The Electrics

Axel Dörner · John Edwards · Sture Ericson · Raymond Strid

Thursday, June 27 · On The Boards Studio Theater · 100 W Roy · 8 PM · $10

The Electrics, whose first CD Chain of Accidents (Ayler Records) is about to appear, is Axel Dörner (trumpet, slide trumpet), Sture Ericson (saxes, bass clarinet), Raymond Strid (drums), and usually Ingebrigt Hâker Flaten (bass), replaced for this performance by Englishman John Edwards. The band formed in 2000 to further ideas that Dörner and Ericson had developed in an earlier project. They turned to drummer Raymond Strid, who had worked extensively with Dörner, and to the young, extremely talented Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Hâker Flaten. The results, in keeping with the name of the (although-acoustic) quartet, are an electrifying rhythmic drive and tension, and a broad spectrum of sounds and energies, that complement Dörner and Ericson's horns as they explore open-minded free-jazz and free-improv realms.

Trumpeter Axel Dörner explores the full range of his instrument's capabilities, easing, coaxing, or wrenching sounds from its every curve and cranny. As with several of this year's SIMF guests, his musical path leads through many of the highest points of European improv of the last decade. He began his musical life, however, as a pianist. Born in Cologne in 1964, he studied piano at the Arnhem and Cologne conservatories (1988-96). He began studying trumpet in 1991 at the latter institution, while playing locally with the likes of drummer John Betsch before forming the Axel Dörner Quartet with Frank Gratkowski, Hans Schneider, and Martin Blume, and the trio The Remedy whose added guests included Peter Kowald and Tom Cora. In 1994 Dörner moved to Berlin where he has collaborated with a who's who of the heaviest of European and American out-jazz and improvising musicians. His projects have included several with pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, including his and Sam Rivers's Improvisors Pool and a quintet that also included George Lewis, Evan Parker, and Paul Lovens. He has also worked with the improv-all-star King Übü Örchestrü; Butch Morris's Berlin Skyscraper; the London Jazz Composers Orchestra; Fred Van Hove's t'Nonet; and small combos with the likes of Sven-Ĺke Johansson, Matthias Bauer, Chris Burn, Thomas Lehn, Phil Minton, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Mark Sanders, Lol Coxhill, and Wolfgang Fuchs.

"A demanding and highly creative soundworld" — Musings

John Edwards first came to prominence as bass player for the eclectic B Shops for the Poor, a quintet for four saxophones, guitar, and drum beats, in reaction to which Edwards improvised on bass, at times joined by Peter Brötzmann on sax. Edwards then became a fixture on the European free-jazz and free-improv scene, playing with the group God, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Eddie Prévost, and many others. Renowned for his "anarchic virtuosity," as Clive Bell put it in Resonance magazine, Edwards has provided powerful and innovative bass playing to a great variety of projects, including musical collaboration with the Cholmondeleys dance company, and The Great Explorers, a duo in which he and cellist David Fitzgerald perform ambitious musical-visual presentations. A vaunted figure in English improv, he has collaborated with many of its leading players, including Lol Coxhill, Evan Parker, Alan Tomlinson, Roger Turner, and Jon Lloyd, in whose quartet he plays with Mark Sanders (see Lunge). Well worth seeking out is Operet, his recording collaboration between Eastern Mediterranean singer Viv Corringham and experimental guitarist Peter Cusack, joining songwriting and traditional and avant-garde music. Edwards also is a member of the giant all-star band the London Improvisers Orchestra, a who's who of the English scene whose repertoire includes pieces by Caroline Kraabel.

"he succeeds in joining refinement and extreme technical agility with a very physical and energetic way of playing ... which gives his sound an unmistakable character"—Fabrizio Spera

During the 1980s, Sture Ericson (saxes, bass clarinet) had an experience that is rare in free music: he was in a successful touring band, Position Alpha, which was invited from its native Sweden to perform in major jazz festivals all around Europe. The band won kudos from Cadence, The Wire, and Down Beat and recorded six albums. A practitioner of free improv since the late 1970s, Ericson was a member of Position Alpha from 1979-95. He then withdrew from public performance for a few years – "I needed a pause to think and to sort out and work on my musical ideas and to get clear in my mind what direction I felt was the right one for me," he says. Moving from Sweden to Denmark, he was rejuvenated, he says, by meeting Axel Dörner and then forming The Electrics. He also has an electro-acoustic free-improv trio, Per-Son-Ell, with Martin Klapper (toys & live electronics) and Rex Caswell (guitar with preparations and electronics), an early member of the group Stock Hausen & Walkman. In free-improv and free-jazz modes, Ericson has also worked with Phil Minton, David Stackenäs, Thomas Lehn, Barry Guy, Frode Gjerstad, and Andrea Neumann.

The mighty Swedish drummer and percussionist Raymond Strid, whose reputation is in rapid ascent, came up in Stockholm's small but increasingly vibrant free-improv/free-jazz scene. As a teen, his intense study of jazz led him to decide to play the music himself, but by the time he did, in his late teens, on guitar, he was already hooked on English and German free-improv music by the likes of Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann. In 1977, at age 21, he switched to drums. He obtained some classical percussion training, but he never learned to play rock or jazz drums, going instead straight into free-jazz and -improv. In 1987 he invited the saxophonist Mats Gustafsson to join him in an improvising game he devised in which 15 musicians rotated, on the roll of a die, through three floors and six rooms of a factory building. Since then, he has recorded with Gustafsson in the company of bassists Sten Sandell and the renowned Barry Guy. About the Guy-Gustafsson-Strid trio, Chris Blackford wrote in The Wire that they had "shorn away virtually all references to free jazz in their pursuit of a self-sufficient abstract soundworld." Rather than emphasize beat, Strid has himself written, he seeks "an underlying pulse and tempo which derive from my natural breathing cycles" and he has been praised for his senses of communicativeness and space even among the most torrid or rarefied playing environments, such as in performances and recordings with the likes of Philipp Wachsmann, Marilyn Crispell, Roger Turner, Evan Parker, and John Butcher.

"The best Raymond there is! Yes, yes, yes. He rules the planet! Raymond is the king of Sweden!" — Mats Gustafsson

17th Seattle Improvised Music Festival