Crisis client George interviews Dan Goren of the Oxford Improvisers.

Dan, a trumpeter from the Oxford improviser’s has arranged to meet with me for an interview regarding the extraordinary music his collective produces.

I first ask Dan if the backgrounds of music from the group differ. He tells me simply yes, and also we exclude nobody due to technical ability, age, etc. We also incorporate a form of meditative dance called Buto that on observing a video of it also has the added advantage of full body make up. Maybe in order to imitate a character, so with all this combined think of a three dimensional picture to bring this picture to full fruition. The inspiration of this form of dance comes from Maggie Nickels.

His music is a spontaneous affair, influences from Leo Smith of AMCON, who started of playing drums and French horn before progressing onto the trumpet. AMCON was a group of experimental musicians based in the U.S.A but the musician whom he also sings praise of is Evan Parker, an Alto saxophonist based in the U.K. Experimental music in the U.S has a totally different approach than the experimentalists in the U.K.

What really fascinates me about their approach is they do not view themselves as a group but as a community. Musicians come and go all the time and this gives them the opportunity to get to know many different musicians as possible, with different backgrounds and approaches to communicating with one another on a wide spectrum of the performing arts. Ironically I ask Dan about some of the players closely linked to them and he mentions Pete McPhail, an Oxford based alto saxophonist who used to teach me years ago. I kind of knew he was going to mention Pete’s name.

When performing, the collective of musicians never play a role from a traditional perspective of a band where they play an intro and then their own solos at a particular time. They can choose at any given opportunity to voice their opinion or never. Other times two or three or more may feed off each other in a frantic exchange of communication but they may discuss who starts or who will drop out.

The most important aspect of this community of artists is to get to know each other, understand what musical influences make them the individual people that makes this collective the powerful tool that it is. Nobody is exiled, excluded, and the right for each and every one of them to exercise freedom is paramount.

Over the years since I first discovered musicians such as Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, and a plethora of other free players, it has broadened my musical perspective. It invigorates a dormant musical sense within oneself to fruition and exposes the listener to players’ that will inevitably evoke an incredibly colourful, and visceral music that has a pertinent message woven into its fabric.

I have heard this collective twice now and would strongly urge anyone that has an open mind to free music and wants to experience that genre of music in order to expand that open mindedness, then you need to get yourself to their concerts in the loft at Crisis Skylight Oxford. You can find out more information about their gigs at reception, or your progression coach.

You can see the Oxford Improvisers at the Old Fire Station every other month. Find out more.