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This ensemble, originally put together in 2004 by Jean-Marc Montera - guitarist and eminence gris behind the Montevideo arts centre in Marseille - was formed to interpret graphic scores, starting with the mammoth Treatise by Cornelius Cardew. Completed in 1967, Treatise takes the form of a fat 193pp book of graphic notations. Cardew himself, and most of those after him who have approached this score, have usually concentrated on interpreting just a few pages. Attempts to perform the whole thing are rare, not least because, realistically, it would take about a week. That’s certainly how long we grappled with it over the course of our rehearsals, undertaken in a very agreeable small Corsican town. We approached the score from all sides, and threw every imaginable interpretative strategy at it. And most of the time not spent eating or sleeping was occupied with discussions about the validity of the score as a score, and how to reconcile Cardew’s earlier (interpretative) and later (dismissive) writings about it. By the end of all this, the ensemble was good-naturedly divided between those who wished to take a more intuitive, spontaneous approach and those who thought strict annotation, a conductor and a set of agreed rules would produce more plausible results. We tried it all ways. And gradually, over the next run of concerts came, like most of our predecessors, to the established conclusion: so three of us - Daan Vandewalle, Jean-Marc Montera and myself - chose several pages, annotated them, suggested rules for interpretation and then conducted them, using a stopwatch. This did seem to work. Then we moved to other graphic scores, and even commissioned a handful of young French and German composers to produce new works for the ensemble. My contribution was Life on Earth – a game piece rather than a graphic score, but fun to do because very unpredictable. The band was the same for all the projects: Helene Breschand (acoustic and processed harp), Jean-Marc Montera (guitar, table, objects, processing), Daan Wandewalle (piano), Hans Koch (bassclarinet, soprano), Lelio Gianetto (contrabass), Thomas Lehn (analogue synthesiser) and myself.


Best known as a concert pianist, specialising in contemporary repertoire, Daan is also an accomplished improviser, which is how I first met him – we were both part of Fred Frith’s Graphic Scores Ensemble. We met again in a quartet Fred put together - with clarinettist Claudio Puntin - in Koln, a project that prefigured Fred’s Tense Serenity (the same line-up plus trumpeter Lesli Dalaba). A couple of years down the road, after a trio concert with Daan and Jacques Palinckx, Daan and I were both seconded into an enlarged Palinckx project with the regular group and DJ Donotask. This lasted maybe a year. Then, in 2007, to mark Stockhausen’s lamented passing, I organised a re-working of his Stockhoven/Beethausen piece, which Daan and I performed in London, with Robin Rimbaud on guitar. And of course we were both in Jean-Marc Montera’s European Improvisers Ensemble. We were soloists on a double performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte and - as a trio with Jean-Marc Montera - performed Christan Wolff’s For 1, 2, 3 players. This trio with the addition of contemporary cellist Arne Deforce soon became the Bad Boys Collective – a festival ensemble that first appeared at the Flanders Festival, in Ghent - playing Cage classics, and then as a more generalized ensemble trying to interpret a range of non-standard notational scores, in new way. We even took on Stockhausen’s Kurzwellen, using one the master’s original giant tam-tams – and discovered that the short wave environment has been drastically depleted in the internet age. Today Daan and I are still in The Bad Boys Collective, and also the Ligeti/free-noise ensemble Nimmersatt - along with John Greaves and Jon Rose; though, unaccountably, our jazz standards trio with 7 contrabassists is still waiting for a commission. What’s wrong with everybody?




THE BAD BOYS COLLECTIVE. Out of their Heads./Graphic Process Instruction. on ReRdownloads.com


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