Dagmar Krause, lead vocals
Annie Whitehead, trombone and backing vocals
Michel Delville, synth guitar and backing vocals
Karen Mantler, lead vocals, hammond organ and harmonica
John Edwards, double bass
Chris Cutler, drums
Comicoperando is a sextet paying tribute to one of the world’s best loved singers and songwriters in jazz and pop history. The line-up is composed of leading musicians, four of which have collaborated with Robert Wyatt in the far and recent past. Drawn by a “dream team” of amazing artists devoted to the cause of popular yet challenging ways of redefining progressive jazz, Comicoperando, far from being a mere tribute band, purports to revisit and reinvent Wyatt’s repertoire from a wide range of perspectives while remaining rooted in the composer’s restlessly inventive and iconoclastic spirit.
The band will simultaneously strive for a diversity of styles and registers (all the musicians in the band are involved – collectively or individually – in the selection of the pieces and the arrangements) and offer a set list which will comprise foundational songs from the early years of the Soft Machine to the more recent “popular experimentalism” of the highly acclaimed Comicopera (2008), thus spanning more than 40 years of music history.
Lastly, Comicoperando will be graced by the combined talents of unique singers whose presence alongside some of Europe’s most gifted jazz musicians will confer to the project a lyrical and expressive dimension all too often absent from “regular” jazz tributes.
Dagmar Krause is a German singer, best known for her work with avant-rock groups like Slapp Happy, Henry Cow and Art Bears. She is also noted for her coverage of songs by Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler. Her unusual singing style makes her voice instantly recognisable and has defined the sound of many of the bands with whom she has worked. Her husky, vibrato-laden alto can suddenly swoop into a breathtaking upper register with a power that belies her small, frail physique. In fact, Dagmar Krause, along with June Tabor and Anne Briggs, belongs in the pantheon of great contemporary European singers.
Jazz trombone player Annie Whitehead has emerged as one of the brightest and most versatile musicians in Britain, working with her own groups and a diversity of British jazz luminaries.
Among her initial influences were Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Wayne Henderson. Her eclectic and willing personality brought her to try other genres besides jazz. She worked with Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, National Health, Carla Bley, Robert Wyatt, Joan Armatrading, Chris Rea, Bill Wyman, Elvis Costello, Jah Wobble and others. In 1984 she formed her own band and released her first CD as its leader. She also has participated in the Frank Zappa tribute band Zappatistas with jazz guitarist John Etheridge and others. In 2007 she played trombone on most of the tracks contained in Robert Wyatt’s album Comicopera. BBC Radio 4 called her “one of the country’s great trombonists”.
Michel Delville, Belgian musician, writer and teacher, has been performing and composing alternative music since the mid-1980s. He is the author of several books including J.G. Ballard and The American Prose Poem, which won the 1998 SAMLA Studies Book Award. His most recently formed rock-jazz band, the Wrong Object, plays the music of Franck Zappa and tunes by their own. In 2010 he was invited to join and coordinate Comicoperando.
Karen Mantler is an American jazz musician and composer. She is the daughter of Carla Bley and Michael Mantler. She appeared on the album Escalator Over the Hill as a child, which featured both her parents. She learned glockenspiel and was a member of her mother’s band from 1977 to 1980. She studied organ and piano at the Berklee College of Music. In 1987 she formed her own ensemble for recording; she has released several discs of material, including two on ECM, since then. She toured Europe with her own band twice, and played at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. As the organist of the Carla Bley Big Band, she toured Europe in 1992.
Double bass player John Edwards, after taking up the bass around 1987, co-formed The Pointy Birds which appeared at festivals in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Moers, Leverkusen, Copenhagen. Since 1995 he has become a “mainstay” of the London scene, playing with just about everybody, an activity that has seen him clocking up between 150 and 200 gigs a year. He has become regular player with Evan Parker in many groupings. He has become a more frequent player on the European (and festival) scene, appearing at Taktlos, Ulrichsburg, Nickelsdorf, Budapest, New Zealand and in the USA.
Chris Cutler is an English percussionist, composer, lyricist and music theorist. Best known for his work with English avant-rock group Henry Cow, Cutler was also a member and drummer of a number of other bands, including Art Bears, News from Babel, Pere Ubu and Gong/Mothergong. He has collaborated with many musicians and groups, including Fred Frith, Lindsay Cooper, Zeena Parkins, Peter Blegvad and The Residents, and has appeared on over 100 recordings. Cutler’s career spans over three decades and he still performs actively throughout the world.
Comicoperando is an ExB Production thanks to help of Regione Emilia-Romagna.