderous density and energetic attack.
It’s a startling performance and one that, like all great improvisation, exceeds, and perhaps even upsets, expectations.
John Edwards – double bass
Mark Sanders – drums and percussion
John Tilbury – bird calls, piano and tape
Recorded by Katherine Arnold at Cafe Oto on 17 June 2013
Mixed and mastered by Rupert Clervaux at Gray’s Inn Road
Title from Martha Rosler, Culture Class (Sternberg Press, 2013)
Music by John Edwards, Mark Sanders and John Tilbury (PRS)
Produced by Trevor Brent