Alex Ward was born in 1974. He is a composer, improviser, and performing musician. His primary instruments are clarinet and guitar, and he has also performed in public and on recordings on alto sax, piano/keyboards, bass guitar, and as a vocalist. He was based in Oxford from 1992-2000, and since then has lived in London.
His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. As an improviser, he was initially principally a clarinettist (sometimes also playing alto sax), but since 2000 he has also been active as an improvising guitarist. On both instruments, hIs longest-standing collaborations in this field have been with the drummer Steve Noble.
From 1993 to 2001, most of his activity as a composer took place in collaboration with Benjamin Hervé, mainly in the context of the rock band Camp Blackfoot. From 2002-2005, his writing was mostly done solo, and was primarily focused on songs. Since 2006, he has been heavily involved in both solo and collaborative composition, predominantly (though not exclusively) of instrumental music. Much of his writing and performing during this time has been done with Dead Days Beyond Help, a duo with drummer Jem Doulton. He also currently leads a number of bands including Predicate, Forebrace, The Alex Ward Quintet/Sextet, and Alex Ward & The Dead Ends.
He has been a member of many other groups including ensembles led by Eugene Chadbourne, Simon H. Fell and Duck Baker, and has also done various work as a session musician and in collaboration with other media. Since 2005, he has co-run the label Copepod Records with composer/performer Luke Barlow. He does the recording, mixing and/or mastering of most of his own music, and for many of the groups he plays in.
For more detailed information on Alex's bands/projects, go here.
TIMELINE OF NOTABLE EVENTS:
1986: Begins recording overdubbed solo music at home, using clarinet, piano, acoustic guitar and percussion. Attends Community Music summer course in improvisation, where he meets Derek Bailey.
1987: Performs with Derek Bailey's Company in Sheffield, and joins Brian Parson's experimental collective Aware. Takes up alto sax.
1988: Performs at Derek Bailey's Company Week at the ICA, London.
1989: Performs as member of Company at Glasgow Jazz Festival and on "Music In Our Time" Radio 3 broadcast. Takes up electric guitar, and continues recording overdubbed solo music, now on 4-track.
1990: Performs at Company Week at the Place Theatre, London, and in duo with Derek Bailey in Den Haag, Holland.
1991: Debut album "Ya Boo, Reel & Rumble" (duo with Steve Noble) released on Incus Records.
1992: Moves to Oxford to study music. Performs at various Company events in London.
1993: Becomes involved in the Oxford improvised music scene, playing with Pat Thomas, Pete McPhail, Tim HIll, Nick Couldry, Mark Browne, Evan Thomas, Jim Denley and many others. Forms the XIII Ghosts with Benjamin Hervé (a.k.a. Switch).
1994: Performs at the final Company Week in London, and in Rome as a duo with Derek Bailey. Continued work with a range of Oxford-based improvisers.
1995: Creates electro-acoustic composition "Comminate The Upstart" (submitted as part of final examination for BA in Music.) "Giganti Reptilicus Destructo Beam" by the XIII Ghosts released on Scatter.
1996: XIII Ghosts record "Legend Of The Blood Yeti" with Derek Bailey and Thurston Moore. Camp Blackfoot is formed.
1997: Performs as member of Eugene Chadbourne's Hellington Country at the Taktlos festival and subsequent tour of Holland. Tours UK as member of Butch Morris' London Skyscraper. Joins Nøught. Camp Blackfoot play regular gigs around Oxford.
1998: Tour of Canada with Eugene Chadbourne and Pat Thomas. Leaves Nøught, but continues to work with them on their debut album (released in 2000). Camp Blackfoot continue to play in Oxford and London, and start recording debut album.
1999: Performs at Nickelsdorf festival with Eugene Chadbourne's Hellington Country. Camp Blackfoot release "Critical Seed vs. The Spartan Society" and tour France and Italy.
2000: Moves to London. Duo album with Derek Bailey "LOCationAL" released on Incus. Noble/Edwards/Ward (later N.E.W.) record debut album "False Face Society".
2001: Leaves Camp Blackfoot. Jazz On 3 radio session and UK tour with Simon H. Fell's SFQ. Joins Pocket (led by John Bisset) who record their debut album at the end of the year.
2002: Starts work on first solo album "Hapless Days". Quintet of AW/Derek Bailey/Tony Bevan/T.H.F. Drenching/Sonic Pleasure performs in Northampton, and records "Limescale" album at end of year.
2003: SFQ records its second Jazz On 3 session. Launch gig for Limescale album at Boat-Ting in London.
2004: Finishes "Hapless Days", forms Alex Ward & The Dead Ends, and writes songs for album "Snares And Delusions". Takes part in "Jelly Rolls On" concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall with Han Bennink, Mary Oliver and Ian Pace, performing music by Mike Westbrook, Philip Clark, Michael Finnissy and Matthew Bourne.
2005: Starts label Copepod Records with Luke Barlow. First 3 releases on Copepod: "Hapless Days" by AW, "Help Point" by Ward/Barlow/Fell/Noble, and Luke Barlow Band debut album. Simon H. Fell album "Composition No. 62", a "quasi-concerto" featuring AW in soloist role, released on Bruce's Fingers.
2006: Performs at Nickelsdorf festival with Pat Thomas's The Locals (playing the music of Anthony Braxton). Performances with Springheel Jack in Bern and Paris. Forms Dead Days Beyond Help with Jem Doulton.
2007: Dead Days Beyond Help perform around London and record debut album "Access Denied!". Performs in Simon H. Fell's "Composition No. 75 - Positions And Descriptions" at Huddersfield Comtemporary Music Festival (subsequently broadcast on Jazz On 3). Performances in Belgium with Springheel Jack and Luke Barlow Band (plus string quartet), and with Luke Barlow Band at opening night of London Jazz Festival (broadcast live on Jazz On 3).
2008: Solo clarinet album "Cremated Thoughts" released on Treader. N.E.W release "Deadeye Tricksters" and perform at On The Outside festival in Newcastle. Barkingside release debut album and tour the UK. Jazz on 3 radio session with Gannets.
2009: Performs at Victoriaville Festival with Joe Morris and Simon Fell. N.E.W. perform in Barcelona with Agusti Fernandez, in London with Joe McPhee and at Le Weekend, Stirling. UK tours with Duck Baker Trio and Gannets. "Access Denied!" by Dead Days Beyond Help released on Copepod. God's Mama record debut album.
2010: Tour of Italy (including Venice Jazz Festival) with Duck Baker Trio. N.E.W. perform in Paris and at the Music Unlimited festival in Wels. Dead Days Beyond Help complete second album of composed material "The Game Face". Predicate play first gig in February and record debut album in September.
2011: Dead Days Beyond Help improvised album "The Verbing" released on Copepod. AW/Weasel Walter UK tour in summer, during which WW/AW/James Sedwards trio records "Deadly Orgone Radiation" album. UK tour with Weavels in October. Duo albums with Kay Grant and Lol Coxhill released.
2012: Predicate release debut album on FMR in February, and tour the UK in April and May. Second album "Nails" recorded in mid-tour. Dead Days Beyond Help release "The Game Face" at the end of the year, and record basic tracks for the follow-up. Development of DDBH/SignDance Collective collaborative shows "Half A Penny" and "The Other Side Of The Coin". Steve Noble/Alex Ward duo performs in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
2013: Dead Days Beyond Help complete third album of composed material "Severance Pay". Dag Erik Knedal Andersen/Dominic Lash/AW trio tour Norway and UK. Mopomoso UK tour in April, featuring Kay Grant/AW duo. Alex Ward Quintet premieres 45-minute composition "Glass Shelves And Floor" in August. Debut album by Forebrace "Bad Folds" released on Copepod in October, and Predicate second album "Nails" released on Gaffer Records in November.
2014: "Motion" by N.E.W. released on Dancing Wayang records in April. "Severance Pay" by Dead Days Beyond Help released on Believers Roast records in May. Performances as member of Wayne Horvitz European Orchestra at Novara Jazz, at Angelica Festival in Bologna and at Bimhuis 40th Anniversary Festival. Trio with Thurston Moore and Adam Golebiewski perform at Festival Kody in Lublin, Poland. Predicate 3-date mini-tour of UK in March/April, and debut performances of Alex Ward Sextet at Vortex and Cafe Oto in London. Alex Ward Quintet records "Glass Shelves And Floor" album.