Keith Tippett – piano
Louis Moholo-Moholo – drums
AT LAST! For the first time in over 30 years these two giants perform as a duo on a British stage!
Playing as a duo for first time in over 30 years, this night matches two iconic musicians, known for their range of influences and technical prowess. Keith Tippett’s piano playing is mesmerising, while Louis Moholo-Moholo still captures the energy and surprise that he brought over already to this country when a member of the legendary Blue Notes.
It is always a major occasion whenever Keith Tippett or Louis Moholo-Moholo appear at the club, and here we are bringing the two of them together to celebrate one of the most important partnerships in the history of jazz in this country. When we arranged this date Keith said: “Tell them that between us we’ll be bringing 146 years of music, experience and comradeship to the occasion.” A more remarkable figure lies in the amount of this time they have spent working together. It may surprise some people that, although Louis’ name will always be associated with Chris McGregor, his most enduring relationship has been with Keith – and this goes back to quite early days. Keith says that they first worked together in 1969. Louis was a member of Centipede (in a later line-up than on the record) and Keith’s other major 1970’s project – The Ark. Similarly, when Louis formed his own band – Spirits Rejoice – he turned to Keith for piano.
Equally importantly, the partnership was in demand from other musicians and went on to provide the backbone of the most thrilling bands of the 1970’s and ‘80’s – Isipingo and several of Elton Dean’s groups, notably Ninesesnse, come to mind. This was a golden era of British jazz when some of the finest musicians this country has produced were regularly jamming in small clubs and the back rooms of pubs, and the excitement always went up a notch whenever the Keith /Louis combination was on stage. We were also lucky enough to see them a few times in the ‘90’s through Elton Dean’s Jazz Rumours sessions at the original Vortex, and of course the association continues to this day as they are the mainstays of the Dedication Orchestra.
It was only a matter of time before a promoter recognized their potential performing as a duo. To the best of Keith’s memory the first occasion was in Berlin in 1980 (released as “No Gossip” on FMP).
The only performances in this country came when the Bracknell Festival was transferred to a stately home in Tring in 1985(?). On the Sunday night the duo received a standing ovation for their performance on the main stage which was followed by a huge roar as they were joined by Julie Tippetts and Maggie Nicols for the encore. However, for a fortunate few festival-goers the real event had happened the previous afternoon in a small room in the house. Keith had been booked to do a solo performance there, but because of last minute rescheduling (the day’s famous American headliner had cancelled) found that the room was free for a couple of hours afterwards, so the duo gave an impromptu performance. Everyone was transfixed. The only interruption came when an announcement was made that a replacement famous American headliner was about to play on the main stage. Scarcely anyone left. The music was too intense, mesmerising and rapturous. For this audience the Sunday performance had to be an anticlimax because the intimacy could never be captured in a marquee – to be fully appreciated it needs a good piano in small room.
And then it disappeared. Possibly a lack of suitable venues was: a factor, and opportunities have become scarcer since Louis moved back to South Africa, but in retrospect this seems an extraordinary oversight. Indeed it seems the only times we see Keith and Louis together are rare Dedication Orchestra concerts. Their other collaborations have occurred abroad, notably in Italy where they have done various projects with Canto General as well as duo performances (some tracks from 1996 make up much of Louis” cd “Mpumi” on Ogun). At last we can start to set this to rights.
So here you have it: the British reunion of two comrades who met as young men, have played together ever since and become world famous in the process….with a good piano in a small room.
Advance booking recommended.