fish of the week

by Steve Beresford

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recorded on the 12th of November 1993 at the Contemporary Improvised Music Festival, Korzo Theatre, The Hague
commissioned by the Phoenix Foundation
recorded by Steven Kampmeijer for De Concertzender Nederland

image by Kukan Archive
paintings by Max Eastley

originally released by scatter on CD in 1996


released June 15, 2017

Alexander Balanescu violin
Clive Bell shakuhachi, khene, flutes, etc
Francine Luce voice
John Butcher soprano and tenor saxophones
Mark Sanders drums
Steve Beresford piano and casio sk

Kilburn High Road is one of the best places in London to find cheap, useful objects. One day, I came across some beautiful old-style bicycle bells - "Flying Vanes" brand - made in China.
I bought six, with a vague idea that they might soon come in handy.
I already had in my possession a children's word game in the shape of a folded piece of card. A story on the inside had gaps where the nouns should be. The back had a list of names of fish. The game being to choose a fish name for each gap in the story that makes some kind of sense, usually as a pun.
Peter van Bergen, a saxophone player from The Hague, whose group "Loos" I have played with, rang me to invite me to play at the CIM Festival in the Korzo Theatre. He said that the theme was 'games' and I took it to mean that he wanted me to write a piece with that theme.
I don't actually think that he did mean that, but that's how it ended up.
Having played in some of John Zorn's ensembles, playing his game pieces, I wanted to put something together myself.
Normally I separate writing and improvising completely. There is free-improvising in one corner and song-writing in the other.
Occasionally my attempts at jazz involve both.
Around this time, I had written the music for a fishing series on Channel 4 called "Screaming Reels". Kudos, the producers, had a regular item in it called "Fish of the Week". I kept the title after they dropped it. Things seemed to be making their own connections.
Fish (especially herring) and bicycles (especially heavy ones) are the third and fourth things which come to mind when I think of Holland.
(The first and second are pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink).
I recalled the old feminist saying "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle".
Alex and Mark had played on the "Screaming Reels" score.
It transpired that Francine's family name is the English name of a fish, listed on the back of the game card. Clive's family name also seemed very appropriate.
But, these were, of course, additional pleasant coincidences.
I chose the musicians because they are all exceptionally good.
I'd like to dedicate the piece to my parents June and Les (they have a 78 called "Bicycle Bells") and express my thanks to everyone involved for their support and generosity.
Steve Beresford



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