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Interviews

John Tilbury: A Strong Emotional Response To Music

By Published: August 17, 2010
AAJ: Then we get further into politics.

JT: I haven't voted at the last three elections. I got fed up voting for the lesser of three evils, because there is no choice. There is a neo- liberal/conservative agenda which all the main Parties are pursuing quite ruthlessly. Maybe the rate of change might vary. That's all.



AAJ: With the tailor-made excuse of the global economic situation. Is it any different than the agenda they would have pursued anyway?

JT: I think the Greeks are showing the way. It is coming to that, it will be fought on the streets. It is now down to that level.

Nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century, to describe someone as a Marxist is of no more consequence than describing him or her as a vegetarian, and of less significance than describing someone as an environmentalist or, ironically, as an anti- capitalist. Moreover, nowadays, Marxism usually bears a prefix—post, post-Marxism, either, presumably, because Marxism is deemed obsolete, irrelevant, or that it has been subsumed as a small but not insignificant part of a broader, contemporary narrative. (Wall Street economists still read Marx, apparently.) So when people ask me about my politics I always reply that I am an unregenerate communist. Speaking of which, I recall E.P. Thompson, a key figure in the politics of dissent, in a TV program not so long before his death in 1993, comparing the "very high quality of political discussion" that was the norm in the so-called "Stalinist" British Communist Party with his experiences as a member of the Labour Party, which he described as "an organization absolutely designed to defeat thought of any kind."

With the advent of the new "dark ages," we dissenters may indeed disappear or, in George Steiner's words, "be confined to small islands of archaic conversation." With my performances of Feldman and Beckett and my fragile improvisations, I am already doing that. According to Aristotle, art is a kind of therapy which accords with my own experience of art as an essential part of an "survival strategy."

Selected Discography

AMM, Sounding Music (Matchless, 2010)

The Smith Quartet with John Tilbury, Music for Piano and Strings by Morton Feldman (Matchless DVD, 2010)

John Tilbury / Sebastian Lexer, Lost Daylight (Another Timbre, 2010)

Werner Dafeldecker / Christof Kurzmann / John Tilbury / Stevie Wishart, Dafeldecker/Kurzmann/Tilbury/Wishart (Mikroton, 2009)

Polwechsel / John Tilbury, Field (hatOLOGY, 2009)

Cornelius Cardew / The QUaX Ensemble / Petr Kotik, Treatise (Mode, 2009)

David Sylvian, Manofon (Samadhisound, 2009)

John Tilbury, Triadic Memories—Notte Stellate A Vagli (Atopos, 2008)

AMM, Trinity (Matchless, 2008)

Looper / John Tilbury, Mass (Esquilo DVD, 2007)

Hervé Boghossian, John Tilbury & Mark Wastell, Archi. Texture Vol. 1 (Cathnor, 2006)

Marcus Schmickler / John Tilbury, Variety (A-Musik, 2005)

John Tilbury, Plays Samuel Beckett (Matchless, 2005)

John Tilbury, Barcelna Piano Solo (Rossbin, 2005)

AMM, Norwich (Matchless, 2005)

AMM, Apogee (Matchless, 2005)

John Tilbury / Eddie Prévost, Discreet Moments (Matchless, 2004)

AMM, Formanex (fibrr, 2003)

Keith Rowe / John Tilbury, Duos for Doris (Erstwhile, 2003)

MIMEO / John Tilbury, The Hands of Caravaggio (Erstwhile, 2002)

John Tilbury, Morton Feldman, All Piano (London HALL, 1999)

Photo Credits

Page 3: Christian Wolfarth

Page 7: Fergus Kelly

All Other Photos: Claudio Casanova, Courtesy of AllAboutJazz Italia


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