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The Unasked Question

by Mark Browne, Martin Hackett, Pat Thomas

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Mark Browne saxophones and collected objects
Martin Hackett Korg MS10 synthesiser
Pat Thomas electronics, Moog Theremini

“In November 2014, I dropped off my daughter with her friends at Alexandra Palace and realised I had an evening to spare. With the chance of seeing some good music I headed to Café Oto. Pat Thomas was playing with Black Top, his regular duo with Orphy Robinson, augmented on this evening with bass guitarist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, harmonica player Philip Achille and Mark Mondesir playing drums.
I hadn’t seen Pat for over 20 years. The idea of playing as a duo was discussed, with Oxford being a possible location.
It took a further 5 years before we finally started looking for a venue.
Churches were suggested for their acoustic properties, but were found wanting when it came to the condition of their pianos. We’d spoken about using the Fusion Arts Centre in Oxford, but memories of the acoustics suggested that this was not what we required (and has no useable piano).
I arranged a visit to see a church in Cowley one evening with Pat. We would meet at Fusion Arts where Evan Parker was playing with Oxford Improvisers.
Pat’s immediate response upon arrival was that we should use Fusion Arts as the acoustics were very good. The need for a piano, the reason for searching the churches and community centres across Oxford, was forgotten.
Martin Hackett was playing with the Oxford Improvisers that evening and the trio was arranged. I had known Martin for some time from associations with Oxford Improvisers and via mutual friends. We had recently played as a trio with Lawrence Casserley in London at the Iklektic Arts Lab.

For me the contrast between this recording and those made with Pat in the 1990s is my change in instrumentation. From 2000 I’d moved away from using just saxophone and incorporated additional instruments. I view these as “collected objects” born out of an idea in a more structured way than “found objects”. The full array includes game calls, gongs of various sizes (largest being 38”), tins filled with glass or stones, small synthesizers and materials fit to be bowed.
Another difference is that I can’t remember what my intentions were back in the 1990s.
With the passing of time, memory has faded and I can view the earlier recordings with a degree of detachment and objectivity.
This recent recording is still within my current frame of reference. I can more readily recognise my sound, remember the decisions I made during the performance, the features of the room and how the instruments felt on that day.”


released June 15, 2022

recorded 04 May 2019 by Mark Browne at the Fusion Arts Centre, Oxford


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