Keith Tippett

Photograph copyright Peter Symes.

Born Bristol, 25 August 1947; piano, composer, arranger, educator.

Keith Tippett left Bristol in 1967 and came to prominence in London in the late 1960s persuing a wide range of projects with his Sextet, with his 50-piece ensemble Centipede and in other combinations.

From around this time, when he first saw them at Ronnie Scott's, Tippett has been inspired by and closely associated with the Blue Notes - Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo - after they had eventually settled in London following their South African exile. The cross-fertilization and overlap of musicians that occured in the 1970s in particular is well documented on the Ogun label, and shows Tippett playing with Louis Moholo, Elton Dean, Radu Malfatti, Nick Evans and Marc Charig, among others. This period also saw the existence of Ovary Lodge, the group that also included Julie Tippetts. The umbilical cord connecting Tippett to South Africa has continued through his involvement with the Dedication Orchestra, founded to keep alive the South African legacy after all the musicians but Louis Moholo had died, and which has released two recordings on Ogun: Spirits rejoice and Ixesha (Time). In the late 1960s and 1970 Tippett also moved easily between jazz and rock becoming moderately well-known even among rock audiences for his studio-based contributions to three early King Crimson LPs.

Other irregular combinations have included work with, for example, Peter Brötzmann; a duo with Howard Riley that has produced three recordings; membership of Derek Bailey's Company; and duos with Stan Tracey, Andy Sheppard and Peter Fairclough.

A steadily developing interest in music for film was presaged in 1978 when The Ark recorded Frames (Music for an imaginary film). In the 1980s Keith Tippett collaborated as soloist and improvisor with film-makers and dancers in TSW's experimental Body on three floors as well as composing for the Comic Strip's comedy feature Supergrass. In 1991 he was invited to compose for the controversial TV piece The Holy Family album, written and narrated by the late Angela Carter; the same year saw a collaboration with violinist/composer Alex Balanescu on music for Cowboys, a series of five cartoon films. As part of the 1995 Meltdown Festival at the South Bank he appeared at London's National Film Theatre, improvising as a soloist to four short silent films by the Polish director Starewicz.

However, in spite of his extensive discography with groups of varying sizes, it is as a very individual solo pianist that Keith Tippett seems to be mainly recognised: one whose sound worlds lie outside most conventional means of production and whose use of plastic detritus, pebbles, toys, woodblocks and other objects moving round inside the instrument atop the piano's strings, have defined his approach for thirty years now. The term Mujician, aptly bestowed on her father by Inca Tippetts, was given to three FMP solo albums - though there have been several other solos for other labels since - but thereafter this was taken up as the name of a quartet comprising Tippett, Paul Dunmall on reeds, Paul Rogers and bass, and Tony Levin on drums; beginning with 1990's The journey this group has released several CDs on the US Cuneiform label. In 1996 Tippett and Mujician visited South Africa for a collaboration with the Zim Ngqawana's group Ingomaand; then in October 1997 there was a reciprocal tour of the UK organised by Contemporary Music Network. Keith Tippett has also recorded with his wife, Julie Tippetts - in duo, in trio with Willi Kellers, and in other groupings - prepared a large scale work for 21-piece band, Tapestry, for the 1997 Bath Festival, and a piece for string quartet and piano for the 1996 Bath Festival.

On Saturday 13 February 2010, Keith Tippett was the subject of Jazz Library on BBC Radio 3. This hour-long programme gave Keith an opportunity to talk to Alyn Shipton about forty years of his work as a musician. Tracks played (not in full) and discussed were: Thoughts to Geoff from Dedicated to you but you weren't listening; Septober energy part 2; Septober energy part 3; Blues I from Blueprint; Frames part 2; Frames part 1; Veil nebula from Supernova with Stan Tracey; Evening psalm from Couple in spirit on EG; One for you, Dudu - The Dartington concert; Mofolo by the Dedication Orchestra; track 1 of Linuckea; Fourth thread of the Tapestry Orchestra Live at Le Mans; and Colours fulfilled part 1 by Mujician.


1969, You are here... I am there, Polydor 2384.
1969, 1969, Polydor 2383 077/One Way. Julie Driscoll.
1970, In the wake of Poseidon, . King Crimson
1970, Lizard, . King Crimson
1970, Islands, . King Crimson
1970, Dedicated to you but you weren't listening, Vertigo 636002/Repertoire 4449.
1971, Septober energy, RCA Neon NE 9/Dandisc Cent 1/BGOCD485. Centipede.
1972, Blueprint, RCA SF 8290/La Cooka Racha LCVP146CD.
1972, Ovary lodge, RCA SF 8372/What4CD.
1972, Temple of the ancient magical presence, FMRCD78-0301. Ovary Lodge out-take on Frank Perry CD.
1973/76, Different times, different places, Ogun OGCD 041. Harry Miller.
1974, Innovation, Tangent GS 121. Amalgam.
1974, TNT, Emanem/Steam/Blue Note. Duo with Stan Tracey.
1975, Listen/hear, Ogun OG 010. Nicra.
1975, Ovary lodge, Ogun OG 600/OGCD 021.
1975, Which way now, Cuneiform RUNE 233. Harry Miller's Isipingo.
1976, Sunset glow, Utopia UTS 601/Blueprint BP317CD. Julie Tippetts.
1976, Cruel but fair, Compendium/One Way. Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan.
1977, They all be on this road, Ogun OG 410. Elton Dean Quartet.
1977, Mercy dash, Culture Press CP 3012802. Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan.
1977, Diamond express, Freedom FLP 41041. Dudu Pukwana.
1977, Family affair, Ogun OG 310/Ogun HMCD. Harry Miller's Isipingo.
1977, Pipedream, Ogun OG 710/OGCD 033. Marc Charig.
1977, Supernova, Resteamed RSJ105. Stan Tracey/Keith Tippett.
1976/77, Happy daze/Oh! for the edge, Ogun OGCD032. Elton Dean's Ninesense.
1978, Spirits rejoice!, Ogun OG 520. Louis Moholo Octet.
1978, Bra Louis - Bra Tebs/Spirits rejoice!, Ogun OGCD017/018. Louis Moholo-Moholo Octet. CD re-issue of Ogun OG 520.
1978, Different times, different places, volume two, Ogun OGCD 045. Harry Miller.
1978, Frames (Music for an imaginary film), Ogun CD 010/011. Ark
1978, In conference, Ogun OG 523/Ogun HMCD. Harry Miller Group.
1979, The unlonely raindancer, Universe productions 2 LS 48.
1980, No gossip, FMP SAJ-28. Duo with Louis Moholo.
1980, Boundaries, JAPO 60033. Elton Dean Quintet.
1981, Mujician, FMP SAJ-37/FMP CD 95. Solo.
1981, First encounter, Impetus IMP 38002 box set. Duo with Howard Riley.
1981, , First encounter, Jazzprint JPVP114. Duo with Howard Riley; CD issue of Impetus disc.
1982, Tern, FMP SAJ-43/44. With Louis Moholo and Larry Stabbins.
1982, Epiphany/Epiphanies, Incus 46/47. Company
1982, Epiphany, Incus CD42/43. Company.
1984, A loose kite in a gentle wind floating with only my will for an anchor, Ogun OGD 007/008; Ogun OGCD030. Keith Tippett Septet.
1984, In focus, Affinity AFF 137. Duo with Howard Riley.
1984, , In focus, Jazzprint JPVP111. Duo with Howard Riley; CD issue of Affinity disc.
1984, Bratislava jazz days 84, Opus 9115 1652/53. Track with Peter Brötzmann, Willi Kellers, Johannes Bauer and Julie Tippetts.
1985, The Supergrass, Island Visual Arts Ista 11.
1985, Solo improvisation/Duet improvisation, Vand'Oeuvre 8501. Solo; and duo with Hans Reichel.
1986, Mr Invisible and the drunken Sheilas, FMP SAJ. With Julie Tippetts and Maggie Nicols.
1986, Mujician II, FMP SAJ-55/FMP CD 95. Solo.
1987, Mujician III (august air), FMP CD 12. Solo.
1987, Couple in spirit, EG EGED 52/EEGCD52. Duo with Julie Tippett.
1987, Catechism, Music & Arts CD-4913. Dennis Gonzalez & Dallas-London Sextet.
1988, Two steps to easier breathing: a South African suite, BF 2. Persuasion A.
1987/88, Duos, E.D. Tapes. Elton Dean.
1987/88, Two's and three's, Voiceprint VP167CD. Elton Dean.
1989, Trios, E.D. Tapes. Elton Dean.
1990, The Dartington concert, EEG 2106. Solo.
1990, 66 shades of lipstick, EGGLP/EEGCD64. Duo with Andy Sheppard.
1990, Second thoughts, SLAM CD203. One track on this Elton Dean CD.
1990, The journey, Cuneiform Rune 42. Mujician.
1991, The Bristol concert, What Disc What7CD. Mujician and The Georgian Ensemble.
1992, Spirits rejoice, Ogun OGCD 101. The Dedication Orchestra.
1993, Twilight etchings, FMP CD 65. With Julie Tippett and Willi Kellers.
1993, The Bern concert, FMR CD08-071994. Duo with Howard Riley.
1993, Interchange, Jazzprint JPVP109CD; re-issue of The Bern concert. Duo with Howard Riley.
1994, Ixesha (Time), Ogun OGCD 102. The Dedication Orchestra.
1994, Une croix dans l'océan, Victo cd031. Solo.
1994, Untitled, Blast First BFFP107. Compilation concert CD. With Peter Brötzmann & Willi Kellers.
1994, Poem about the hero, Cuneiform Rune 62. Mujician.
1995, Birdman, Cuneiform Rune 82. Mujician.
1995, Wild silk, ASC CD8. Duo with Peter Fairclough.
1995, Double mirror, Splasc(H) CDH 469.2. Stefano Maltese.
1995, Mpumi, Ogun OGCD 014. Duos with Louis Moholo-Moholo.
1996, Couple in spirit II, ASC CD12. Duo with Julie Tippett.
1996, Bladik, Cuneiform Rune 92. Mujician/Elton Dean/Roswell Rudd.
1996, Desire and liberation, SLAMCD 225. Paul Dunmall Octet.
1996, Bò kay la vi-a, Ogun OGCD 012. Francine Luce.
1997, Bebop stardust, Cuneiform Rune 112. Paul Dunmall Octet.
1997, Colours fulfilled, Cuneiform Rune 102. Mujician.
1997, Friday the thirteenth, Sakura Notes/Voiceprint LCVP136CD. Solo live in Japan.
1998, The first full turn (1998), Emanem 4026. Rottor.
1998, Live at Le Mans, Red Eye Music redeye008. Keith Tippett Tapestry Orchestra.
1998, Zen fish, SLAMCD 232. Dreamtime.
1999, Slamfest, SLAMCD 405. Dreamtime on compilation 2-disc set.
1999, Set of 5, ASC CS CD37. Daryl Runswick.
2000, Linückea, FMR CD70-0600.
2000, Onosante, DUNS Limited edition 006. Paul Dunmall/Keith Tippett/Philip Gibbs/Pete Fairclough.
2000, The Great divide, Cuneiform RUNE 142. Paul Dunmall Octet.
2001, Spacetime, Cuneiform RUNE 162. Mujician.
2001, Kunikazu, DUNS Limited edition 017. Paul Dunmall/Keith Tippett/Philip Gibbs/Peter Fairclough/Roberto Bellatalla.
2001, Imago, JAZZPRINT JPVP132CD. Duo with Peter Fairclough.
2002, Another part of the story, Emanem 4088. Riley/Tilbury/Tippett.
2003, I wish you peace, Cuneiform RUNE 203. Paul Dunmall Moksha Big Band.
2003, Pianoforte, SLAMCD 257. Tippett/Riley/Grew/Thomas.
2004, Live at the Priory, FMRCD161-i0205. Dartington Improvising Trio.
2004, Viva La Black live at Ruvo, OGUN OGCD 020. Keith Tippett/Julie Tippetts/Louis Moholo-Moholo/Canto Generàl.
2005, Mahogany rain, DUNS Limited edition 044. Keith Tippett/Julie Tippetts/Philip Gibbs/Paul Dunmall.
2005, A day for a reason, Tob Records TRCD 020. George Burt/Raymond MacDonald Sextet featuring Keith Tippett.
2005, There's no going back now, Cuneiform RUNE 232. Mujician.
2006, Boohoo fever, Leo Records CD LR 472. George Burt/Raymond MacDonald Sextet featuring Keith Tippett.
2008, Couple in Spirit Live at the Purcell Room, OGUN OGCD 034. Keith and Julie Tippett.
2010, grubenklang. reloaded, Random Acoustics Book/DVD. One KT audio track.
2011, From granite to wind, OGUN OGCD 036. Keith Tippett Octet.
2012, Mujician Solo IV: live in Piacenza, Dark Companion Records CD001.
2012, Two for Joyce, Long Song Records LSRCD127/2013. Keith Tippett/Giovanni Maier.
2013, L'Étau: choses clandestines, Bloc Thyristors 0140/50/60/70. Keith Tippett/Michel Pilz/Paul Rogers/Jean-Noël Cognard.

Acknowledgements mp3 clips Bibliography Home page
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