Tom Skinner | Voices of Bishara Live at “mu”




In January 2023, Tom Skinner and his ensemble performed material from his recently-released album ‘Voices of Bishara’ (Brownswood, IARC & Nonesuch, 2022) at London club “mu”— a venue founded by the curators at Brilliant Corners and named after the seminal Don Cherry live album. Their performance was augmented by three pieces by Abdul Wadud, whose 1977 self-released solo cello album, By Myself, was a primary inspiration for Voices of Bishara.


The woodwinds featured on Skinner’s original Voices of Bishara album — Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia — had already been replaced in Skinner’s live ensemble with Robert Stillman (who also plays with Skinner in The Smile) and Chelsea Carmichael; with the extended rhythm section of Tom Herbert (double bass) and Kareem Dayes (cello) still rounding out the lineup with Skinner on drums.


From the opening moments of Voices of Bishara Live at “mu”, which was recorded on that legendary January 2023 night, it’s clear that this band’s aim is to excavate the deep corners of the repertoire, kicking things off with an extended rendition of Skinner’s own composition “Bishara” that employs the same relationship to rhythmic and tonal freedom found in the Abdul Wadud cello work that inspired it. That aesthetic connection is even more clear by the time the group moves into their 20-minute exploration of Wadud’s “Oasis,” the stunning centerpiece of the set that culminates with a scorching 5+ minute sax solo by Carmichael.



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