Photograph copyright Jo Fell.
After a short period in Manchester, deciding that the possibilit of a career in librarianship was not for him, Alan Wilkinson moved to Leeds in 1975 to undertake a Fine Arts degree, concentrating on painting. Shortly after completing his degree he began playing the alto saxophone and joined the group Crow with Mathew Coe (aka Xero Slingsby), Richard Ward, and long-time associate, drummer Paul Hession. Following a short tour of Belgium and Holland, he decided to quit painting and concentrate on the saxophone. In 1979 he formed the group Art, Bart & Fargo with Hession and tenor sax player Pete Malham,experimenting with playing a wide range of other instruments, mainly percussion, and mixing composition with pure improvisation. After playing in England, Belgium and Germany the trio disbanded after three years.
In 1982 Wilkinson attended the Improvised Music Summer School in South Wales and this introduced him to musicians such as Peter Brötzmann, Barry Guy, Fred Van Hove, Keith Tippett, Phil Wachsmann and Radu Malfatti among others. This led directly to gigs on the London improvised music scene, a trio with Paul Hession and Japanese pianist Akemi Kuniyoshi, and many gigs with drummer Steve Hubback in a wide variety of combinations. In 1983, in duo with Hession, he appeared at the 10th annual Free Music festival in Antwerp, Belgium and at the Holland Art Initiative in Eindhoven. The same year he was among the original organisers of the Termite Club in Leeds, specialising in improvised and experimental music and performing arts. A trio with Steve Noble and Tony Moore existed from 1985 to 1988, having toured in Britain, Belgium, Holland and Denmark and in 1985 Wilkinson also joined the large improvising ensemble The Ubiquity Orchestra. From 1987 to 1989 Wilkinson's activities included a widely toured quartet with Willi Kellers, Christoph Winckel and Alex Maguire (through to 1992); a tour of England and Wales with Phil Durrant, Thebe Lipere, Will Evans, Louis Moholo and Keith Tippett; gigs with Mick Beck's large group Feet Packets; and a tour of England with Alex Maguire's nine-piece Cat o'Nine Tails.
Alan Wilkinson has been invited to play in Derek Bailey's Company on a number of occasions, firstly in 1987 on a tour of Switzerland and Italy with Steve Noble, Barre Phillips and Ernst Reijseger; again in 1988 at the ICA in London in a Company Week which included Dennis Palmer, LaDonna Smith, Gregg Bendian and Milo Fine; and in 1993 he helped organise and participated in Company Week at the Place Theatre with, among others, Don Byron, Robyn Schulkowski, Ikue Mori and Phil Minton. Other associations have included a stint with the John Law Quartet; playing with the London group Ya Basta; Real Time, with artist Gina Southgate and drummer Mark Sanders joined occasionally by Maggie Nicols or Susanna Ferrar. He has also played solo gigs since 1991.
Alan Wilkinson is probably best known as a member of the take no prisoners Hession/ Wilkinson/Fell trio formed with the addition of Simon Fell to the longstanding duo in 1989. Though perhaps correctly typified as a high energy power trio - starting loud and then opening the throttles - and the recorded evidence goes some way to support this proposition, there are not only areas of respite in the playing but also an interest in fitting the group into new situations. For example, in 1996 a short UK tour took place in June with US guitarist Joe Morris (with a CD forthcoming on Incus); and in November the trio appeared in an incendiary, ear-numbing, exhausting and hugely enjoyable interchange with Derek Bailey at the annual Termite Festival in Leeds: a gig that the organiser's attempted unsuccessfully and on several occasions to end prematurely (this being Sunday night in a pub in the UK), finally resorting to flashing the room lights and talking loudly; Derek Bailey, having been sat head down in concentration for the uninterrupted 40 minutes of the second piece then looking up blinking, seemingly surprised at the near panic. The following night, Wilkinson and Fell undertook a four date tour of the UK with a quartet completed by Peter Brötzmann and Willi Kellers, reprising a similar tour by the same musicians in 1994.
|Distributors and Retail outlets||Full text articles/interviews||Links to related sites|
|Non-European improvisors||Organisations||Scope of this site|
|Upcoming concerts||Video clips||What's new|