The third instalment of Trevor’s accounts of the seeds and growth of free improvisation in the UK, The London Musicians’ Collective (LMC), spans a 30 + year period and tells the story of one of the most celebrated of all British organisations for the experimentally inclined. With many illustrations of LMC festivals, adverts, fliers, posters, etc, the book follows the twists and turns of this most polymorphic of collectives, interleaving these with contemporaneous societal, cultural and political strands. From its original objective of providing a communication system for London-based musicians from the free improv ‘scene’, the LMC eventually invited in a myriad of creative performers from across Europe, and, eventually, the world. Fasten your seatbelts, its’ a switchback ride across the rugged terrain of the last quarter of the twentieth century’s cultural margins, and beyond.
“An obstinate clot of invention” is a phase coined by Rob Young to describe the London Musicians’ Collective (LMC), who were thus characterised as an impediment to the smooth flowing musical mainstream. Kick-started in 1976 by a group of young musicians, the LMC soon expanded to included artists from Europe and eventually from the world-wide pool of creative performers.
But the story of the LMC is more than that of merely a group of experimental musicians and associated artists. Its narrative flows along various currents of society, culture and politics. Over 32 years, the LMC and its many members were at the centre of a roller coaster ride, and its history is also one of a gritty avant-gardism across four decades of performative activity. From the UK’s hot summers of 1975/1976, to the world financial crisis of 2008, this is an enthralling account of a historically important project.
Trevor Barre is the author of two well received books about UK Free Improvisation - Beyond Jazz: The Golden Age of Free Music in London 1966-1972, and Convergences, Divergences & Affinities: The Second Wave of Free Improvisation in England 1973-1979.