29 marzo 2006

Musica Jazz di aprile contiene un ricordo di Elton Dean, un'intervista a Heiner Goebbels, recensioni degli album del trio Di Terra (Braida, Ellis, Spera), di "Spirits Rejoice! / Bra Louis Bra Tebs" di Louis Moholo, di "Naan Tso" di Foxes Fox e del libro biografico su Lol Coxhill. Alessandro Achilli scrive anche su alcune recenti antologie e ristampe di Soft Machine, Ayers, Egg, Arzachel.

27 marzo 2006

Bob Ostertag annuncia l'apertura del suo nuovo sito web, dove è possibile ottenere gratuitamente tutti - o quasi - i materiali sonori di cui possiede personalmente i diritti. Questo allo scopo di diffondere maggiormente la propria musica, ma anche in aperta opposizione a ogni restrittiva concezione del copyright e a quanti speculano sui diritti di proprietà intellettuale.

Nel sito ci sono biografia e discografia aggiornate, recensioni, uno spazio di discussione su temi musicali e politici, notizie su concerti e attività recenti e un cospicuo archivio di scritti.

Questo il comunicato di Ostertag:
I am very happy to announce the launch of my new web site.
Most significantly, the site hosts free downloads of all of my recorded works to which I have the rights. I am doing this both to make my music more widely available, and also as a political move in opposition to the interests which have turned "intellectual property rights" into a battering ram for corporate power. You will find a brief statement on this topic on the home page of the site. I will likely be publishing more on this topic in the near future.
In addition to the free downloads, the site includes:
- A blog, which will be updated semi-regularly with posts on music and politics.
- A writing section featuring books and articles. Those of you who know me primarily as a musician may be surprised by this section, but I have been writing a good deal again. My second book, which is a history of the journalism of social justice movements in America, will shortly be published by Beacon Press, and a collection of essays on music and politics should follow not long after that.
- A fairly decent archive of reviews and articles on my work. It is not comprehensive, but there is far more material than has been previously available.
- Everything concert organizers might need to present a show, including descriptions of current projects, technical riders, photos, bios, program notes, etc.
- A list of upcoming concerts (that I will try to keep up-to-date)

Thank you for your attention,
Bob Ostertag
E questo è lo scritto posto in apertura del sito:
March 25, 2006
I have decided to make all my recordings to which I have the rights freely available as digital downloads from my web site.
These works are now covered by a Creative Commons "Attribution Non-commercial" license that permits you to freely download, copy, remix, sample, manipulate, fold, spindle, tamper with, defuse, detox, or deconstruct - as long as you credit my work as a source, and the work you make is not marketed commercially.This will make my music far more accessible to people around the globe, but my principal interest is not in music distribution per se, but in the free exchange of information and ideas. "Free" exchange is of course a tricky concept; more precisely, I mean the exchange of ideas that is not regulated, taxed, and ultimately controlled by some of the world’s most powerful corporations."Intellectual property rights" have become so absurdly swollen that they now constitute a smokescreen hiding a corporate power grab on a scale rivaling the great robber barons of the nineteenth century. Instead of grabbing land or oil, today's corporate crooks are seizing control of culture.I have made money selling these recordings in the past. It may be my income suffers from giving away these recordings for free. Conversely, it may turn out that my former royalty income will be replaced and perhaps even surpassed by increased income from concert fees due to wider circulation of my music. Who knows? What is known is the cost the corporate "intellectual property rights" battering ram is imposing on culture.Saying goodbye to record royalties is in any event no great sacrifice for a musician such as myself, whose music has always been too adventurous to be valued by the mass market anyway. Strangely, many musicians I know whose work lies outside the mainstream remain much more invested in the idea of selling their recordings than their actual experience in the market would seem to justify.I will continue to sell CDs in addition to offering the free downloads because the sound quality is superior, and many people continue to want a physical object to associate with the music. As my work is about sound first and foremost, there is still good reason to want a full-fidelity CD instead of a compressed MP3 file. I may also make new releases CD-only for an initial period, to defray initial production expenses.I do have serious reservations about this step, however, but they have nothing to do with money. My music is made for sustained, concentrated listening. This kind of listening is increasingly rare in our busy, caffeine-driven, media-drenched, networked world I suspect it is even rarer for music that was downloaded for free, broken up and shuffled through fleeting "playlists," and not objectified in an object that one can hold in one's hand, file on the shelf, or give to a friend. But ultimately this concern has nothing to do whether we charge money to hear recorded music, and everything to do with how we live in a culture in which there is a surplus of information and a scarcity of time to pay attention.

26 marzo 2006

Ridotti per ora a due - anzi, uno e mezzo - i concerti in Italia dei riformati Hatfield & The North: Phil Miller (chitarra elettrica), Richard Sinclair (basso & voce), Pip Pyle (batteria) & Alex Maguire (tastiere).

ven 7 aprile 2006
Mestre (hotel Bologna, via Piave 214) Hatfield and the North (showcase), h 21:30

sab 8 aprile 2006
Gorizia, Auditorium (via Roma, 5; apertura h 20)

Una nutrita galleria di foto scattate a un loro concerto al parigino Le Triton lo scorso anno si può vedere a:

25 marzo 2006

Sono ora noti i dettagli del concerto londinese che si terrà il 9 maggio 2006 al 100 Club in ricordo di Elton Dean.

9 maggio 2006, 100 Club
Elton Dean's Memorial Concert

h 20-20:25: Dreamtime (Jim Dvorak, Gary Curson, Nick Evans, Keith Tippett,Roberto Bellatalla, Jim Le Bague)
h 20:30-20:45: Mark Hewins & Mark Sanders
h 20:55-21:25: Dartington Improvisers Trio (Keith & Julie Tippett, Paul Dunmall)
h 21:30-22: Soft Machine Legacy (Theo Travis, John Etheridge, Hugh Hopper, John Marshall)
h 22:10-22:30: Maggie Nicols, Jim Dvorak, Joe Gallivan
h 22:40-23:10: Mark Charig, Paul Rutherford, Evan Parker, Larry Stabbins, John Edwards, Louis Moholo
h 23:15-23:35: Harry Beckett, Lol Coxhill, Alex Maguire, Marcio Mattos, Tony Marsh

Data la capienza del locale, limitata a 250 posti, è consigliabile prenotare scrivendo a

On February 8 th 2006, sadly, the jazz world lost one of the major contributors to the development of jazz and improvised music here in England and Europe during the mid sixties to a week before his death.Working with many different aspects of this creative community from Keith Tippetts’ small groups, they met at the Barry Summer school with Nick Evans and Mark Charig, Centipede, Ark and Tapestry Orchestra, to Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper in the Soft Machine, Brotherhood of Breath, to his own groups quartets, quintet, the famous Ninesense, and many more. He was a truly individual, professional, and very creative saxophonist, who will be sorely missed.On May 9th at the 100 Club in London many of the musicians who were his friends and fellow travellors along this road will play in tribute to him. This is only a selection others not included will be organising further events in his memory.



Tickets can be reserved and will be held until 21.00 [9pm] reservations by e-mail:
hazel@cadillac.co.uk or telephone Tuesday-Friday 0207.619.9111.

Any further informtion please contact Hazel Miller. Thank you for your support in promoting this very special concert.

24 marzo 2006

BBC RADIO 3 mette in onda stasera uno speciale su Mike Westbrook per 'Jazz on 3', con intervista e antologia di brani dal vivo, alcuni dei quali registrati per l'occasione poche sere fa. Il programma dovrebbe poi rimanere udibile fino a venerdi' prossimo.


22 marzo 2006

Mike Westbrook, il senso del ritmo continuo
Dal vivo il guru del british jazz con uno show ispirato a Caspar Wolf, pittore svizzero del '700
MARIO GAMBA [il manifesto, 22 marzo 2006]
Che idea per musicisti di jazz britannici ispirarsi alle opere di un pittore svizzero del '700 specializzato in paesaggi alpini! Eppure, a parte il rispetto che si deve a Caspar Wolf, il pittore in questione, l'idea funziona. Grazie all'estro e al raziocinio dell'ensemble guidato da Mike Westbrook, compositore bandleader pianista e solista di euphonium di lunga storia, uno dei nomi che hanno fatto in modo che esistesse una scuola, per quanto ricca di esperienze eterogenee, chiamata british jazz.
Al Club La Palma la sera del 16 marzo Westbrook era in scena con l'inseparabile partner nella musica e nella vita, la moglie Kate Westbrook, vocalist e solista di corno francese (una signora che preferisce usare il cognome del marito, in questo tradizionalista, ma solo in questo). Il gruppo, che ha eseguito con poche varianti quella specie di songbook intitolato Art Wolf, titolo anche del cd uscito da poco, era completato (ma che comprimari di lusso! spesso meglio dei loro due leader) dai sassofonisti Pete Whyman e Chris Biscoe. Songbook, abbiamo detto. Perché il programma consisteva in una serie di tredici brani in gran parte con testi, scritti da Kate. Quasi sempre la vocalist, prima di intonare le melodie, certo non proprio di canzoni come si intendono di solito, niente pop né simil-pop, piuttosto echi daWeill a Broadway con iniezioni generose di cultura avant-jazz, prima di intonarle recitava le parole delle vere e proprie poesie tradotte in italiano da Sergio Amadori. Recitazione un po' da teatro «di cantina» e magari con ricordi di Carmelo Bene, qualche leggera esasperazione kabarettistica. Ma poi veniva il canto e lì Kate esibiva gusto stranito, cultura amplissima e originalità. Dolcemente mentale, in prevalenza: proprio con la dolcezza che solo il pensiero caldo può contenere e diffondere. Mike al pianoforte, in genere. Arpeggi sobri, lirici, ma neanche una sbavatura e, soprattutto, un tocco scabro e una capacità di mettere idee pur nella pura decorazione di un preludio o di un accompagnamento. Si capiva quanto jazz e musica contemporanea avesse macinato nella sua vita di musicista sapiente.
Tra le parti cantate, che non erano, però, disposte in modo scontato, all'inizio e di nuovo alla fine, ma potevano cadere in punti diversi del brano, si insinuavano in assolo i due sassofonisti. Incantevole al sax soprano Pete Whyman: ha mostrato come si fa melodia, nel senso comune della linea di note cantabili e carezzevoli, ignorando le melensaggini sia nella sonorità sia nel fraseggio. E l'altro? Chris Biscoe (tutti e due sono compagni di strada da una vita di Westbrook)? All'alto-sax filava via scioltissimo e riflessivo, con qualche reminiscenza di Paul Desmond ben rivissuta. Poi c'erano le parti d'assieme, quando i due coniugi Westbrook imboccavano euphonium e corno francese e unendosi ai due sax davano vita a unisoni che riconciliavano con l'idea un po' logora dell'unisono. Melodie complesse morbide, sapori d'Europa in avanzatissimi pub e jazz-club e (forse) night-club.
L'ensemble, accattivante, aveva anche il suo momento d'orgoglio avant-garde, quando decideva di eseguire un lungo preludio free, si fa per dire, per usare un termine, si trattava di musica contemporanea pura, scritta ma con le movenze magnificamente attuate dell'improvvisazione collettiva. Musica contemporanea ma con quel groove che solo chi sa di jazz può possedere. «L'artista lupo ghigna/nelle fauci della morte », cantava Kate più avanti. E Mike la accompagnava con un «basso continuo» di euphonium, borbottante, un po' tipo musica per banda, strana cosa davvero. E perfetta.

18 marzo 2006

Esce finalmente il bel libro "The sound of squirrel meals", ampio resoconto biografico e discografico su Lol Coxhill, annunciato da tempo attraverso il sito web curato dalla figlia Maddie. Prefazione dell'ineffabile Steve Beresford, amico di sempre e compagno di tante tante avventure.

The sound of squirrel meals - The work of Lol Coxhill
Edited by Barbara Schwarz
A new discography about Lol has just published. The A4 Paperback, containing 160 pages and costing £15.00 & P&P, features:
Introduction by Steve Beresford
Articles and Interviews
Chronology of Recordings
Annotated Discography with comments by Lol Coxhill
Selection of LP and CD covers
Film, TV and Video
Information & mail order UK: email
Rest of Europe/Worldwide:

15 marzo 2006

Alcune belle fotografie di Robert Wyatt prese nello studio Gallery di Phil Manzanera durante le registrazioni per On An Island di David Gilmour si possono vedere a http://www.davidgilmour.com/gallery/gallery.htm
Wyatt è presente sull'acclamatissimo album di Gilmour nel brano Then I Close My Eyes.

08 marzo 2006

Few Scottish artists of any discipline can match the mystique or catalogue of works stretching over 5 decades of Glasgow born Ivor Cutler. A recording artist, poet, illustrator, performer, painter and composer - Cutler's unique and personal delivery is one of philosophical undertone and analysis of the absurdities of life.
Brief Biography
Born in 1923, Glasgow (Ibrox), to a middle class orthodox Jewish family. His upbringing was strict and austere, an experience which would provide endless subject matter for his later writings, although not without a hint of fondness - Cutler's love of purity and simplicity provides an unmoveable foundation for much of his work. As a child he endured the hardship of sharing his mother's love with a new baby brother who he felt received the most attention. Cutler would tell the story of once plotting to kill him, only to be caught just in time by his auntie. On the other hand, without the removal of his place as "favourite" of the family, he suggests he would not have gone on to be as creative as he is.
With Jewish parents he was able to read Hebrew but at school was unable to write English and to this day his writing is a trademark scrawl. He bore the brunt of anti-Semitic harassment from pupils and teachers alike (being given the strap on countless occasions). Cutler's struggle with his religion came to a head in his late teens after querying his priest on the existence of God. After leaving without a sufficient answer he decided to investigate other religions by visiting other churches. Having no luck, he became agnostic.
In 1939 and at the age of 16 he was evacuated to Annan of the south west coast of Scotland, although it is claimed he ran away. However a year later he could not run away from the call of King of Country and he was initially conscripted to work for Rolls Royce making engines for spitfires, and then later being drafted into RAF as a navigator. Cutler was no model crewman by any standard; his dreamy state and love for nature as opposed to combat ensured his time serving for his country was short lived. He spent the remaining part of the war working as a First Aid officer and storeman for the Windsor Engineering Company. He later married and had two children although the marriage did not last very long.
After the end of his conscription he became a teacher at the controversial school, Summerhill, in Suffolk, founded by A S Neill. Summerhill began in 1921 in Dresden Germany, later moving to Austria and then finally setting up a permanent residence in England in 1927 where it is still thriving today. The school is an ultra-liberal commune type establishment (a "free school") where pupils decide which subjects to study and when, and the rules of the school are decided by majority vote of the pupils attending. During this time Cutler felt free to ferment his socialist and humanitarian ideals, particularly in free thinking and being anti-competitive ..."I have avoided competitive situations, because I am not a baboon". In 1951 he moved on to work for the Inner London Education Authority, where he continued to teach in various positions until the 80s. During the 60s he taught music, movement, drama and poetry to 7-11 year olds. During this time it is thought that Cutler's inner spark for creative writing was kindled, a crucial time in his artistic development where making up stories, dance and music was part of the job. Now in his mid 30s, Cutler began writing material with a semi serious view to being published. At that time he was seriously thinking of leaving teaching, to be an artist, preferably a painter, and thought that writing for other people would bring in some extra cash. Now with a family to support, a career move seemed inevitable, however the path it took wasn't something even he imagined.
After a few years having his work rejected by publishers in London's Tin Pan Alley, he decided to perform the work himself. Almost immediately, things started to take a positive turn.In 1957 he began performing his own songs and in 1959 he was asked to perform on BBC Television's "Tonight" program. After the first broadcast, the producer was keen to have him back for future weeks, but it was decided that he was "too ahead of his time". Radio came to the rescue in the form of the BBC's Home Service on a show called "Monday Night at Home", a relationship that would last through to 1963. Along the way he began his recorded career via the Fontana label, an EP entitled "Ivor Cutler of Y'Hup", and later in 1961 a full length album and EP for Decca.The next four years are a bit of mystery (does anyone know?), but in 1967 he escalated the ladder of fame several steps after interest from a little band called The Beatles, who invited him to appear in their film (of particular bad quality), "Magical Mystery Tour". In it he plays the role of tour guide "Buster Bloodvessel", where he more or less plays himself with emphasis on the schoolmaster persona.Around the same time he recorded his first session for John Peel who would invite him back many times right up until Peel's demise.During the 70s and 80s Cutler was at his most productive with a string of albums for the fledgling Virgin label, one for the legendary Harvest label, and later Rough Trade. Along the way he worked with and became friends with a variety of other artists including Soft Machine (and later Robert Wyatt). Throughout this time he wrote ferociously, firstly with children's books in the 70s and then mostly poems and prose in the 80s.
Throughout his career he has performed regularly although appearances have slowed down during the 90s and the 21st century. His show in London in 2004, where he appeared clearly frail was his last.

The Works of Ivor Cutler
The most remarkable aspect of Ivor Cutler's recordings and poems is that for almost his entire career, the format and style of this output has remained constant, almost as if he realised his natural and instinctive forte early on and stuck to it with hardly any deviation. From the first EP on Fontana to his last LP for Rough Trade, one could transpose songs and stories from one into the other and have difficulty in spotting any obvious difference. One reason for this permanence is the fundamental tools of his trade: voice and harmonium. The harmonium, a foot or hand pumped organ, was already an archaic instrument when he first began recording in the 50s, and thus the timelessness was ensured. Cutler used the instrument with trademark effect, very often using a single chord to introduce a poem. Although he used a variety of instruments on other occasions (ranging from piano to weird and wonderful Nigerian instruments), the harmonium was the central sound throughout his recording career. When listening to Ivor Cutler one is quickly accustomed to the sound of his feet working the pedals back and forth to drive its pipe system.Style wise, it is obvious that Cutler is wise to all forms of music, which he has incorporated into songs: jazz, stage musical, baroque, nursery.
Ivor Cutler's subject matter, when scrutinised fairly closely is as complex as it is subtle. The words and delivery can seem nonsensical or gibberish, perhaps even verging on the insane. One has to take into account Cutler's time spent as a teacher to realise the source of his material and more importantly, the fact that his view of the world was the unadulterated viewpoint of a child. We can draw a majestic parallel with that of Einstein, where much of his theories were spawned from thinking from a child's perspective ... "what if?". A prime example is Cutler's play on words, particularly the failings of the English language, no doubt scrutinised while learning Hebrew as a child as well his family's adopted tongue. Examples such as the song "Traffic Jam" where he discusses the pros and cons of different types of jam (that which you eat), and "Shoplifters" where shop owners are offered help in literally lifting up their shop. One only has to present such a term to a child for the first time to realise the true absurdity of English, Cutler is merely making a point.His years of teaching, particularly during the 60s, laid the foundations for his creative talent, and also the style in which he delivered it. His classification of adults who dismiss his work are merely those who think in an adult way, and have lost the all important means of accepting the world through eyes of a child which one would argue, is the clearest. The manner in which his poems are read: with purpose, clarity and with accent on the consonants, resemble someone still attempting to learn the language, mixed with delivering clear instruction to a class. Even after moving on to performing, he likened the audience to a classroom of children, sitting quietly ready to be educated. In poetry, Cutler is keen to point out that the sound of words, and more simply the sound of speech, is just as important as the sentences themselves."You can see the Irish really enjoying it [my gigs], because the Celts are really keen on the noise that words make, the music that words make".When he was perfecting his poetry skills, before he ever decided he was any good at it, he would go to jazz nights in town and write words (some English some not), allowing the melodies and harmonies soak through his mind into the pen and onto the paper.
In interviews, Cutler is surprisingly open about his method of comedy and communication, pointing out that in order to convey comedy through stealth, rather than simply by telling jokes, one has to tap into the child within us all, which can often fail on those who present their adult mind as a barrier, and therefore only hearing the poem or story in its literal sense."People try to imitate me, but they think that all you have to do is be funny with a straight face. They don't realise that my humour is coming from my unconscious mind. If they want to be funny that's what they should be doing, but I don't think they know easily how to do it, because it's a bit tricky, you have to sneak past the intellect.""All the words that I use are just a vehicle like radio waves, a message from my unconscious to the unconscious of the listener. I don't know what I have communicated, and the listener doesn't know what is being communicated, but I am constantly being told by people 'I don't understand what you have just said, but I do feel I have been communicated with".In discussion with John Peel during his first every session, he slips in a comment on parents allowing children to read his books."I've been reading them to children and they appear to like them, but whether their parents are prepared to get rid of the artificial arbitrary strictures which prevent them from enjoying this kind of thing is another matter".Cutler's subject matter is far and varied, but there is a distinct section of his work which is semi-autobiographical. The most obvious is that of his childhood, particularly on the album and book "Life in a Scotch Sitting Room Part 2". Cutler paints an unreasonably dark picture of poverty and neglect from his parents, along with a stoicism that any monk would be proud of. In particular, he focuses on the individual's acceptance and gratitude for the most basic elements of life, nature and love. The prose is heavily spattered with references of how life in Scotland was in the 20s and 30s. The images are heavily exaggerated, and this is perhaps for two reasons, one being the writing allows him to vent the unprintable (such as the lack of motherly love), and the second is toying with the Scottish stereotype.
Another topic which features in his work is that of marriage, or more specifically the basis of relationships. In the song "Trouble Trouble", the lines go ..."Why don't a woman love a woman,And why don't a man love a man,For if woman love a man,It's trouble trouble trouble all the time"Cutler's marriage did not last very long, and perhaps the experience made him think long and hard about the fact that although men and woman attracted, they are rarely similar animals intellectually. Cutler's sentiments are in no way homosexual, merely realistic. It is known that he had a long term "relationship" with the writer Phyllis April King who appeared on many of his recordings in the 70s, but they never married, and obviously the modernist relationship suited them both.
Later Life
With very little output since the late 90s, it became known that during 2004 suffered ill health and was admitted to a nursing home. In March 2006 Ivor died. Ivor reached out with his philosophy through his broad catalogue of work that spans more decades and more major record labels than possibly any other recording artist known in the world. He will surely never be forgotten.
Long live Ivor Cutler.
The Cosmic Crofter, 2006.

07 marzo 2006

Riporto oggi da The Guardian questo splendido ritratto di Ivor Cutler:

Ivor Cutler
Unassuming master of offbeat humour whose eccentric take on the world entertained generations
Mark Espiner
Tuesday March 7, 2006

Cutler's Jewish parents and grandparents came to the UK at the end of the 19th century in the wake of pogroms in eastern Europe. Thinking they were bound for the US, but finding their ship docked at Glasgow, they stayed there. Ivor was born 100 yards from the Rangers ground at Ibrox Park - he perpetuated the myth that his first scream was synchronous with a goal.His childhood, shared with two brothers and two sisters, should have been happy, but a combination of anti-semitic schoolteachers and the belief that he became a lesser being in his mother's eyes after his younger brother was born seemed to inhibit his development. At the age of three, he tried to kill his younger sibling with a poker, only to be stopped by an intervening aunt. But songs around the piano in three-part harmonies, and the formative moment when, aged six, he won the school prize for his rendition of Robert Burns' My Love is like a Red Red Rose, give a somewhat warmer picture of his upbringing.

Nevertheless, the exaggerated view of a dour Scots childhood, no doubt informed by seeing his peers arriving at school with bare feet - a fact which, he later claimed, helped form his leftwing political views, aged five - appeared in his hilarious writings, Life in a Scotch Sitting Room Volume 2. With lines such as "Voiding bowels in those days was unheard of. People just kept it in," he used a string of fantastical untruths to expose the reality of his life and the Spartan - and sometimes sadistic - Scottish existence.

In 1939 Cutler was evacuated to Annan. Following some failed attempts by his travelling salesman father to include him in the business, he took a job as an apprentice fitter at Rolls-Royce. In 1941, determined to prove wrong those who claimed that Jews were not pulling their weight by enlisting, he signed up for the RAF. He trained as a navigator, but was dismissed for being too dreamy and absent-minded, apparently more interested in looking at the clouds from the cockpit window than locating a flight path. He served out the rest of the war as a first aid and storeman with the Winsor Engineering Company, then studied at Glasgow School of Art and became a schoolteacher.

Working at a school in Paisley, however, did not agree with Cutler. He hated discipline that required the strap, having received it more than 200 times himself, and in a dramatic gesture took the instrument from his desk, cut it into pieces and dispensed them to the class. Leaving Scotland was, he claimed, "the beginning of my life".
That new life included teaching at AS Neill's Summerhill school. Dubbed a hippy academy where a different approach to education was fostered, Summerhill was run with rules agreed between staff and pupils, and the premise was to educate the whole person. This alternative philosophy appealed to Cutler. He lived in the grounds of the school and engaged the pupils with drama and music. He also married and had two children, although the marriage did not last, and elements of his eccentric behaviour surfaced in his parenting, such as his insistence on sending his son to his first day at school in a kilt.

Cutler continued to teach until 1980 for the Inner London Education Authority - to the chagrin of some parents, who found his unorthodox methods subversive (such as having his pupils improvise, during a drama class, killing their siblings). But he also had a showbiz career, and claimed it was teaching that unlocked his creativity. He began with a gig at the Blue Angel, in London in 1957, which he always referred to as an unmitigated failure, and he did not begin writing poetry until he was 42 - maintaining he was not any good until he was 48.

Cutler hawked his songs around Tin Pan Alley and was eventually recognised by a promoter who recorded his work and introduced him to the comedy producer Ned Sherrin. Sherrin was tickled by Cutler's surrealist folk music and booked him to appear on television; he subsequently performed on the Acker Bilk Show and Late Night Line-Up. On one such appearance he was spotted by Paul McCartney, who invited Cutler to appear in the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour (1967). Cutler duly found himself playing Buster Bloodvessel, the bus conductor who announces to his passengers, "I am concerned for you to enjoy yourselves within the limits of British decency" and then develops a passion for Ringo's large aunt Jessie.

In another Beatles connection, his 1967 record, Ludo, was produced by George Martin, who was not amused by Cutler's eccentricities during the Abbey Road recording sessions. Maintaining its appeal to a new generation, the record was re-released on Oasis's label, Creation, in 1998. Cutler's distinctive baritone, coupled with the wheeze of the harmonium, became the trademark of his songwriting style as much as his offbeat, imaginative and observant lyrics.

For the latter part of his career, Cutler lived on his own in a flat on Parliament Hill Fields, north London, which he found by placing an ad in the New Statesman saying "Ivor Cutler seeks room near Heath. Cheap!". There he would receive visitors, and his companion Phyllis King, in a reception room filled with clutter, pictures and curios, including his harmonium, some ivory cutlery (a pun, of course) and a wax ear stapled to the wall with six-inch nails - proof of his dedication to the Noise Abatement Society, because of which he forbade his audience ever to whistle in appreciation at his work. The bicycle was his preferred mode of transport, its cow-horn handlebars in the sit-up-and-beg position in line with his Alexander technique practice.

Besides his accomplishments in songwriting and poetry (he was included in Faber's collection of Scottish verse, edited by Douglas Dunn), Cutler also engaged in quasi-performance art. He was wont to carry chalk to draw circle faces around dog excrement on the pavement, and would hand out gold sticky labels inscribed with such legends as "Made of dust", "True happiness is knowing you're a hypocrite" and "Changing your pants is like taking a clean plate".

Although he often took a stern demeanour with strangers, and insisted on them addressing him as Mr Cutler, it was in many ways a front. In less public company, his face would readily break into a grin, and sometimes he would remove his fez or hat to reveal a bald pate, about which he once remarked: "Sur le volcan ne pousse pas l'herbe" (Grass does not grow on a volcano).

Such bon mots were indications of his love of languages. He could quote from Homer, taught himself Chinese and was in the habit of frequenting Soho's Chinatown, where he could display his knowledge - although, typically, he chose Chinese above Japanese because the textbooks were cheaper. With the onset of old age he was increasingly worried about losing his memory, given that his father and brother had both developed Alzheimer's disease. It was a fear that was to be tragically fulfilled. He retired from the stage at the age of 82.

Cutler seemed to live by the epigrams he wrote, particularly "Imperfection is an end; perfection is only an aim," as well as his belief that art was therapy. As a creator of work that was bizarre, unique, sinister, bleak, funny, touching - and sometimes achingly moving - it proved to be therapeutic as much for his fans as for its creator. He is survived by his sons.

· Ivor Cutler, poet, songwriter and performer, born January 15 1923; died March 3 2006

05 marzo 2006

Un altro grande ci ha lasciato. Ivor Cutler, personalità straordinaria e irripetibile nel panorama letterario musicale e culturale del Regno Unito, è morto l'altro ieri a Londra in seguito all'infarto che lo aveva colpito la scorsa settimana.
Messaggi di ricordo e di commiato vengono pubblicati in queste ore un po' ovunque. Si può vedere in particolare il gruppo di discussione a lui dedicato: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ivor-list
Strano solo che la BBC - nei cui studi Cutler ha registrato per decenni molte delle sue proverbiali session, pochissime delle quali poi riprese nella discografia ufficiale - non ne abbia ancora fatto cenno.
Riporto qui i primi commenti:
We are very sorry to announce that Ivor Cutler died peacefully in London last Friday. He'd been ill for a while: he had a stroke last week, and passed away quickly, looked after by his family.
His funeral will be for family and close friends; a memorial event is being planned for later in the year.
Poet, singer, writer, composer, humourist and painter, Mr Cutler, as he liked to be known by those he didn't know him well, touched and changed the lives of many people and elicited great affection from his audiences and pupils. He will be remembered with great fondness.
E Wikipedia pubblica:
Ivor Cutler (15 January 1923 – 3 March 2006) was a Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist. Originally a teacher, he taught at A. S. Neill's Summerhill School. He appeared as Buster Bloodvessel in The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, on Neil Innes' television programmes and on John Peel's influential BBC radio programme, for which he recorded a total of twenty-one sessions between 1969 and 1991. In live performances he would accompany himself on a harmonium. Cutler died on 3 March 2006, following a stroke the previous week.

Many of his poems and songs involve conversations delivered as a monologue and, in these, one party is often Cutler as a child. The humour develops from the child's curiosity and the playful or self-serving lies the parent tells him to get, for example, a chore done or simply to stop the incessant questions. Phyllis April King appears on several albums and used to be a part of his concerts. She usually read small phrases but also read a few stories. The two also starred in a BBC Radio series, King Cutler, in which they performed their material jointly and singly. Cutler recited his poems in a gentle burr and this, combined with the absurdity of the subject matter, is a mix that earned him a faithful, if small, following.