This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification . (November 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Born||23 February 1950|
|Genres||Progressive rock, experimental, jazz, pop|
|Associated acts||Henry Cow, National Health, The Lodge, Peter Blegvad|
John Greaves (born 23 February 1950)is a British bass guitarist and composer who was a member of Henry Cow and has collaborated with Peter Blegvad. He was also a member of National Health and Soft Heap, and has recorded several solo albums, including Accident (1982), Parrot Fashions (1984), The Caretaker (2001) and Greaves Verlaine (2008).
Greaves was born in Prestatyn and grew up in Wrexham in north-east Wales. At the age of 12, he was given a bass guitar by his father, a Welsh dancehall bandleader, and within six months, he was playing in his father's orchestra. He continued playing in the orchestra for four years, during which time its varied musical styles gave Greaves valuable musician and arranger skills. He was educated at Grove Park Grammar School in Wrexham from 1961 to 1968.
In 1968, Greaves entered Pembroke College, Cambridge to study English, and at Cambridge he met members of the burgeoning English avant-rock group Henry Cow in 1969. The band had been established the previous year by fellow Cambridge students Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson and had undergone numerous personnel changes up to that point. They were looking for a bassist and after several months of persuading, Greaves joined the band in October 1969. After juggling his time with the band and his studies, Greaves completed his Master of Arts degree in 1971. By the end of 1971, Henry Cow settled into a permanent core of Frith, Hodgkinson, Greaves and Chris Cutler. Greaves remained with the band until March 1976, toured Europe extensively with them (with his wife Sarah doing the sound-mix at many of their concerts), and appeared on five of their albums (including two with Slapp Happy). Greaves also contributed several compositions to the band's repertoire, including "Half Asleep; Half Awake", recorded on their second album, Unrest (1974). In November 1973, Greaves (and other members of Henry Cow) participated in a live-in-the-studio performance of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells for the BBC.
Greaves left Henry Cow to work on a project, Kew. Rhone. with Slapp Happy's Peter Blegvad in New York City. Greaves had met and worked with Blegvad during the brief merger of Henry Cow and Slapp Happy between November 1974 and April 1975, their first collaboration, "Bad Alchemy", appearing on the two bands' joint album Desperate Straights. Kew. Rhone. was a song cycle with all the music composed by Greaves and the lyrics written by Blegvad. In addition to bass guitar, Greaves also played keyboards and sang. The album was released in 1977 and credited to Greaves, Blegvad and Lisa Herman, the lead vocalist. It was well received by critics: AllMusic described it as "An unfortunately neglected masterpiece of '70s progressive rock ...";and Robert Wyatt reportedly liked it so much he bought two copies "just in case the first got worn out!"
After Kew. Rhone. Greaves returned to England to work in theatre as a composer, arranger and actor. In early 1978 he joined National Health and remained with them until the band split up in 1980. He toured with the band, appearing on the album Of Queues and Cures , for which he wrote the instrumental tour-de-force "Squarer for Maud", the later reunion effort DS Al Coda (1982) and the archive release Play Time. During this time (1979–88) he also performed with a free-improvising group, Soft Heap with Elton Dean from Soft Machine, Pip Pyle from National Health, and maverick guitarist Mark Hewins.
In the early 1980s Greaves began a series of solo projects and collaborations. Having secured a deal with independent French-American label Europa Records, he recorded his first solo album, Accident in Paris in 1981–82. He moved to France permanently in 1984, and formed a touring band with François Ovide (guitar and trombone), Denis van Hecke from Aksak Maboul (cello), Mireille Bauer (formerly of Gong) (stand-up drums and percussion) and Blegvad's brother, Kristoffer Blegvad (backing vocals). This line-up also featured on Greaves's second solo album, Parrot Fashions (1984). During this time he also recorded and/or toured with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and the Michael Nyman Band. He reunited with Peter Blegvad again on The Lodge project (alongside Kristoffer Blegvad, Jakko Jakszyk and Anton Fier) which produced an album, Smell of a Friend in 1987 (but only ever made a couple of attempts at performing live).
For his next album, 1991's La Petite Bouteille de Linge (Little Bottle of Laundry), Greaves retained the services of Ovide on guitar, adding his old mate Pip Pyle on drums and the latter's then-partner, Sophia Domancich on piano. Over the next few years his music took on a more acoustic flavour and Greaves eventually settled on a drum-less line-up comprising Domancich, Ovide (now on acoustic guitar exclusively) and double bass player Paul Rogers. This resulted in the 1995 album Songs, which consisted largely of acoustic arrangements of songs from his previous efforts, going back to Kew.Rhone. Greaves himself only handled lead vocals on one track, "The Green Fuse" (based on a Dylan Thomas poem), leaving the spotlight to Robert Wyatt, opera singer Susan Belling, Kristoffer Blegvad and French variety singer Caroline Loeb. During the 1990s, Greaves also embarked on one-off collaborations with David Cunningham from The Flying Lizards, on 1991's greaves, cunningham album, and Peter Blegvad on 1995's Unearthed. He also played bass in Blegvad's own trio alongside Chris Cutler on drums, which recorded two studio albums.
In the early 2000s Greaves chose to divide his time between two contrasting bands, an electric trio named Roxongs with François Ovide on guitar (later replaced by Patrice Meyer then Jef Morin) and Manu Denizet on drums, heard on 2001's The Caretaker, and an acoustic trio named Jazzsongs, with Sophia Domancich on piano and Vincent Courtois on cello, heard on 2003's The Trouble With Happiness, once again a mixture of old and new songs, but this time with Greaves himself singing all the way through.
Originally intended as a follow-up of sorts to the acclaimed Songs, 2004's Chansons saw Greaves team up with lyricist Christophe Glockner and vocalist Elise Caron for a collection of all-new songs with predominantly acoustic instrumentation, including guest spots by Robert Wyatt and Louis Sclavis.
During the same period, Greaves appeared as featured vocalist on a number of projects. He contributed lyrics and vocals to two songs on saxophonist Julien Lourau's acclaimed Fire & Forget (2005), to much of Sophia Domancich's Snakes & Ladders (2010) sharing the microphone with Himiko Paganotti and Robert Wyatt, and sang all the vocals on Alain Blésing's Songs From The Beginning project, revisiting 1970s progressive rock classics by King Crimson, Soft Machine, Henry Cow and Hatfield and the North among others, Catherine Delaunay's Sois Patient Car Le Loup (2011), the French clarinettist's settings of texts by Malcolm Lowry, and Post Image's In an English Garden (2012), a special project celebrating the jazz-fusion group's 25th anniversary. Having had two of his songs used by the Daniel Yvinec-led edition of the Orchestre National de Jazz's tribute to Robert Wyatt, Greaves fulfilled a lifelong dream by fronting the ONJ at the legendary Theatre du Chatelet in Paris in January 2011, singing several Billie Holiday songs either solo or alongside Sandra Nkaké.
From the mid-2000s, a significant focus for Greaves was a series of projects centered on French poet Paul Verlaine (1844–1896), beginning with 2008's, Greaves Verlaine, his own settings of Verlaine poems with a decidedly un-retro aesthetic conceived in cooperation with French multimedia collective Les Recycleurs de Bruits. In addition to his Roxongs bandmates the album featured regular collaborators Jeanne Added (vocals) and Scott Taylor (accordion, trumpet), as well as appearances by Karen Mantler and Dominique Pifarély. Concerts promoting this release saw Greaves accompanied by line-ups ranging from just Taylor on accordion to a full electric septet. A second volume saw the light of day in 2011 but received very little media attention due to nonexistent promotion. Instead, Greaves embarked on yet another Verlaine project, this time composing to an original libretto by Emmanuel Tugny. "Verlaine, Les Airs" saw Greaves team up with a trio of French vocalists, Elise Caron, Jeanne Added and Thomas de Pourquery. The work was premiered in December 2012 at Le Triton following a residency at the venue, has since been performed at the Orléans Jazz Festival and at Les Sables-d'Olonnes, and a studio album was released in April 2015 on Bruno Letort's Signature label.
In 2018, he released Life Size with guests including Zeena Parkins, Jakko Jakszyk, and Annie Barbazza.
John Greaves presently lives in Paris with artist Laura Buxton and their two daughters, Ailsa Grace and Millie.He also has a son, Ben, from his first marriage.
With Henry Cow
With The Lodge
With National Health
With Pip Pyle and Philippe Marcel Iung
With Peter Blegvad
With Catherine Delaunay
With Sophia Domancich
With Michel Edelin Quintet
With Julien Lourau
With Michael Mantler
With Michael Nyman Band
With Pip Pyle
With Post Image
With Silvain Vanot
With Robert Wyatt
Henry Cow were an English experimental rock group, founded at Cambridge University in 1968 by multi-instrumentalists Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson. Henry Cow's personnel fluctuated over their decade together, but drummer Chris Cutler, bassist John Greaves, and bassoonist/oboist Lindsay Cooper were important long-term members alongside Frith and Hodgkinson.
Dagmar Krause is a German singer, best known for her work with avant-rock groups including Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, and Art Bears. She is also noted for her coverage of songs by Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler. Her unusual singing style makes her voice instantly recognisable and has defined the sound of many of the bands with whom she has worked.
Chris Cutler is an English percussionist, composer, lyricist and music theorist. Best known for his work with English avant-rock group Henry Cow, Cutler was also a member and drummer of other bands, including Art Bears, News from Babel, Pere Ubu and (briefly) Gong/Mothergong. He has collaborated with many musicians and groups, including Fred Frith, Lindsay Cooper, Zeena Parkins, Peter Blegvad, Telectu and The Residents, and has appeared on over 100 recordings. Cutler's career spans over four decades and he still performs actively throughout the world.
Slapp Happy was a German/English avant-pop group, formed in Germany in 1972. Their lineup consisted of Anthony Moore (keyboards), Peter Blegvad (guitar) and Dagmar Krause (vocals). The band members moved to England in 1974 where they merged with Henry Cow, but the merger ended soon afterwards and Slapp Happy split up. Slapp Happy's sound was characterised by Dagmar Krause's unique vocal style. From 1982 there have been brief reunions to create an opera called Camera, record the album Ça Va in 1998, and perform shows around the world.
Peter Blegvad is an American musician, singer-songwriter, writer, and cartoonist. He was a founding member of German/English avant-pop band Slapp Happy, which later merged briefly with Henry Cow, and has released many solo and collaborative albums. He is the son of Lenore and Erik Blegvad, who were respectively, a children's book author and illustrator.
Anthony Moore is a British experimental music composer, performer and producer. He was a founding member of the band Slapp Happy, worked with Henry Cow and has made a number of solo albums, including Flying Doesn't Help (1979) and World Service (1981).
Phillip "Pip" Pyle was an English-born drummer from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, who later resided in France. He is best known for his work in the progressive rock Canterbury scene bands Gong, Hatfield and the North and National Health.
Desperate Straights is a collaborative studio album by British avant-rock groups Slapp Happy and Henry Cow. It was recorded at Virgin Records' Manor Studio and Nova Sound Studios in November 1974, and released in February 1975. It was Slapp Happy's second album for Virgin, and they had invited Henry Cow to record with them.
In Praise of Learning is a studio album by British avant-rock group Henry Cow, recorded at Virgin Records' Manor studios in February and March 1975, and released in May 1975. On this album, Henry Cow had expanded to include members of Slapp Happy, who had merged with the group after the two had collaborated on Desperate Straights in 1974. The merger ended after recording In Praise of Learning when Peter Blegvad and Anthony Moore from Slapp Happy left the group.
Concerts is a live double album by English avant-rock group Henry Cow, recorded at concerts in London, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway between September 1974 and October 1975. Sides one and two of the LP record consist of composed material while sides three and four contain improvised pieces.
Henry Cow Box is a seven-CD limited edition box set by English avant-rock group Henry Cow. It was released in December 2006 by Recommended Records and comprises the six original albums Henry Cow released between 1973 and 1979, including those recorded with Slapp Happy. A bonus 3" CD-single was given to advance subscribers of the box set which contains previously unreleased material taken from live performances in Europe by the Orckestra, a merger of Henry Cow, the Mike Westbrook Brass Band and folk singer Frankie Armstrong in 1977. The two bonus CD Orckestra tracks were later reissued on the 2019 Henry Cow Box Redux: The Complete Henry Cow bonus CD, Ex Box – Collected Fragments 1971–1978.
Karen Mantler is an American jazz pianist, singer, and composer. She is the daughter of Carla Bley and Michael Mantler.
The 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set is a nine-CD plus one-DVD limited edition box set by English avant-rock group Henry Cow, and was released by RēR Megacorp in January 2009. It consists of almost 10 hours of previously unreleased recordings made between 1972 and 1978 from concerts, radio broadcasts, one-off projects, events and the studio. Included are new compositions, over four hours of free improvisation, and live performances of some of Henry Cow's original LP repertoire.
The Lodge were a 1980s British/Welsh/American art rock band based in New York City, but performing mainly in Europe, which briefly united members of Henry Cow, Slapp Happy, Art Bears and Golden Palominos. It was centred primarily around Peter Blegvad and John Greaves, and drew strongly on their previous collaborations and projects.
"Living in the Heart of the Beast" is a 1975 song written by Tim Hodgkinson for the English avant-rock group Henry Cow. It was recorded in 1975 by Henry Cow with Slapp Happy, who had recently merged with Henry Cow after the two groups had recorded a collaborative album, Desperate Straights the previous year. The song was released on In Praise of Learning in May 1975 by Virgin Records."Living in the Heart of the Beast" was the first of two "epic" compositions Hodgkinson wrote for Henry Cow, the second being "Erk Gah" (1976), later known as "Hold to the Zero Burn, Imagine".
Kew. Rhone. is a concept album by British bass guitarist and composer John Greaves, and American singer-songwriter and guitarist Peter Blegvad. It is a song cycle composed by Greaves with lyrics by Blegvad, and was performed by Greaves and Blegvad with vocalist Lisa Herman and others. The album was recorded in Woodstock, New York in October 1976, and was released in the UK in March 1977 by Virgin Records, credited on the front cover to "John Greaves, Peter Blegvad and Lisa Herman", but on the record label as "John Greaves and Peter Blegvad". It was issued in the US in 1978 by Europa Records.
The Last Nightingale is an album by various artists recorded and released in 1984 to raise money for striking coal miners in the 1984–85 UK miners' strike. It features Chris Cutler, Tim Hodgkinson and Lindsay Cooper from the English avant-rock group Henry Cow, singer and musician Robert Wyatt, and poet Adrian Mitchell. The cover artwork was done by British cartoonist and caricaturist Ralph Steadman.
"War" is a 1975 song composed by Anthony Moore with lyrics by Peter Blegvad for the English avant-pop group Slapp Happy. It was recorded in November 1974 by Slapp Happy with Henry Cow for their collaborative album, Desperate Straights, but was only released in May 1975 on their second collaborative album, Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning.
The Henry Cow Box Redux: The Complete Henry Cow is a seventeen-CD plus one-DVD box set by English avant-rock group Henry Cow; it was released by RēR Megacorp in November 2019. The box set comprises the previously released 2006 Henry Cow Box and the 2009 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set, totalling over sixteen hours. A bonus CD: Ex Box – Collected Fragments 1971–1978 was given to advance subscribers of the 2019 Box Redux, and contains newly recovered and previously unreleased recordings, plus the contents of the 2006 box set bonus CD-single: "Unreleased Orckestra Extract". The 2019 Box Redux plus the Ex Box bonus CD contains all the officially released studio and live recordings of Henry Cow.
"Teenbeat" is a 1973 suite of three instrumentals, "Teenbeat Introduction", "Teenbeat" and "Teenbeat Reprise", by the English avant-rock group Henry Cow. The three pieces were composed by Henry Cow, Fred Frith and John Greaves, and Fred Frith respectively. They were recorded in May and June 1973, and released on Henry Cow's debut album, Legend by Virgin Records in September 1973.