Black Top with Special Guest Cleveland Watkiss

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    Saturday 28th November

    Urban Coffee, FarGo Village, Far Gosford Street, CV1 5ED, Coventry…        
    Festival website:



Black Top return to Cafe Oto for their annual festival appearance. Previous years have seen Americans Marco Eniedi and Ornette Coleman Bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma bring the house down with some stellar performances that have been proclaimed as the highlight of the festival. This year they have been allowed to have one special night instead of their usual two..Their special guest this year is one of the UK’s finest musicians,the Saxophonist Evan Parker..

Wednesday 18 November 2015, 8pm



Wednesday 18 November 2015, 8pm…CAFE OTO  £12 £10 Advance £6 Members

“Can you think of a better saxophone player? I can’t. He is a giant.” Robert Wyatt

Last year Black Top had two sold out concerts where they were joined by Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time cohort the incredible bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Formidable drummer Mark Mondesir & the extraordinary Harmonica player Philip Achille.

This year Black Top are joined by very special guest Evan Parker, Parker is one of the great saxophone players, pushing the instrument into uncharted waters since his emergence in the latter. Parker had invited Black Top to be his guests as part of his 70th Birthday celebrations last year. The subsequent concert was recorded and follows on from Black Top’s internationally critically acclaimed debut album titled “No1” on the Babel Label with guest Saxophonist Steve Williamson. The new album with Evan Parker is launched this month on Babel Label titled ‘Black Top No 2 with Evan Parker’.

Evan Parker Free improvised music has accounted for most of Parker’s activities over the last forty years, whether playing solo or in groups, but both jazz and art music composers have also deployed the arresting physicality of his sound as a contrasting and energising element. His saxophones have been heard inside jazz big bands led by Kenny Wheeler, Chris McGregor, Barry Guy, Stan Tracey and Charlie Watts and in the chamber music of Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, Frederic Rzewski and others.

Black Top, the duo of multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson and pianist Pat Thomas was initiated in late 2011, as a shape-shifting unit, dedicated to exploring the intersection between live instruments and lo-fi technology. Cover artists on Jazzwise earlier this year, their first release on Babel has gained many top notch reviews, such as 5* in They reprise their successful collaboration with Evan Parker from early 2014.

Their virtuoso, freely improvised performances combine twisted loops, samples and dub-effects, which draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots, with a spontaneity and daring rooted in the free-jazz experiments of New York loft-scene innovators such as Sam Rivers. To date, live collaborators have included saxophonists Steve Williamson, Shabaka Hutchings and Jason Yarde, vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, flugel horn player Claude Deppa and trumpeter Byron Wallen and tonight, Evan Parker.



Black Top (Orphy Robinson, Pat Thomas) meets Magic Science Quartet featuring Marshall Allen, Henry Grimes – Special Vortex benefit late night show. JUST ANNOUNCED! Wednesday 30th September 2015 | 11:00pm – 1:00am                                         Black Top are one of the most dynamic and exciting of groups. Their regular collaborative gigs, especially at Cafe Oto, are legendary. Two albums are now out, the first with Steve Williamson and new one with Evan Parker.  Tonight a special last minute concert when Black Top meet the Sun Ra Arkestra alumni Marshall Allen’s Magic Science Quartet: This will surely be remembered as one of those one off legendary nights in the history of free Improv and Free Jazz.

  • Black Top (Orphy Robinson, Pat Thomas) meets Magic Science Quartet featuring Marshall Allen, Henry Grimes – Special Vortex benefit late night show. JUST ANNOUNCED!

Black Top is one of the most dynamic and exciting of groups. Their regular collaborative gigs, especially at Cafe Oto, are legendary. Two albums are now out, the first with Steve Williamson and new one with Evan Parker.

Magic Science Quartet:

Henry Grimes (bass), Marshall Allen (saxophone) , Avreeayl Ra (drums), KA (piano)

A further chance to hear is band at the Vortex added for this amazing quartet, featuring Henry Grimes, the legendary bassist and Marshall Allen, the irrespressible nonagenarian leader of the Arkestra (which he joined in 1958). “WOW!!! I’ve never heard a group whose name is more appropriate! The instantaneous dialogue that master musicians Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen call home, inhabiting each string, metal and skin exchange as if palaces from some bygone age when musical royalty really mattered; the irrepressible KA punctuating on all cylinders and in all registers; Henry Grimes transforming foundational harmonies, merging them with the microtonal melodic threads that only he can weave; Avreeayl Ra the magician liquid-dancing between groove and orchestration, channeling space and timbre; and whoosh!! — Marshall Allen’s electronics unite frequency and mystery, precision and folktale, science and magic!” – Marc Medwin


Black Top @ Freedom: The Art of improvisation festival 28th June 2015

black top freedom festival flyer

with special guests:                                                                                                                                               

Rachel Musson – Saxophones.                                                                                                                                

Otto Williams – Bass,                                                                                                                                             Roland Ramanan – Trumpet,                                                                                                                         

Cleveland Watkiss – Voice,                                                                                                                                  Mark Mondesir – Drums.
Venue: The Vortex Jazz club. Date: 28th June 2015, Time: 3.45.


Rachel Musson


Rachel is a saxophonist, improviser and composer living in London, UK. She is involved with a number of ongoing improvisation projects, including a trio with Liam Noble, Mark Sanders that released the acclaimed album Tatterdemalion on Babel Label, a trio with Julie Kjaer and Hannah Marshall, and duos with vibraphonist Corey Mwamba (recently back from a Sountrips tour in Germany) and bassist Olie Brice. She has appeared with musicians such as Steve Beresford, John Russell, Ståle Laivik-Solberg, Paal Nilssen-Love, Mark Halvorson and others. She also ran and wrote for her quit net Skein, which released an album on F-IRE Records to rave reviews.

Superior out sounds, for sure. Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise

Otto Williams

otto williams

Otto Williams is a professional producer, bassist, and musical director.    He studied at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (The Fame school), The Jazz Mobile of New York, and the City College of New York. His live performances include: Ray Charles, Chaka Khan (Musical Director), Keziah Jones (Musical Director), Don Blackman, Frank McComb, Michal Urbaniak, Sia Furler, Marc Antoine, Brian Culbertson, Peter White, Peabo Bryson, Sarah Jane Morris ,Rebbie Jackson. Album recordings include: Michal Urbaniak, Sia Furler, Keziah Jones, Curlew, FumiakiI Miyamoto.

 Roland Ramanan

roland ramanan

Since his first experiences playing with legendary drummer John Stevens in 1989, Ramanan has been a continuing presence on the London improvised music scene. Constantly exploring the boundaries between composition and improvisation as well as the sound possibilities of the trumpet, he has worked with Peter Brotzmann, Eddie Prevost, Evan Parker, Simon Fell, Marcio Mattos, Alex Ward and Tony Marsh. He plays in a range of settings from pure improvisation to complex composition and points in-between. Ramanan has also been a conductor and stalwart of the London Improvisers Orchestra since its inception. He has numerous recordings on Emanem, Leo and Babel records featuring small groups and a free jazz tentet playing his own compositions:

“Throws a bomb under the usual carve-up between composition and improvisation. big fun . I relished this CD.” Philip Clark, WIRE Magazine

“…coruscating work that would be right at home in Sun Ra’s conductions.” Stuart Broomer, Signal to Noise

“…consistently exciting work that balances big structural ideas – that seem here to involve clashing together opposing masses of sound and listening for what comes off.”

Brian Morton, Point of Departure

Cleveland Watkiss


Cleveland Watkiss is a British virtuoso vocalist, actor and composer. He was the winner of the London Jazz Awards for Best Vocalist in 2010 and was voted Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards best vocalist for three consecutive years.

Watkiss was born in Hackney, East London, to Jamaican parents, and was one of nine children.[2] He studied voice at the London School of Singing with opera coach Arnold Rose and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was also one of the co-founders of the vastly influential Jazz Warriors big band. His vocals can be heard on their debut album, Out of Many People, which won a video award in Japan.

Watkiss was then entered for the Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards and was voted best vocalist for three consecutive years, and was the opening act of choice for two of the world’s greatest female jazz vocalists, Cassandra Wilson and Abbey Lincoln. John Fordham, the Guardian music journalist, described Cleveland as “arriving on the scene with a bang”.

Watkiss has performed with a diverse range of artists from around the world, including: the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Düsseldor, Symphonic Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis & JALO, Bob Dylan, Jackie Mittoo, Keith Richards, James Taylor Quartet, Art Blakey, Sly & Robbie, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, Patife, Lepaja Symphonic Orchestra, Carlinhos Brown, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALO), Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, Bobby McFerrin,The Who, Branford Marsalis, George Martin, Julian Joseph, Bocato Big Band, Lisa Stansfield, Courtney Pine, Janet Kay, Maxi Priest, Soul II Soul, London Chamber Orchestra, Kassa Mady, Goldie, Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Wheeler big band, Sugar Minott, Talvin Singh, Björk, Pete Townshend, London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC), and many more.

Watkiss is also a keen music educator, working as a voice instructor for Singup, with workshops in venues/schools, colleges and universities around the UK. More recently, Watkiss was cast in the starring role in Julian Joseph

and Mike Phillips’s ground-breaking jazz operas Bridgetower and Shadowball He has performed in many of the major concert halls, festivals and clubs around the world with “VocalSuite”, a solo voice performance, and his new Quartet “Song Diasporas”, accompanied by Ernesto Simpson (drums) and Larry Bartley (bass) Jonathan Gee (Piano).

Mark Mondesir


Without doubt one of the UK’s most extraordinary drumming talents, Mark Mondesir is simply a master of the kit. Born in East London, Mark is largely self-taught, a surprising fact to those who witness his incredible drum independence in action.
His career really took off when he turned 20 and he has since worked with an incredible line up of top artists including Courtney Pine, Julian Joseph, Kevin Eubanks, John Scofield, John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, The London Symphony Orchestra, Joe Zawinul, Pee Wee Ellis and many more.
As well as playing drums, Mark is also involved in composing and is an extremely popular clinician.

Black Top – Pat Thomas & Orphy Robinson.



The Official Freedom Festival website

Click on the FB Ticket Shop: get advance tickets for Workshops, Gigs, and Weekend passes for both adults and kids. Here’s a sneaky peak of our awesome line up of artists for the Freedom Festival. More info will be posted soon.


Black Top @ Bath Jazz festival Sunday 24th May 2015



“A highly effective collaboration that is unique in its totality” All About Jazz

Orphy Robinson
Philip Achille   HARMONICA
Beibei Wang   PERCUSSION

Black Top, the duo of multi-instrumentalist OrphyRobinson and pianist Pat Thomas, was created in late 2011, dedicated to exploring the combination of live instruments and lo-fi technology. Their virtuoso, freely improvised performances combine twisted loops, samples and dub effects, drawing on their AfroCaribbean roots with a spontaneity and daring rooted in the free-jazz experiments of New York loft-scene innovators such as Sam Rivers.

Black Top will be joined by harmonica player Philip Achille, who has been garnering wide spread critical acclaim & attention in both the classical and jazz arenas. They are joined by the Chinese multi-instrumentalist BeibeiWang (percussion) who has also been creating waves internationally.

(Concessions available)

Welcome to Bath International Music Festival: Friday 15 – Tuesday 26 May 201512 glorious early summer days of wonderful music, performed by some of the world’s finest musicians in beautiful venues and unusual spaces against the backdrop of this World Heritage City.Bath International Music Festival 2015 celebrates its 67th year combining a fine classical programme with the best in contemporary jazz, world and folk. Highlights include: Steven Osborne – Artist in Residence, Hugh Masekela, Willard White, John Butt, Thomas Trotter, Stile Antico, Mike Westbrook, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, Emily Portman, Bellowhead’s Sam Sweeney, Laura van der Heijden & European Union Chamber Orchestra.General booking is Now Open 01225 463 362