Influential free improviser guitarist John Russell has died

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 …

Published: 20 Jan 2021. Updated: 10 months.

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.''

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Anti- think way outside the box and imaginatively sign pianist Alfa Mist

Anti- is one of my favourite labels mainly for one compelling reason: the marvellous Solomon Burke record Don't GIve Up On Me. Whatever style they turn to, moving much more up to the minute in terms of calendar years, Anti- show connoisseur chops …

Published: 19 Jan 2021. Updated: 10 months.

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Anti- is one of my favourite labels mainly for one compelling reason: the marvellous Solomon Burke record Don't GIve Up On Me. Whatever style they turn to, moving much more up to the minute in terms of calendar years, Anti- show connoisseur chops in their A&Ring and general finessing of their releases. The records importantly as audio sound mighty fine, even if the musical style in question isn't much up my straße. The whole label approach tends to encourage new thinking and wards off gnawing complacency. Anti- don't really do jazz, however. Pianist/keyboardist Alfa Mist is not a purist but derives from a jazz sensibility, hyphenated to accommodate contemporary London currents, especially with last year's excellent On My Ones displayed an exceptional sound, drawing on jazz and more. I guess he won't be marketed as a priority to jazz heads but will be of interest to many.

The pianist was also on the compilation Blue Note: Re imagined currently no.1 in the Official UK specialist Jazz & Blues chart and will be on Anti- with Bring Backs because he has newly signed with the American label. 'Run Outs' from the 23 April release is streaming. Album personnel with Alfa Mist include Jamie Leeming on guitar, Kaya Thomas-Dyke on bass guitar and vocals, Jamie Houghton drums, Johnny Woodham trumpet and singer/rapper Lex Amor. SG