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Davey J. Williams (1952, York, Alabama – April 6, 2019) was an American free improvisation and avant-garde music guitarist. In addition to his solo work, he was noted for his membership in Curlew and his collaborations with LaDonna Smith.
York is a city in Sumter County, Alabama, United States. Founded around 1838 after the merging of two communities, Old Anvil and New York Station, the latter a station on a stagecoach line. The rail came through in the 1850s and later, the "New" was dropped from York Station in 1861. With the discovery that another community in Alabama bore that name, the "Station" was dropped and York was formally incorporated on April 6, 1881. At the 2018 census the population was 97, down from 2,854. From 1920-1980, it was the largest town in the county. Since 1990, it has been the second largest city behind the county seat of Livingston.
Free improvisation or free music is improvised music without any rules beyond the logic or inclination of the musician(s) involved. The term can refer to both a technique and as a recognizable genre in its own right.
Avant-garde music is music that is considered to be at the forefront of experimentation or innovation in its field, with the term "avant-garde" implying a critique of existing aesthetic conventions, rejection of the status quo in favor of unique or original elements, and the idea of deliberately challenging or alienating audiences.
Williams began playing guitar when he was 12. He played in rock bands in high school, and studied with blues musician Johnny Shines from the late 1960s until 1971. In the early 1970s Williams played in the University of Alabama B Jazz Ensemble and the Salt & Pepper Soul Band. He also started working with LaDonna Smith around this time, and founded a musical ensemble and recording project called Transmuseq. He toured the U.S. and Europe in 1978. In the early 1980s he worked in a blues band called Trains in Trouble. In 1986 Williams joined Curlew, who released several albums on Cuneiform Records in the 1990s.
Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and the folk music of white Americans of European heritage. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds or fifths flattened in pitch, are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.
John Ned "Johnny" Shines was an American blues singer and guitarist.
The University of Alabama is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It is the flagship of the University of Alabama System. Established in 1820, the University of Alabama (UA) is the oldest and largest of the public universities in Alabama. The university offers programs of study in 13 academic divisions leading to bachelor's, master's, Education Specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly supported law school in the state is at UA. Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, communication and information sciences, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work.
In the 1980s he also worked with Col. Bruce Hampton and OK, Nurse, and in the early 1990s played in a punk rock band called Fuzzy Sons. Williams played in an improvisational three-piece called Say What?, and worked with Jim Staley and Ikue Mori. Williams appeared live at some 1,500 concerts worldwide.
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels and other informal channels.
Ikue Mori, also known as Ikue Ile, is a drummer, electronic musician, composer, and graphic designer.
Williams co-founded The Improviser, a journal of experimental music, in 1981. He also worked as a music critic for the Birmingham News and published freelance criticism elsewhere.
Williams died in Birmingham, Alabama on April 6, 2019, from cancer.
Birmingham is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Alice Anne LeBaron is a United States composer and harpist.
Andrea Centazzo is an Italian-born American composer, percussionist, multimedia artist and record label founder.
Paul "Watty" Watson is an American cornetist, guitarist, trumpet player, singer, composer, and songwriter living in Richmond, Virginia. He is best known for his work with The Orthotonics, FSK, Sparklehorse, and Patrick Phelan. He currently plays cornet, provides backing vocals, and writes for the Brooklyn-based band, And the Wiremen.
Alabama has played a central role in the development of both blues and country music. Appalachian folk music, fiddle music, gospel, spirituals, and polka have had local scenes in parts of Alabama. The Tuskegee Institute's School of Music, especially the Tuskegee Choir, is an internationally renowned institution. There are three major modern orchestras, the Mobile Symphony, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra; the last is the oldest continuously operating professional orchestra in the state, giving its first performance in 1955.
Evan Shaw Parker is a British saxophone player who plays free jazz.
Thomas Henry Corra, better known as Tom Cora, was an American cellist and composer, best known for his improvisational performances in the field of experimental jazz and rock. He recorded with John Zorn, Butch Morris, and The Ex, and was a member of Curlew, Third Person and Skeleton Crew.
Polly Bradfield is an American violinist from the New York City free improvisation scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Her closest musical associates were Eugene Chadbourne and John Zorn. She also played on records by William Parker and Frank Lowe. Her music career ended when she moved to California sometime in the 1980s. Her last appearance on record was on Zorn's The Big Gundown in 1986.
Table of the Elements is an American record label. It concentrates on re-released and specially recorded experimental music, including many avant-garde musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as John Cale, Tony Conrad and La Monte Young, as well as lesser-known artists such as Loren Mazzacane Connors, Derek Bailey, Rhys Chatham, Fushitsusha/Keiji Haino, and Mats Gustafsson.
Theodor Franz Jörgensmann is a jazz and free-improvising Basset clarinet player and composer. He has been a professional musician since 1975.
Death Ambient is an American experimental and ambient music trio comprising Kato Hideki, Ikue Mori, and Fred Frith (guitar). The group was formed by Hideki and Mori in 1995 and recorded three albums: Death Ambient (1995) Synaesthesia (1999), Drunken Forest (2007) with guest Jim Pugliese.
The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame (AJHF) was founded in 1978, and opened a museum on September 18, 1993, with a mission "to foster, encourage, educate, and cultivate a general appreciation of the medium of jazz music as a legitimate, original and distinctive art form indigenous to America. Its mission is also to preserve a continued and sustained program of illuminating the contribution of the State of Alabama through its citizens, environment, demographics and lore, and perpetuating the heritage of jazz music." It is located in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
Mark Nauseef, in Cortland, New York, is a drummer and percussionist who has enjoyed a varied career, ranging from rock music during the 1970s with his time as a member of the Ian Gillan Band and, temporarily, Thin Lizzy, to a wide range of musical styles in more recent times, playing with many notable musicians from all over the world.
Anthony Coleman is an avant-garde jazz pianist. During the 1980s and 1990s he worked with John Zorn on Cobra, Kristallnacht, The Big Gundown, Archery, and Spillane and helped push modern Jewish music into the 21st century.
Tim R. Reed, known by the stage name Reverend Fred Lane, is a Tuscaloosa, Alabama-born singer, songwriter, and visual artist who released two relatively obscure yet critically appreciated albums in the 1970s on Say Day Bew Records, later re-released in the 1980s on the Shimmy Disc label. These albums explored various traditional genres of American music such as jazz, country, and big-band swing, but infused with improvisational experimentations and Dadaist free-associative lyrics.
LaDonna Smith is an American avant garde musician from Alabama (U.S.). She is a violinist, violist, and pianist. Since 1974 she has been performing free improvisational music with musicians such as Davey Williams, Gunther Christmann, Anne Lebaron, Derek Bailey, Eugene Chadbourne, Misha Feigin, Michael Evans, David Sait, Jack Wright, John Russell, Sergey Letov, Toshi Makihara, Andrew Dewar and many other of the world's major improvisers. As a performer, she has toured the USA, Canada, Europe, including Russia and Siberia, China and Japan. Her music is documented on dozens of CD and LP recordings, including the obscure Say Daybew Records - of Fred Lane & the Debonaires. An active organizer, she produced numerous concerts in Alabama and the Southeast, including the Birmingham Improv Festival. She is an educator and serves on the Board of Directors of I.S.I.M., the International Society of Improvised Music. In 1976, LaDonna Smith co-founded TransMuseq Records, in collaboration with Davey Williams. In 1980, the improvisor magazine began as an extension of I.N., the Improvisor's Network, a grass-roots organization that attempted to connect improvising musicians across the USA, founded at that time in New York City. LaDonna is currently editor-in-chief and publisher of the improvisor, which now exists on the web.
Catherine Jauniaux is a Belgian avant-garde singer. She has been described as a "one-woman-orchestra", a "human sampler", and "one of the best kept secrets in the world of improvised music". Her solo album, Fluvial (1983) is regarded as one of her most accomplished works. She was married to the late American experimental cellist and composer Tom Cora.
Tzadik Records is a record label in New York City that specializes in avant-garde and experimental music. The label was established by composer and saxophonist John Zorn in 1995. He is the executive producer of all Tzadik releases. Tzadik is a not-for-profit, cooperative record label.
Wally Shoup is an American jazz alto saxophonist and painter. Based in Seattle, Washington since 1985, Shoup is a mainstay of that city's improvised music scene. Seattle Metropolitan named him one of the 50 most influential musicians in that city's history.
Jill Burton is an American improviser, extended vocalist, dancer, performance artist and energy worker. Noted as one of the great foundation improvisors of America, she is also known for incorporating spiritual healing with improvised performance. Active in the American improv scene since the early 1970s, she has lived and worked all over the country, including a ten-year stint in the 1980s as part of the downtown East Village experimental arts community, and six years in Sitka, Alaska, where she worked with Tlingit storytellers providing musical accompaniment for their healing stories. Burton is unusual for a musician in that her work is ephemeral, in-the-moment, and therefore recordings of her work are rare. She has collaborated with many notable experimental musicians and dancers, including LaDonna Smith, Davey Williams, Jane Scarpantoni, Judy Dunaway, David First, Rain Worthington, Gino Robair, Jack Wright, and Scott Walton.
Roulette Intermedium is a performing arts and new music venue located in Brooklyn. Founded in 1978, it has been located in Tribeca, Soho, and now resides in a renovated theater in downtown Brooklyn. Roulette is a nonprofit organization focusing on fostering experimental dance, new music, and performance.
Jim Denley is one of Australia's foremost improvisers of new music known for his improvisations on wind instruments and electronics. His radio work Collaborations, produced by ABC Radio National radio won the 1989 Prix Italia for radio production. He was a member of the group Machine for Making Sense with Rik Rue, Amanda Stewart, Chris Mann and Stevie Wishart and has performed in Australia, Europe, Japan and the US with artists such as Chris Abrahams, Clare Cooper, Keith Rowe, Joel Stern, Robbie Avenaim, Jon Rose, John Butcher, Otomo Yoshihide, Fred Frith, Phil Niblock, Trey Spruance, Clayton Thomas, Tess de Quincy, Axel Dörner, Adam Sussman, Ami Yoshida, Oren Ambarchi, Tony Buck, Ikue Mori, Sachiko M, Malcolm Goldstein, Michael Sheridanand Annette Krebs.