Sad to hear of the passing of the free improviser guitarist John Russell who has died after a battle with cancer. Tributes to John have been pouring in online.
Inspired early in his career by Derek Bailey, the guitarist's records include releases for the Incus, Emanem, psi and FMP labels as well as recordings on his own Weekertoft imprint. Born in 1954 he got his first guitar as a child living in Kent and began to play in and around London from 1971 onwards.
He became active as a player at the heart of the distinctly London free improv scene in key venues championing the movement such as The Little Theatre Club, a style whose influence fanned out across Europe.
Later he became a guiding light of the long running Mopomoso and Quaqua residencies. Until very recently he remained an active and jovial presence while promoting online events and contributed regularly to the stimulating Lockdown Zoom discussions hosted by the Vortex director Oliver Weindling.
A creative paterfamilias to a new generation of free improvisers his loss is a massive blow. Tributes online include this from bassist Dominic Lash: ''I couldn't even hint in a tweet at how much I learned from John in so many ways and how supportive he was, again in so many ways.'' Dalston club Cafe Oto paid tribute describing him as ''A remarkable musician with a generous spirit and infectious sense of humour. We'll miss him dearly.'' The London Improvisers Orchestra tweeted: ''Dear John Russell, thanks for the music, for Mopomoso, for inspiration… we'll all miss you so much.''