Alan Wilkinson

Photograph copyright Jo Fell.

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Born Ilford,East London, 22 August 1955; soprano, alto and baritone saxophones, voice.

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.

Further information

Watson, Ben (199?), "Sod good taste...": punk jazz, The Wire, no. 93, (November), pp. 42-43.


1988, She came in threw the bathroom window, Klinker Zoundz KZ8803. Single track on Hugh Metcalfe LP.
1988, Listen, Feetpackets, Discus DISC 1. Mick Beck and Feetpackets.
1989, Termite two, BFC25.
1989-1994, Seedy boy, BFC456. Solo.
1990, Compilation II, BF 4/BF 26.
1990, Odeon's dropout piece, SLAMCD 401. Single piece on compilation CD.
1991, Bogey's, BFC36/BF 31.
1992, Exploded on impact SLAM CD 204. John Law Quartet.
1992, foom! foom!, BF 5.
1993, The horrors of Darmstadt, SX 025CD.
1993, Music for 10(0), Leo Lab CD 013.
1994, St. John's, Ecstatic Peace! E#77. Hession/Wilkinson/Fell.
1995, Relay III - random play, 2:13 Music 01.
1995, In a sentimental mood, Incus CD25. Duo with Stefan Jaworzyn.
1996, Frankfurter ahnung, Sonic Arts Network SAN 2005. Jaworzyn/Wilkinson/Fell on one track.
1996, Registered firm, Incus CD 33. Hession/Wilkinson/Fell/Morris.
1996 One night in Burmantofts Bo'Weavil Weavil 27CD. Brötzmann/Wilkinson Quartet.
1998, Composition No. 30: Compilation III, Bruce's Fingers BF 27.
2001, Duos, London 2001, Incus CD51. Duo with Derek Bailey.
2003, Freedom of the city 2003: small groups, Emanem 4212.
2003, The ins and outs, Emanem 4116. Free Base
2005, Freedom of the city 2005, Emanem 4216. In trio Wilkinson/Durrant/Sanders.
2006, So are we, so are we, Matchless MRCD68. Prévost/Wilkinson duo.
2006, Along came Joe, Matchless MRCD69. Prévost/Wilkinson/Williamson trio.
2006, Obliquity, Bo'Weavil Weavil 23CD. Steve Noble/John Edwards/Alan Wilkinson.
2008, Live at Cafe Oto, Bo'Weavil Weavil 33CD. Steve Noble/John Edwards/Alan Wilkinson.
2010, Two falls & a submission, Bo'Weavil Weavil 44CD. Hession/Wilkinson/Fell.
2012, The Founder effect I, Treader TRD016. Wilkinson/Thomas/Noble/Coxon.
2012, The Founder effect II, Treader TRD017. Wilkinson/Thomas/Noble/Coxon.

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