Seattle Improvisation Meeting

Solo Piano

John Tilbury Solo Performance

January 28th, 2006

John Ccncluded his visit to Vancouver with a solo piano performance. He opened with an improvisation that began with sparse low piano notes. He moved from there inside the piano, plucking and rubbing strings. Continuing inside the piano he strikes the strings with mallets, moving around to the front of the piano at one point. He had lots of space and silence in his performance and while on a recording like Barcelona this may seem like a running through techniques after his workshop I had a different perspective on this. The spaces always came from silences in his performance, silences which he was nurturing. Sometimes he’d continue with what he was doing before, but other times he would move on. This performance had a lot of silence and a lot of very quiet playing. He did get louder as in one point where he would strike a bass string with his mallet and then noisily remove the preparations from the strings as the notes decayed. Eventually he focused on the keyboard, at one point playing a segment that sound just like a segment of Triadic Memories. At another point he played short samples from a micro-cassette recording hidden inside the piano. He removed one of the pedals at one point an put it inside the piano. The playing was beautiful and varied but flowed toward the end.

After a break John returned to the stage an played a John Cage piece. I had thought this was going to be from the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano but it most definitely was not. Someone said that they heard it was from a graphic score of cage but I never found out what it was. The score seemed like a handwritten copy that was on different pages as if some of it had to be recopied. It was a nice piece of music with a lot of gaps and silence. The piano was not at all prepared and he was generally playing sequences of notes. After this he performed Samuel Beckett’s Cascando. John had a recording of himself reading the piece (even with some piano at times) and he would play from small pages during prepared gaps. He shuffled through these pages as if he could play them in any order during the gaps. I looked at one of them at the end and there was notes but also a lot of vague instructions such as,” play a drone for some time”. While not too different from the released recording it was nice to hear and see performed – it is a good piece.

John is one of my favorite musicians recording today and this workshop and performance was a real treasure. I had figured that I'd never get to see him perform again due to his boycott of America, but luckily Vancouver is nearby. It was a good time and I really enjoyed the time with John. I learned a lot and I met many good people. I enjoyed being able to talk to Joda from this board on a couple of occasions as well as playing the the group with him. A good time and a wonderful opportunity.



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