By: Sammy Stein
The warm ambiance of Café Oto proved the perfect setting for Unpredictable – a fund raising gig for the film of the same name being made by Blanca Regina about drummer Terry Day, his music and art. Terry has had a long career and played with some of the most important names in jazz history. It was decided to document his story in the film, which is an ongoing project.
Over the course of an evening which started at around 8.30 and went on late into the evening 14 or so musicians got together in varying combinations for 10-15 minute slots of free improvisation. What resulted was a mix of improvised music, some of which was of the highest calibre. The musicians include David Toop (flutes, electronics), Terry Day (percussion, drums and pipes), John Butcher (saxes),George Khan (saxes), Steve Beresford (piano and electronics), Charlie Hart (bass),Pat Thomas (piano), Hannah Marshall (cello), Phil Minton (voice, Davey Payne (saxes), Max Eastley (self- made instruments), Satoko Fukeda (violin) , Mike Figgis (trumpet) and Okkyung Lee (cello). The evening began with a set from David Toop, Terry Day and John Butcher, followed by Steve Beresford and Okkyung Lee; then Terry Day, Charlie Hart and Pat Thomas. This was followed by Hannah Marshal, Phil Minton and Satoko Fukeda; Max Eastley, Steve Beresford and David Toop.
With a break for a short introduction of the film ( the only bit complete as of yet) there were more sets from Terry Day, Phil Minton, Pat Thomas, Satoko Fukuda and Mike Figgis; Max Eastley, Okkyung Lee and John Butcher; Hannah Marshall and Davey Payne; George Khan, Mike Figgis, Charlie Hart and Terry day. During all the music, artist Gina Southgate painted live pictures. This was the set programme but also included were two impromptu pieces – one the setting of music to some of Terry’s Lyrics – a jolly little number titled ‘Troubled Times’ and the gathering of all the musicians on stage for an impromptu free form mass ensemble.
To say the evening was varied would be an understatement and each combination brought with it a different take, mood and atmosphere. Particularly engaging for the audience was the set of Max Eastly, Okkyung Lee and John Butcher and the beautiful combination of the ‘cello of Hannah Davis and the tenor sax of Davey Payne but there were so many different styles, approaches and great instrumentalists on stage.
The evening was a success with a great atmosphere of support for Terry and the audience brimmed with family, friends and very interested parties who had watched Terry throughout his career and also some new comers, for whom this, as an introduction to improvised music , was about as good as it gets.
Blanca introduced many of the sets and proved a lively and enthusiastic presenter, ably assisted by Steve Beresford from time to time. A brief chat with Terry revealed he really enjoyed the evening. Watching him as he works his drums and percussion, you forget he has been around for at least the past 40 years, that he knows a drum kit (and almost everything else that makes a noise including balloons) inside out, back to front and quite possibly round the corner. He approaches each set like it is his first and last – engaging, animated and completely mesmerising for the audience. It is a tribute to the man that so many friends turned out to play in order to support him and that Café Oto was packed almost to the rafters and stayed to chat and catch up until late. This was, quite simply a great evening.