Cafe Oto in east London's Dalston district has pulled together a very imaginative programme of gigs for early-2022 on the avant side. In addition to regular names who play the club month in month out gigs that catch our interest include Adam Fairhall and Johnny Hunter's Winifred Atwell Revisited on 9 January. Pianist Atwell (1914-83) was a huge recording star in the 1950s but now is largely erased from collective memory whose music brought together aspects of the honky tonk piano craze sweeping America with the music hall and pub piano traditions of Britain. 'Black and White Rag' by George Botsford is on Fairhall and Hunter's accompanying release a piece that Atwell recorded for a B side in 1952 and remarkably became a million seller becoming very familiar as the TV snooker programme Pot Black theme tune. Also included is 'Roll Out the Barrel' (also known as 'Beer Barrel Polka') written in the 1920s, Atwell recording the singalong as part of a medley that went into the top 10 of the pop charts in 1956.
After this hipster knees-up of a fling highlights in February include the visit of piano-guitar duo Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson whose recent album Searching For The Disappeared Hour is extraordinary. Halvorson's signature detunery and aching bluesy sense is hard set against the strict avant garde atonal empathy of Sylvie Courvoisier recording in a Mount Vernon, New York studio. These two formidable improvisers match and fuse as oblique lines intertwine and the duo discover new shared spaces to explore and then inhabit. They play Oto on 7 February.
Mary Halvorson, top left, and Sylvie Courvoisier