Expect the Unexpected (part 1)

9th September 2021

Features Club Inegales

The unique recording process behind the forthcoming release from our partner label, Club Inégales, involved 22 guest musicians each providing one page of musical inspiration for the band to realise, which they were to do live, without any rehearsal. Peter Wiegold, musical director, tells us how these distinct scores translated into sound. 

For Expect the Unexpected, the late John Cumming (Director of the EFG London Jazz Festival) and I asked 22 jazz musicians to provide us with a ‘one-page’ score.

This is a concept I borrowed from a Canadian jazz/free improvisation band that I worked with. A ‘one-page’ score is a great challenge for a composer. They have to distil ideas so there is character and inspiration, but not close things off, leaving open doors. (I often remember the jazz pianist Liam Noble saying, ‘I just write enough to get the guys going’).

A wonderful variety of pieces emerged for Expect the Unexpected, from written instructions through to graphic scores and fully-fleshed grooves, melodies, and harmonies.

Of course, the realisation of the scores in crucial, seeking a distinct sound, clear roles for the musicians, contrast of sections and more. Here I drew together the unrehearsed performances by signalling sections and using signs to create roles such as  ‘loop’, 'solo’ and ‘return’. I was also playing myself, on keyboard, (Gil Evans used to say he ‘nudged’ his bands through his playing).

Here are two examples of the different scores we received, and how they translated into sound:

Byron Wallen The Carotid Canal

In the beginning of the performance, we first established the 5/4 groove, layer by layer, splendidly anchored by Joel Bell’s four guitar notes at the beginning of every bar. Then I signalled ‘solo’ to Byron and this incredible free flowing solo emerged…

Byron produced a conventional score, with three sections, but I added a fourth section, freezing the repetition of two of his chords to create the possibility of a still moment, and you can hear violinist Jackie Shave’s singing high improvisation over these harmonies.

Hyelim Kim In the boxes

Hyelim Kim based her score on a traditional Korean notation, but with her own graphics inside. It is read top to bottom and from right to left. The players were left to interpret the signs as they wished.

Focussing minds just before beginning a piece is crucial in any music, but especially when jumping straight into the unknown. (Jazz musicians like to say you can tell everything about a performance by the way the leader counts in 1 -  2  - 1-2-3-4). Here I set the feeling by singing what to me was typical Korean slow ¾ rhythm, counted 1-2-3 and we dived in. I do love the version of Korean rhythm here through all the crunchy, electronic noises and percussive effects.

Check out part 2 here 


To celebrate the release of Expect the Unexpected, you are invited to join a special livestream event at 8pm on 30 September, featuring conversations with Peter Wiegold, members of the Notes Inégales house band and several of guest artists. Sign up for free tickets here


Pre-order Expect the Unexpected now
Read more about the history of Club Inégales

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Notes Inégales: Expect the Unexpected

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