AMM

Photograph taken 26 June 1997; copyright Vas Vasovic.

John Tilbury Eddie Prévost Keith Rowe.

In addition some 1999 photographs of Eddie Prévost can be seen at: http://www.geocities.com/soho/coffeehouse/6610

AMM was founded in London in 1965 by Gare, Prévost and Rowe. In 1966 they were joined by Lawrence Sheaff and Cornelius Cardew. Since then Christopher Hobbs, Christian Wolff, Rohan de Saram and Ian Mitchell have also participated in making AMM music.

AMM 1965/1994 - a brief and mostly chronological historical summary

by Eddie Prévost.

Prior to the formulation of the name AMM and the development of the particular features that subsequently marked out AMM's musical aesthetic, there were various ensembles in which the first stirrings towards AMMmusic could be discerned.

In 1965 tenor saxophonist Lou Gare and guitarist Keith Rowe were members of the Mike Westbrook Band. Lou Gare was also a member of a hard bop quintet, which featured drummer Eddie Prévost. Various ad hoc ensembles in London at that time experimented with the then new free jazz. Those which featured Gare, Rowe and Prévost also included Mike Westbrook, John Surman, Henry Lowther, Malcolm Hawley and Lawrence Sheaff. Out of these ad hoc formulations evolved the trio of Gare, Rowe and Prˇvost, an ensemble which developed and performed free music, occasionally in public. Shortly after, Gare and Rowe left the Westbrook band to concentrate on this new musical venture. Lawrence Sheaff, the bassist with Westbrook, later followed, to join what was to become AMM. These investigations occurred concurrent with but to a (surprisingly) large extent unaware of the emerging work of the group of musicians we now associate with the earliest manifestations of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble - especially John Stevens, Trevor Watts, Paul Rutherford, Derek Bailey and Evan Parker. But although both approaches to the new freedoms in music developed independently there was some meeting. SME generously invited AMM to perform from time to time at the Little Theatre Club, Monmouth Street, in London's West End.

In 1966, as part of a bid to broaden the pool of musicians to perform his graphic work Treatise, Cornelius Cardew was introduced to AMM. He later joined the ensemble and began to take part in their regular sessions at the Royal College of Art. The ensemble had a settled line-up of Cardew, Rowe, Gare, Sheaff and Prˇvost. Several months after the release of the first album, AMMMusic, Lawrence Sheaff left the ensemble and ceased making music.

In 1968 American composer Christian Wolff joined the ensemble for the duration of his sabbatical year in Britain. Also during this time Christopher Hobbs, a percussionist and composition student of Cardew's, at the Royal Academy of Music, regularly performed with AMM. John Tilbury occasionally participated when Cardew was not present.

From the early 1970s until the fracture of AMM in 1972 the ensemble remained the quartet: Cardew, Gare, Prévost, Rowe. Subsequently, until about 1975, Lou Gare and Eddie Prévost joined with Evan Parker and Paul Lytton to co-promote and perform (mostly in respective duo forms and with guests) at a long-standing weekly venue in East Action, London. This ultimately led to Gare's and Prévost's inclusion in the London Musicians' Co-operative. Cardew and Rowe meanwhile ceased to be involved with improvisation.

Sometime in 1976 first moves in rapprochement occurred in which private sessions with Cardew, Rowe, Gare and Prévost occurred. These proved not fruitful for Gare, who left and moved to Exeter in Devon. Subsequently Cardew ceased to have time or inclination to continue with the project. This left Rowe and Prévost, who worked as a duo for a year or so, until around 1980, when they invited John Tilbury to join AMM.

This trio remained the mainstay of the ensemble to 2004. Cellist Rohan de Saram performed with the AMM as did (to a lesser extent) the clarinettist Ian Mitchell. Lou Gare also returned for a while during 1989/90. On rare occasions Evan Parker performed with various AMM formulations. He and Christian Wolff are the two musicians outside of the immediate circle of AMM with whom an indefinable rapport is felt - and a confidence that the AMM aesthetic would be pursued and respected.

From 2005 AMM have been functioning primarily as a duo of John Tilbury and Eddie Prévost but with added guest musicians as the situation, opportunity and availability dictated.

e-mail: e.prevost@matchless.plus.com

Further information

Young, Rob (1995). Meta machine music. The Wire, no. 132, (February), pp. 22-27.

Recordings

1966, Not necessarily "English music", Electronic Music Foundation EMF CD 036. One track on compilation CD.
1966, AMMMusic, ReR Megacorp/Matchless.
1967, Afflicted Man's Musica Box, United Dairies UD12 (UK). One track on a compilation featuring Cardew/Gare/Prévost/Rowe/Sheaff.
1968, Live Electronic Music Improvised, Mainstream MS 5002 (USA). Cardew/Gare/Hobbs/Prévost/Rowe; record shared with MeV.
1968, The Crypt , Matchless MRCD05.
1969, Laminal , Matchless MRCD31.1. One CD of 3CD set recorded in Denmark.
1972, AMM at the Roundhouse, Incus EP1. Gare/Prévost.
1974, To hear and back again, Matchless MRCD03.
1979, It had been an ordinary enough day in Pueblo, Colorado, ECM/JAPO 60031.
1982, Laminal , Matchless MRCD31.2. One CD of 3CD set recorded in London.
1982, Generative themes, Matchless MRCD06.
1984, Combine + Laminates + Treatise '84, Matchless MRCD26.
1987, The inexhaustible document, Matchless MRCD13.
1988, IRMA - an opera by Tom Phillips, Matchless MR16.
1990, The nameless uncarved block, Matchless MRCD20.
1992, Newfoundland, Matchless MRCD23.
1993, Vandoevre, Virgin Records ABMT4. One track on Ambient isolationism, a double CD compilation.
1994, Live in Allentown USA, Matchless MRCD30.
1994, Laminal , Matchless MRCD31.3. One CD of 3CD set recorded in New York.
1995, From a strange place, PSFD-80.
1996, Before driving to the chapel we took coffee with Rick and Jennifer Reed, Matchless MRCD35.
1998, For Ute, Fat Cat Records 7/8.
2000, Tunes without measure or end, Matchless MRCD44.
2001, Fine, Matchless MRCD46.
2004, Apogee, Matchless MRCD61. MEV/AMM.
2005, Norwich, Matchless MRCD64.
2006, That mysterious forest below London Bridge, Matchless MRCD70. One AMM on this compilation CD.
2008, Trinity, Matchless MRCD71. AMM/John Butcher.
2009, Sounding music, Matchless MRCD77.
2010, Uncovered correspondence, Matchless MRCD78.


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