Phil Minton

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Phil Minton
Phil Minton-4.jpg
Phil Minton, August 2007
Background information
Born (1940-11-02) 2 November 1940 (age 81)
Torquay, England
Genres Free improvisation, avant-garde jazz
Instrument(s)Vocals, trumpet
Years active1969–present
Labels Emanem, FMP

Phil Minton (born 2 November 1940) is a British avant-garde jazz/free-improvising vocalist and trumpeter.


Minton is a highly dramatic baritone who tends to specialize in literary texts: he has sung lyrics by William Blake with Mike Westbrook's group, Daniil Kharms and Joseph Brodsky with Simon Nabatov, and extracts from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake with his own ensemble. He sings on a Jimi Hendrix tribute album, belting out the lyrics in over-the-top fashion. Between 1987 and 1993 Minton toured Europe, North America, and Russia with Lindsay Cooper's Oh Moscow ensemble. [1] [2]

He is perhaps best known, however, for his completely free-form work, which involves "extended techniques" that can be as unsettling as they can be mesmerising. His vocals often include the sounds of retching, burping, screaming, and gasping, as well as childlike muttering, whining, crying and humming; he also has an ability to distort his vocal cords to produce two notes at once. As the DJ/poet Kenneth Goldsmith has described it, [3]

Minton's range on this disc (A Doughnut in One Hand) runs from the sounds of a man choking on his own vomit to the sounds that grandpa makes when you finally decide to pull the plug on his respirator. Minton's like a little kid who's contact-miked himself playing yo-yo with his saliva; he's a baby drooling through his cries; he's mastered the art of the multiple burp; he's perfected the craft of goobering all over his finger and then running it over his lips while moaning. I'd hate to see what his mic looked like after he was done with it. ... Minton ... forces us to ponder the musical qualities of noises that we'd rather not deal with and for that fact alone, makes this an important recording.

Minton's most frequent improvising companions are the pianist Veryan Weston and the drummer Roger Turner, but he has worked with most of the improvising musicians in the European scene. Unlike some first-generation free improvisers, he has also become a frequent participant in electroacoustic improvisation.


With the Tony Oxley Celebration Orchestra

With Mike Westbrook

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  1. LeFanu, Nicola (1994). Reclaiming the Muse. Harwood Academic Publishers. p. 71. ISBN   978-3-7186-5528-1 . Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  2. Jones, Andrew (1995). "Lindsay Cooper". Plunderphonics, 'Pataphysics & Pop Mechanics: An Introduction to Musique Actuelle. SAF Publishing. p. 104. ISBN   978-0-946719-15-0 . Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  3. Goldsmith, Kenneth. "Phil Minton: A Doughnut in One Hand". A Popular Guide to Unpopular Music. Archived from the original on 1 June 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2007.