Steve Beresford

Photographs copyright Barbara Hediger Müller, taken at a performance of the trio of Steve Beresford, Günter Müller, Christian Marclay in Vienna, January 1993. Click on a thumbnail below to see the other photographs:

Audio samples

Two mp3 Steve Beresford audio samples are available on this site.
Born Wellington, Shropshire, 1950; Piano, trumpet, euphonium, voice, low-grade electronics, bass guitar, small instruments, composer, arranger.

Steve Beresford started playing piano at age 7, studied the classical repertoire of the instrument and was encouraged to investigate orchestral music (through the trumpet) at age 15 in preparation for reading music at university. Though playing the Hammond organ in a soul group offering covers of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Motown hits occupied much of his time and most of his enthusiasm, he still was persuaded to study music at York University. On completion of his course, he stayed in York, working in theatre groups and working men's clubs, but also playing improvised music and promoting it, putting on, for example, the duo of Derek Bailey and Han Bennink at the University.

Since moving to London in 1974, Beresford has been involved in hundreds of music projects, working across the full spectrum from free improvisation through jazz-based material to pop, reggae and MOR songs and on to fully scored music for films, dance and even corporate contracts.

On improvisation, he told Bradshaw (1988), 'Being involved in improvised music was the single most important factor in developing my understanding of music. Playing improvised music was a liberating force, a culture where you could ignore conventional rules, build up and formulate your own individual technique.' Though a member of the nicely named and little recorded Three Pullovers Steve Beresford is perhaps best known - for his early activities - as a member of Alterations. This group began in 1977, comprised Beresford, Peter Cusack on guitars, David Toop on flutes and Terry Day, drums, percussion, and lasted for nine years. Discussing the reasons behind the beginnings of Alterations with Bailey (1992), Peter Cusack said '... we seemed to have no problem including anything in Alterations - it could be any instrument, a tape of bird song or quotes from any style of music. There was nothing which was taboo.' The group also became known for including more and more electric instruments in their live performances. At around the start of Alterations, Beresford was a member of one of the earliest versions of Company and he also performed at one of the last London events, in 1994, with The Shaking Ray Levis and Roger Turner.

Some of his other work in improvisation has included an irregular though continuing duo with Han Bennink - for example, a tour of Canada in June/July 1995 (see Downbeat, October 1995; p. 66 for comments on their appearance at the International Jazz Festival in Vancouver); solo piano (at the 1981 Holland Festival and at The Kitchen in NY in 1987); a trio with Michel Doneda and Dennis Palmer in 1990; a tour of the southern US states in 1992 with The Shaking Ray Levis and Catherine Jauniaux and later the same year a tour of England with The Shaking Ray Levis and Roger Turner; appearances at the October Meeting in Amsterdam with Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Michael Vatcher, Ab Baars, and Wolter Wierbos (released on Bimhuis 003 and Bimhuis 004); a duo with John Butcher; a variety of work with John Zorn, including, in 1990, a show of improvisations with Ikue Mori (drum machines), Arto Lindsay (guitar) and Christian Marclay (turntables) and others, and a show of film music and songs, and, in 1994, the recording of Signals for tea.

Beresford has been involved in the conduction ensembles of Butch Morris, appearing on the recording of Conduction 31 (see discography below) and also arranging the Arts Council-sponsored tour of a primarily UK ensemble in November 1997. This large group became the London Improvisers Orchestra, which plays nearly every month and has released several recordings on Emanem. With a fluctuating personel, the group has grown in size so that by the time of the 2010 Freedom of the City festival in London, documented on Lio Leo Leon, it was 38-strong. As an arranger and composer for improvising ensembles Beresford produced the CD Spirits rejoice for the Dedication Orchestra in 1991 and Ixesha in 1994; arranged for John Stevens' 10-piece group for the London Jazz Festival in April 1993 (released on the CD Blue); was commissioned in 1993 by the CIM Festival in Den Haag to write something to introduce modern music to the public in a playful way - this turned out to be the game piece Fish of the week; and in May 1994 was commissioned by the London Musicians' Collective to compose a piece for their festival. For two nights in August 1996, the BIMhuis in Amsterdam held Summer sessions with Steve Beresford and featured Fish of the week, Lol Coxhill's Before my time, the Melody Four, and a duo with Guus Janssen. In early 1997, he played in Den Haag with Piet Noordijk (alto saxophone), Ernst Glerum (bass) and Michael Vatcher (drums) and later in the year appeared at the Empty Bottle Festival in Chicago in duo with Paul Lovens and with Ellery Eskelin and others.

In 2002, a performance of the piece Whistle Concert was given at the CBSO, Birmingham, devised by the artist Hayley Newman in conjunction with the Ikon Gallery and J.Hudson and Co., whistle manufacturers. This 40 minute piece was performed on September 5 by Hayley Newman, Mick Beck, Matt Wand and Steve Beresford. They played whistles, game calls, reed horns and associated instruments. Also in 2002 (September 10), Murri, a club in the East End of London witnessed the world premier of Beresford's performance with microchip toy guitars, later reprised at the Bonnington Centre, Vauxhall as part of a concert with Tania Chen.

In January 2006, he was instrumental in inviting Han Bennink to play a concert at the Red Rose in London and a duo with Beresford in Nottingham. The London concert - a solo set plus a 40-minute guided improvisation by Bennink, Beresford, Gail Brand, Alan Wilkinson, John Edwards, Springheel Jack and J Spaceman - together with an interview by Steve Beresford, was broadcast as a 90-minute programme on BBC Radio 3 on 17 February 2006.

In August 2011, Beresford was the featured pianist in Pianorama, an interactive performance created by Christian Marclay as part of Ron Arad's 'Curtain Call' project. The concert took place inside the 360° screen designed by Arad for the Roundhouse in London. The screen is a curtain made of 5,600 silicon rods, suspended from an 18 metre diameter ring. Pianorama is an audiovisual composition featuring Beresford filmed and remixed by Christian Marclay. The piano keyboard is extended and looped into a large panoramic projection, with keys five metres high, played by Beresford's many giant hands. For this interactive performance Beresford played along with the video on a real piano, adding his two live hands to his multiplied and projected self.

In July 2011 Beresford took part in the Tribute to Ari Up - the singer with The Slits - in Bristol, playing melodica and electronics in a trio with guitarist Viv Albertine and singer Mark Stewart.

In October 2011 Steve Beresford was one of sixteen musicians participating in Just Not Cricket: Three days of British Improvised Music in Berlin, a festival filmed by Antoine Prum for release sometime in 2012/13. He undertook a blindfold test hosted by Gail Brand in November 2011 based around Georg Graewe's music and published in the Random Acoustics Book/DVD grubenklang. reloaded.

In 2012, in June, Steve Beresford performed at The Sage, Gateshead in a celebration of the art of Kurt Schwitters, with Adam Bohman, Roger Turner, Sylvia Hallett and Ute Wassermann. The performance tied in with Helen Petts' film 'Throw Them Up and Let Them Sing'. In August, he curated and played at 'Late at Tate - Contesting ╩Territory' with saxophonist Evan Parker, singer Elaine Mitchener, drummer Mark Sanders ╩and DJ Mark Ainley in a show inspired by Patrick Keiller's Tate Britain show. Ståle Liavik Solberg, Martin Kuchen and Beresford formed a new trio - drums, ╩sopranino ╩sax, and piano ╩- which has performed in London and Scandinavia, including the Hagen Festen in August. Beresford was one of the players at the BBC Prom 47 - a John Cage centenary concert directed by Ilan Volkov. He played Cage's 'Branches' and 'Improvisation 3' in ensembles that included Robyn Schulkowsky, the Bohman Brothers, Angharad and Rhodri Davies and many others and this was followed, in September, by a piece he wrote and presented for 'Jazz on 3' on Radio 3 about John Cage and improvisation. And Steve performed Christian Marclay's 'Every Day' with Marclay, Alan Tomlinson, John Butcher and Mark Sanders at the Ruhrtriennale in September and in October 2012 in the Ether Festival at the South Bank.

Steve Beresford's extensive film and television work has included:

Some of this work, spanning a 14-year period, was released as Cue sheets and Cue sheets II on John Zorn's Tzadik label. Corporate work has included music for: four commercials for the Norwegian 'Vital' insurance company; an advert for Sure deodorant; the music for an Ovaltine Power advert; and a Japanese ad campaign for Victoria tea!

He has been involved in projects with Ogun Records, particularly The Dedication Orchestra, as arranger and in production work, including Bokaye La Vi by Francine Luce. Steve Beresford has also contributed to several sleeve notes, among which are: Ogun CD 005, Corner to corner, Spirits rejoice, Ixesha, Playing (though not used extensively), A new distance, Buben...plus, Two Octobers, Ian Smith's Daybreak (as well as production credits on this), and It Won't Be Called Broken Chair. He got a mention in The Guardian in October 2004, in a piece about novelty singles in the charts: "The Flying Lizards, whose 1979 hit Money surgically removed the soulfulness of the Motown original, with Deborah Strickland's haughty vocals converting the song into a much-cited anticipation of dead-eyed Thatcherite greed. The Flying Lizards involved avant garde luminaries like David Cunnigham, David Toop and Steve Beresford, smuggled one time onto TOTP." And there was a (presumably contemporary) photo, too (David Stubbs, Preview: music. The Guardian, The Guide, October 30–November 5, p.23).

Steve Beresford has been visiting lecturer at Oslo Art Academy and in Reykjavik, has taught an audio production course at Southampton Institute, and he teaches piano for one day a week at a school in North London. He teaches arranging, innovation and new music, and film music at the University of Westminster.

Further information

Bailey, Derek (1992), Improvisation, its nature and practice in music. The British Library, 0 7123 0506 8; pp. 125-127 includes excerpts from an interview with Peter Cusack on Alterations.

Bradshaw, Paul (1988), The happy heretic. Straight no chaser, (Summer), pp. 28-30.

Breakwell, Ian & Hammond, Paul [editors] (1994), Brought to book. Penguin, 0 14 017080 4. pp. 106-107, 176-177.

Chacón, Chema (2003), Steve Beresford. Oro Molido, no. 9, pp.70-77. Interview and CD reviews and a review of SB conducting the Orquesta FOCO in July 2003; in Spanish.

Corbett, John (1994). Steve Beresford: M.O.R and more, in Extended play: sounding off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein. Duke University Press, 0 8223 1473 8. pp. 192-200.

Masotti, Roberto (1994), You tourned the tables on me. Auditorium, p. 23, 132.

Morgan, Jon (1999), Signals for tea: Steve Beresford. Coda, no. 286, (July/August), pp. 16-19. The full text of this interview can be read on this site.
Panta, no. 14, (1996), pp. 59-62. ISBN 88-452-2714-6. In Italian.

NME, September 25, 1982, p. 13.

Vaughen, Laurie Perry, Steve Beresford's sharp dressed music. The full text of an interview available at the Shakin Ray Levis web site.

e-mail: s.beresford@westminster.ac.uk

Recordings

1970/72, Journey into space, York University (no label) [Double album]. Trevor Wishart.
1970/72, Journey into space, Paradigm Discs PD18. Trevor Wishart. CD re-issue of York University LPs.
1973, Plays the popular classics, Transatlantic TRA 275. The Portsmouth Sinfonia.
1974, Hallelujah, Transatlantic TRA 285. The Portsmouth Sinfonia.
1974/1975, Teatime, Incus 15.
1974/1975, Teatime, Emanem 5009. Re-issue of Incus 15.
1974/1975, Not necessarily English music, EMF CD 036. Two solo tracks on this compilation CD.
1977, Company 6, Incus 29.
1977, Company 7, Incus 30.
1977, Fictions, Incus 38. Company.
1975, Three pullovers, Quartz Mirliton Cassette 12.
1975/1978, Three & four pullovers, Emanem 4038.
1977/1979/1980, The bath of surprise, Piano Records 003/Amoebic CD AMO-VA-03.
1978, Alterations, Bead 9.
1978 & 80, London Musicians' Collective ...the first 25 years, LMC Rec8.2CD/Res9.1CD. Duos with Roger Turner & Michael Parsons and an Alterations track on this compilation CD (and see below, 2000).
1979, The English Channel, Parachute. Eugene Chadbourne.
1979, 20 classic rock classics, Philips 9109231. The Portsmouth Sinfonia.
1979, My body, Canal 01. General Strike.
1979, White string's attached, Bead 16. Duo with Nigel Coombes.
1979, Whirled music, Quartz 009. With Eastley, Burwell, Toop.
1979-81, Voila enough!, Atavistic/Unheard Music Series ALP239. Alterations.
1980, The 49 Americans, Choo Choo Train CHUG 1. The 49 Americans.
1980, Up your sleeve, !Quartz 006. Alterations
1980, Too young to be ideal, Choo Choo Train CHUG 2. The 49 Americans.
1980, Double indemnity, Y Records 9. Duo with Honsinger.
1980, Double indemnity/Imitation of life, Atavistic/Unheard Music Series ALP224. CD version of Y Records releases (+/-). With Honsinger, etc.
1981, Launderette/Private armies, Virgin 10158. Vivien Goldman.
1981, The Peel sessions, BBC SFRSCD052. The Slits; SB on 3 tunes playing keyboards etc. Recorded 12 December 1981.
1980/1981, In the beginning, Freud CD 057. The Slits.
1980/81/83, Alterations live, Intuitive Records IRCD 001.
1981, Return of the giant slits, CBS 85269. The Slits.
1981, Imitation of life, Y Records 13. With Toop, Honsinger, Kondo.
1981, I never knew, Choo Choo Train CHUG 3. The Avocados.
1981, We know nonsense, Choo Choo Train CHUG 4. The 49 Americans.
1981, The Promenaders, Y Records Y31.
1981, Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Chapter 3, Daddy Kool DKLP 15/Pressure Sounds CD007. Prince Far-I and the Arabs.
1982, The forty nine Americans, Choo Choo Train CHUG 1.
1982, La Paloma, Chabada OH5. The Melody Four. Re-issued on La Paloma compilation Trikont US-0220.
1983, Couscous, nato 157. Lol Coxhill.
1983, Privilege, Rough Trade 59. Ivor Cutler and Linda Hirst.
1983, Watch yourself, Tommy Boy BR 5003. Akabu.
1983, Sept tableaux phoniques Erik Satie, nato 59/nato 53005.2. Steve Beresford on one track.
1984, My favourite animals, nato 280. Alterations.
1984, Love plays such funny games, Chabada OH6. The Melody Four.
1984, Le chat se retourne, nato 257. Tony Coe.
1984, Touch travel package, Touch T3.
1985, Gestalt et jive, Moers Music MM 2038. Alfred Harth.
1985, Danger in paradise, Touch TO2. General Strike.
1985, Myths 2-system of flux and energies, Sub-Rosa SUB 33002-3. General Strike on one track.
1985, Eleven songs for Doris Day, Chabada OH7 (10")/Chabada 53034 (CD).
1985, Si Señor!, Chabada OH11 (10"). The Melody Four.
1985, We are Frank Chickens, Kaz LP 2. Frank Chickens.
1985, The inimitable, nato DK 018 53039.2. Lol Coxhill.
1985, Dancing the line, nato 565.
1986, Kazuko Hohki chante Brigitte Bardot, nato 985829/Nato HS10049.
1986, Tell Mandela, Tout Ensemble 12 Lute 5. Mwana Musa.
1986, Deadly weapons, nato 950 (LP and CD)/53021/HS10051. With Toop, Zorn, Tonie Marshall.
1986, TV? Mai oui!, Chabada DK 018 53008.2. The Melody Four.
1986, Sleepwalking, Streetsounds. Family Quest.
1987, Joyeux Noël, nato 1382. Compilation featuring various musicians.
1987, Avril Brisé, cinenato ZOG1/nato 112035.
1987, Directly to pyjamas, nato 1330 (LP)/777 727 (CD). Duo with Han Bennink.
1987, Aveklei uptowns Hawaiians, Chabada OH 18. Mike Cooper/Cyril Lefebvre.
1987, More tales from the city, Flim Flam Harp LP1. The Band of Holy Joy.
1985, Get Chickenized, Flying Stir 1. Frank Chickens.
1988, Shopping for melodies vol. 1, Chabada OH19 (10"). The Melody Four.
1988, Shopping for melodies vol. 2, Chabada OH21 (10"). The Melody Four.
1988, Shopping for melodies, Chabada 777 761 (CD). The Melody Four.
1988, Welcome, Sidewinder Musa LP88.
1988, Not fade away, Sidewinder Musa 88 12/1. X-Boys.
1988, Bandes original du journal de Spirou, nato 1715/1774. Compilation album.
1988, L'extraordinaire jardin de Charles Trenet, Chabada OH23/Nato HS10055.
1988/1989, Love in rainy days, Chabada 600-310. Kazuko Hohki.
1988-1995, Cue sheets, Tzadik 7501.
1989, Pentimento, cinenato ZOG3.
1989, Hulabaluh, Hipshot Records HIP 008. Includes tracks by the Uptown Hawaiians.
1990/1999, Spectral soprano, Emanem 4204. One Melody Four track + track with London Improvisers Orchestra on Lol Coxhill compilation CD.
1991, I will cure you, Sigh 1-11/Island IMCD 242. Vic Reeves.
1991, The bear, Bimhuis 003. Quartet of Evan Parker, Steve Beresford, Arjen Gorter, Han Bennink.
1991, October meeting 1991: anatomy of a meeting, Bimhuis 004. Trio with George Lewis, Michael Vatcher; duo with Guus Janssen.
1992, Vol pour Sidney (aller), nato 53001. Two tracks on Sidney Bechet compilation album.
1992, The same elephant, These 7 CD. Duo with John Butcher on a compilation CD.
1992, Boss witch, SRR CD 002. Shaking Ray Levis.
1993, AngelicA 93, CAICAI 004. Solo plus other combinations.
1993, Conduction 31, New World Records 80484. Lawrence D. 'Butch' Morris.
1993, Conduction 31, New World Records 80485. Lawrence D. 'Butch' Morris.
1993, Fish of the week, Scatter 05:CD.
1994, Signals for tea, Avant AVAN 039.
1994, Short in the U.K., Incus CD 27. With Roger Turner and Shaking Ray Levis.
1995, AngelicA 1995, A1 007. Trio with Jon Raskin and Otomo Yoshihide and with Lol Coxhill's Before my time.
1995, Les films de ma ville, nato 112033. The Melody Four plus various artists.
1995, Burn baby burn, JRVCD 101. The Otherside.
1995, Museum of towing & recovery, Hot Air EP4YOBS 10" vinyl LP. Duo with Otomo Yoshihide
1997, Couleur Café, Tzadik TZ7116. On Great Jewish Music: Serge Gainsbourg.
1997, Two to tangle, Emanem 4017. Duo with Nigel Coombes.
1997-2000, Cue sheets II, Tzadik 7513.
1998, Festival Beyond Innocence: 3 1998-1999, Innocent Records FBI 104. Two solos + track with Altered States on compilation CD.
1999, Foxes fox, Emanem 4035. Parker/Beresford/Edwards/Moholo.
1999, Proceedings, Emanem 4201. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2000, B + B (in Edam), ICP 037. Beresford/Bennink duo.
2000, Agro jazz, flo records flo013. One track on Panicstepper CD.
2000, London Musicians' Collective ...the first 25 years, LMC Rec8.2CD/Res9.1CD. Trio with Anna Homler & Richard Sanderson on this compilation CD (and see above, 1978/80).
2000, The hearing continues..., Emanem 4203. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2000, In praise of the kitten, kabuki kore kkcd7. One track on compilation CD.
2000/2003, I shall become a bat, QBICO 18. Duos with John Butcher and Richard Sanderson on alternate sides of LP.
2001, Largely live in Hartlepool and Manchester, 30 Hertz CD 15. Jah Wobble & Deep Space.
2001, 3 pianos, Emanem 4064. Beresford/Thomas/Weston.
2001, Freedom of the city 2001: large groups, Emanem 4206. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2001, Freedom of the city 2001: small groups, Emanem 4205.
2001, The All Angels concerts, Emanem 4209. Beresford/Turner duo on compilation 2-CD.
2001, Out to launch, Emanem 4086. Lol Coxhill and the Unlaunched Orchestra.
1997-2002, Steve Beresford, kabuki kore kkcd11. Solo electronics.
2002, Freedom of the city 2002, Emanem 4090. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2002, Trap Street, Emanem 4092. Tomlinson/Beresford/Turner.
2002/2003, Ointment, Rossbin RS018. Chen/Beresford.
2003, Bollywood Queen soundtrack, MCS Screen 003; includes musicians Najma Akhtar, John Edwards, Aref Durvesh, Eddie Saunders, etc. DVD of film available as SRD 94772.
2003, Live at the Friends Meeting House, Planet Mu Records ZIQ082CD. Urban Myth.
?, *(there is no hidden meaning), kabuki kore kkcd50. One track on compilation CD.
2003/2004, Responses, reproduction & reality: freedom of the city 2003-4, Emanem 4110. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2003/2007, Improvisations for George Riste, psi 08.06. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2004, Suit, DVD by Dave Stephens with music by Steve Beresford.
2004, Conroy Maddox, Itza CD002. Featuring the voice of surrealist Maddox, with music by Addie Brik, SB, Richard Thomas and others.
2004, Der Kastanienball: the fall of Lucrezia Borgia, Winter & Winter 910 107-2.
2004, Naan tso, psi 05.07. Foxes fox.
2005, Freedom of the city 2005, Emanem 4216. In trio Beresford/Williamson/Turner + London Improvisers Orchestra.
2005, Sounds from the moors, Music Creator Project MCPCD001.
2006, Analekta, Emanem 4138. John Russell.
2007, Live at The Vortex, psi 12.01. Foxes fox with Kenny Wheeler.
2007, Positions & descriptions, Clean Feed CF230CD. SFE.
2008, Check for monsters, Emanem 5002. Lee/Evans/Beresford.
2010, Lio Leo Leon, psi 11.04. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2010, Snodland, nato 4190. Steve Beresford/Matt Wilson.
2010, Ink room, Creative sources CS 193. Steve Beresford/Stephen Flinn/Dave Tucker.
2011, HMS concert, Kukuruku Recordings. London Improvisers Orchestra.
2011, Just not cricket! Three days of British improvised music in Berlin, NI-VU-NI-CONNU nvnc-lp001/004. Tom Arthurs/Steve Beresford/Tony Bevan/Matthew Bourne/Gail Brand/Lol Coxhill/Rhodri Davies/John Edwards/Shabaka Hutchings/Dominic Lash/Phil Minton/Eddie Prévost/Orphy Robinson/Mark Sanders/Alex Ward/Trevor Watts.
2011, Overground to the Vortex, Not Two MW 904. François Carrier/Michel Lambert/John Edwards/Steve Beresford.
various, Le Chronatoscaphe, nato 574. Commemorative book/3CD package representing 25 years of nato and chabada.

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