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Music review Elliott Sharp, Cafe Oto London

Avant-garde excellence from the Elliott Sharp trio

CLEVELAND guitarist Elliott Sharp has been a central figure in US avant-garde and experimental music since the 1970s and as if to stress the point he begins his Cafe Oto gig by reading from his autobiography irRational Music.

It tells of of his early years in music and his contemporaries’ deep suspicion of free improvisation, “as if the music I was playing was cheating.”

His trio, with bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders seething in the cauldron of improvisation, has Sharp playing guitar with Hendrix-like screeches and agonies. Yet, in an instant, sudden moments of tenderness and quietude radiate, with notes like droplets of rain.

The astonishing and gimlet-eyed Sanders selects which skin or metal will serve the trio’s sonic will, while Edwards’s hands are a pulsating blur, his plucking fingers outrageously fast as his bass dances.

This Anglo-American trio is one of unique sound and movement, as instructive and pleasurable to watch as to listen to.

Their skill and originality is the absolute contrary of cheating. It’s the very essence of creation and it’s miraculously on show here.

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