Word Sound Power at the Albany, 7 Oct 2009
An experimental collaborative improvisation performance
I’m always open to new ideas so when London-based poet, writer, producer and DJ Charlie Dark contacted me in May 2009 to find out if I’d be interested in taking a part in a performance based on experimental collaborations at the Albany in October I accepted the offer. At first there was speculation that I would collaborate with a poet (my partner happens to be a poet) but when it turned out that my partner was not available I suggested to Charlie that I could work with a musician.
Within a few weeks Charlie called me back to let me know he had found a great drummer for with me – Soliheen. It was only after the conversation had ended that I realised I had no idea what kind of performance to do with just tap and a drummer. So this was a new challenge for me and I was a little nervous.
Now Charlie was happy for Soliheen and I to jam on the night of the event and see what happened but I wanted to have a session before the event. So the evening before the Word Sound Power event I met Soliheen for the first time. (The world is small and it turns out that not only had Soliheen worked with my partner several years ago but that he is going out with a friend of mine so he knew a little about me.)
The Albany technician was great in setting up a the tap performance area for me and Soliheen’s kit all set we were ready to jam. After a quick call to Charlie to check a few details I realised I had a 30 minute set (it seemed I had forgotten this small detail), so I worked with Soliheen for a couple of hours in the studio at the Albany to develop some ideas. By the end of the evening I had a rough idea of what we would do but since it was a jam there was nothing set in stone – I had rough idea on how to start the jam but decided to trust our instincts on how it would develop on the night!
Well the event was finally upon us and despite my calm exterior I was extremely nervous. It was the longest set I had ever done with the smallest number of performers – just 2. But the beauty about improvisation is that you never know what’s going to happen. It’s about the risk. At first I was certain that we couldn’t fill 30 minutes and keep it interesting – for ourselves or the audience – but on the contrary it was quite the opposite. In fact I had told Charlie we only had about 20min and so the plan was to include a Q&A after our performance.
As it turned out the jam went really well for both myself and Soliheen and I was relieved to find the audience had also enjoyed it. In fact it went so well I had Albany staff telling me how they’d heard good things about it when I visited the venue for another event a week later – and that was by people who hadn’t seen it!
Obviously not all experiments have happy endings but when you have good people to work with the odds are higher. So thanks to Charlie for the great opportunity, and to Soliheen for his hardwork, patience and great drumming.