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Eddie Prevost: Looking Back, Looking Forward

By Published: March 17, 2010

AAJ: Everybody gets a crack of the whip.

EP: Exactly. That is the only thing I encourage. I don't insist. It is their focus; they do it; they don't even ask me to play. [Laughs.] That must say something; I'm not sure what, really. So they do it, and then we have a team of people. Paul Abbott usually does the design and organizes the printing. There is a team of people to try and make it happen. We are starting a monthly forum in October [2009] because it is one of the things that is absent from the workshop. It used to be more common in the early days when there were fewer people; we had time to talk about things. Now there is not enough time to talk—the occasional flicker, but there are too many people who spend too much time not playing. So we are going to try having one evening a month where we just discuss. Anyone who comes to the workshop can come to that. It might not go anywhere, but that is the design. We'll try it for a few months. If people want to do it and it has some positive effect, then we'll continue with it, like the workshop itself.

AAJ: What do you think the effect will be? Do you think there will be more preplanning of things?

EP: I hope not preplanning. I hope it will be an articulation of what goes on in the workshop and thereafter. I think if we—I mean "we" in the largest possible sense—as an artistic community don't articulate our thoughts then somebody else will do it for us. I think theory should come out of the arts—no original thinking here. Maybe we'll find out that it's all a waste of time. I know there is a lot of them who are quite articulate; I'm quite keen to follow that lot up. I don't want to anticipate too much, but I'd like to think there will be some subsequent attempts to articulate certain features of the music in a written narrative form. We need it. Even for our own clarification, it might be useful beyond our own fellowship, so to speak.

AAJ: Some of the notes that you write for the Café Oto session are like a declaration of intent, of the underlying philosophy of it.

EP: I did one thing for that, and Paul has extracted bits and pieces for that. You can't say, "This is the best thing since sliced bread." On the other hand, somebody who has come to it completely fresh needs some information about what we are doing. It is not a question of philosophizing or over-theorizing, just a straightforward explanation of roughly what we are up to—always due for modification, clarification, redefinition as time goes on. It seems to help.

AAJ: It also makes interesting reading.

EP: I think there is a younger cadre of people that will take that investigation on and articulate it more appropriately for their generation. Personally, that is what I would want to see. I think there is a fair chance of that happening. There are already one or two indications of that happening without the forum being a focus for it. It won't do any harm, I don't think. If we run out of things to say, we'll go down the pub.

AAJ: Daichi Yoshikawa, a workshop regular, uses electronic noises. Over the 10 years the workshop has been running, has there been a shift towards that, in terms of what people are turning up with and are playing?

EP: I suppose in the early days, it was: "Not another bloody electric guitarist," serried ranks of electric guitarists. It has gone through cycles, really. There was a predominance of electric guitars, then there was an occasion we had loads of saxophones. We've had four bass clarinets on one evening; that is pretty unusual. That only happened once, I think. It was quite remarkable. I remember one night, we had three oboes. Three! One is a rarity. Two of them did know each other, so came together. It was great having them there. There's less of the electrical; it is evening out.

AAJ: Have you had gangs of laptopists?

EP: They've receded again; there are not so many of them. It is more hands-on electronics now—using some digital material and other materials to create sound—amplifying them and then treating them either via computer or electronically. There is still a whole range of conventional instruments, not normally used in the conventional way. [Laughs.] They have evolved over hundreds of years, some of them, and they are great for what they do—they produce sound even if you don't do quite what the makers intended! There has been a shift. It is quite evenly balanced, at the moment. I used to get worried at the predominance of electric guitars, but it's a good balance now—usually three or four people using electronics, maybe one or two using amplified instruments, and then a whole range of conventional instruments—a good mix from a sound point of view.

Selected Discography

SUM, Invenio Ergo (Matchless, 2009)
Alexander von Schlippenbach/Eddie Prévost, Blackheath (Matchless, 2008)
Eddie Prévost/Seymour Wright, Gamut (Matchless, 2008)
AMM, Trinity (Matchless, 2008)
Eddie Prévost/Alan Wilkinson/Joe Williamson, Along Came Joe (Matchless, 2006)
Alan Wilkinson/Eddie Prévost, So Are We, So Are We (Matchless, 2006)
Eddie Prévost, Entelechy (Matchless, 2006)
John Butcher/Eddie Prévost, Interworks (Matchless, 2005)
AMM, Norwich (Matchless, 2005)
AMM/MEV, Apogee (Matchless, 2005)
John Tilbury/Eddie Prévost, Discrete Moments (Matchless, 2004)
Evan Parker/Eddie Prévost, Imponderable Evidence (Matchless, 2004)
Eddie Prévost Trio, The Blackbird's Whistle (Matchless, 2004)
Conditions, A Bright Nowhere (Matchless, 2003)
9!, None(-t) (Matchless, 2003)
Christian Woolf, Early Piano Music (Matchless, 2002)
Eddie Prévost, Material Consequences (Matchless, 2002)
AMM, Fine (Matchless, 2001)
AMM, Tunes Without Measure or End (Matchless, 2001)
Eddie Prévost Trio, The Virtue in If (Matchless, 2001)

Photo Credits
Page 1: Eyal Hareuveni

Page 2: Courtesy of BBC Radio 3

Page 4: Theo Eshetu

Page 5: Courtesy of Jazz e Arredores

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