(This is the private promotional page for Alex Ward Item 4 at www.alexward.org.uk - all links shown above lead to the Alex Ward website. Please bookmark the current page for Item 4 materials.)

Item 4 is Alex Ward's latest ensemble to feature his compositions for improvisers. His previous work in this field with ensembles such as Predicate, Forebrace and the Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet has been described as "deft and utterly mesmeric" (Philip Clark, The Guardian review of Alex Ward Quintet "Glass Shelves And Floor"), "terrific... imbuing the formal rigour of systems music with the expressiveness and spontaneity of free improvisation" (Stewart Smith, The Quietus review of "Glass Shelves And Floor"), "blistering, no holds barred... the energy captured has that special spark of a great gig" (Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blog review of Forebrace "Steeped"), and "dynamic – and at times quite volatile... a keen realization of Ward’s belief in the role of composition as it relates to improvisation" (Troy Collins, Point Of Departure review of "Predicate").

Having worked as a sideman in ensembles led by Duck Baker, Eugene Chadbourne, Simon H. Fell, and Butch Morris amongst others, Ward has had a deep and varied first-hand experience of the various strategies that can be used to combine composition and improvisation, and everything he has learned in these contexts has gone on to inform his own work as bandleader. The context for this work is the rich and inspiring community of improvising musicians in the UK in which he has been involved for many decades, since his initial introduction to the scene as a participant in Derek Bailey's Company events. The members of Item 4 were all also involved in his large ensemble project Item 10, which brought together musicians from many generations of UK improvisation and whose album "Volition (Live At Cafe Oto)" was described in The Wire Magazine as "a rigorous intellectual exercise which also blows its head off... [an] ambitious work".

The New York-based label Relative Pitch will be releasing the debut album by Alex Ward Item 4, "Where We Were" (RPR 1105) in early 2020. The album was recorded in September 2018 at two performances in London, including one at the Dalston venue Set which received an enthusiastic review from the Free Jazz Blog website (read it here).

The music on the album (as is customary for Ward) covers a broad stylistic base, weaving intricate and often highly emotive composed themes into a freewheeling improvisatory landscape, which reveals a kinship with the extended energy curves of free jazz but also hints at the more avant-rock leanings of Ward's work in the duo Dead Days Beyond Help.

In addition to his work as bandleader and continued involvement in free improvisation with such musicians as Steve Noble, Evan Parker and Pat Thomas, Ward has also recently been active as a touring member of This Is Not This Heat, Thurston Moore's New Noise Guitar Explorations, and The Flying Luttenbachers. His debut solo guitar album, "Frames", will be released on Relative Pitch Records simultaneously with Item 4's "Where We Were".
ALEX WARD: clarinet / electric guitar
OTTO WILLBERG: double bass

Listen to the debut album by Alex Ward Item 4 "WHERE WE WERE" (Relative Pitch RPR 1105, to be released January 2020) below:

CHARLOTTE KEEFFE - charlottekeeffe.com
Charlotte Keeffe - "a whirlwind of extended techniques and tactile puzzles" (Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise) - has performed alongside the likes of John Edwards, Henry Lowther, Steve Noble, John Butcher, Steve Beresford and Mark Sanders. She is part of Martin Archer's Anthropology Ensemble, and her own quartet has been featured on JazzFM's Somethin' Else show and at the 2019 Lancaster Jazz Festival. She is a Board Member of the London Improvisers Orchestra and assisted guitarist John Russell with establishing the Mopomoso Workshop Group/MoWo. 

OTTO WILLBERG - ottowillberg.com
Otto's collaborators and accomplices include Hannah Marshall, Cath Roberts, Ashley Paul, Yoni Silver, Laurie Tompkins and more. In 2017 Otto toured Japan with Sam Andreae, David Birchall and Mio Ebisu, which included a performance with Toshimaru Nakamura. In 2018, HTrio (Willberg, Mark Hanslip and Andrew Cheetham) toured the UK with trumpeter Nate Wooley. He has released on Raw Tonk, Slip and Heavy Petting and has a solo disc coming on A New Wave Of Jazz. Otto is a participant of Sound and Music’s ’New Voices’ programme for 2019-2020. 

ANDREW LISLE - andrewlisle.com
Andrew Lisle - "one of the most original drummers in the UK” (Stewart Smith, The Quietus) - moved to London in 2013 after a period in Lisbon, Portugal where he spent much of his time at the Clean Feed Records' base of operations Trem Azul, and since then has performed and recorded with Colin Webster, John Edwards, John Dikeman, Dirk Serries, Alan Wilkinson, Matthew Bourne, Rachel Musson and Mark Sanders among many others. Some notable venues and festivals he has performed at include: Cafe OTO, Vortex, The Barbican, Jazz at the Lescar, Paradox (Tilburg), Parrazar (Bruge), Love Supreme Festival, and Incubate Festival.