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Keith Tippett 1947-2020

Oliver Weindling writes:

One of the great privileges of involvement at the Vortex is that one gets to know some of the great musicians. And Keith was no exception.

Gigs by Keith Tippett at the Vortex  were always something very special. His solos or duos with Julie had the ability to transport us to spiritual highs. Even so, Mujician was an incredible band, with one album actually recorded at the Vortex. I had a quick look at the calendar of the club and am reminded also of the duo that he did with Louis Moholo and the octet From Granite To Wind.

I was lucky enough at one point to hear his octet, Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonogon, which he premiered at the club, three times in one week, and I could have willingly heard it more. He also greatly encouraged young musicians: Raph Clarkson told me that his first opportunity to improvise was an unforgettable experience at the age of 8! Meanwhile we had a couple of performances of Keith and Julie with young musician Theo May. And Keith was absolutely right to give him equal billing.

His arranging, whether for large ensemble, strings or choir was impeccable. And he had a disarming modesty when I asked him how he learnt to do it. He just put it down to hard work.

He had been ill on-and-off for a while. We had a memorable Soft Machine fundraiser for him, but were then really happy when he came back to play again with Julie and Theo.

Keith was part of a special group of musicians, who cemented improvised music into the European psyche. So lucky that they often came to the club. But thank goodness that they have created an amazing legacy in the next generation and beyond.


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