a Tribute by Chrissie Murray – News, reviews, articles and commentary from the London jazz scene and beyond

Chrissie murray

remembers Anthony Wood, the pioneering champion of improvised music who tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident on September 15, 2021, at the age of 72.

Antoine Bois. Photo courtesy of Camping Biker YouTube channelAntoine Bois , inspiring promoter of improvised music, founder of a revolutionary magazineThread

, was a man on a mission in 1979 – his goal was to reach unexplored heights, which even in the late 1970s was often dismissed bluntly as “chin-hitting music”.

Anthony paved the way for this revolutionary music “in the moment” and in doing so helped shine a light on the talented musicians who performed it … and Anthony’s passionate speeches in defense of this difficult genre would leave even the most hardened of music. critics shaken and bruised, but certainly better informed.

Anthony Wood was born in Germany to English parents, but came of age in the late 1960s in a suburb of Ashford, Kent. His first job, which he hated, was a soul-destroying office job at Schott’s Music, where he felt misunderstood and unsuitable.

Escape was offered as the bubbly British Blues Explosion of the 1960s. Anthony became Alexis Korner’s biggest fan and friend, and persuaded the influential “Father of British Blues” to document his fascinating musical journey in interviews, which Anthony lovingly recorded on a bulky reel tape recorder.

Meanwhile, Anthony’s vinyl record collection is growing … and growing, from Blues Incorporated, Cyril Davies and the Graham Bond Organization to jazz heavyweights: Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy , Anthony Braxton et al. In 1975, John Clare and Dave Ryner of the Honest Jon Record Store recognized Anthony’s infinite oneness with the sharp end of music and asked him to join them as a specialist in avant-garde music. . This job was perfect.

Despite his passion for the “serious” end of music, Anthony was not a purist and ranked Prince and Martha Wainwright among his favorite artists. Seeing Lady Gaga currently decorating the site of a magazine like Jazz Journal would have made him laugh out loud and he would have loved the hat.

The first person Anthony knew when he moved to London at the end of 1978 was guitarist John Russell (also recently sadly deceased). Anthony had a letter published in Melody Maker complaining about the lack of coverage of improvised music. As a result, a mutual friend put John and Anthony in touch, as they were both from Ashford. John hosted Anthony for nine months. Anthony said living with a musician gave him “a different outlook on the music he listened to.” In 1979, John convinced Anthony to start promoting. “Without this time spent with John,” said Anthony, “there wouldn’t have been any real music…”.

The events of Anthony’s Actual Music created a historic opportunity (and a discerning audience) for the avant-garde giants of the time: Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Abdullah Ibrahim et al .. contemporary British experimenters. That same year, Anthony, John Russell and percussionist Roger Turner launched the critically acclaimed but sadly short-lived independent label CAW.In 1982, Anthony announced his most ambitious project to date: he was to launch a “jazz magazine”. It would be called “The Wire: Jazz, improvised music and…

“I listened, incredulous, but enthralled, as he enthusiastically described this“ crazy ”prospect, and was the first to enlist.

Anthony initially funded the magazine himself, producing it with the help of a group of committed music-loving friends who worked for free. He crafted a professional ‘business plan’ that impressed the Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Arts Council enough to shell out £ 2,000 each in grants. As Anthony grew more and more into debt, his friend Leo Feigin (the boss of the label Leo Records) also paid a substantial sum at one point. The creation of Thread was a daring, adventurous and enduring moment in music. Even when Thread

joined Naim Attallah’s prestigious Namara group in 1984, it was a struggle to keep such an “outraged” magazine operational. It was difficult to build and expand our readership, especially since WHSmith outlets, for some strange reason, refused to sell a magazine with a circulation of less than 100,000 copies. Anthony had to loseThread

, his beloved and hard-earned trophy, the following year when he suffered what I can only describe as a brutal “coup”. Anthony never fully recovered from this devastating experience. He was completely broke: his apartment was taken over and he cut himself off from everyone and collapsed in his shabby Farm Lane office. Gradually, things improved: he embarked on a brilliant career in market research, a field that valued his likeable and compelling personality and rewarded his ease of communication.

A lifelong “biker” Anthony has recently ridden a lot on his custom BMW superbike, his first love. Now in his third age and enjoying a new life, he was still restless, still wanting to “get off this island”, planning his next bike ride to the back of the afterlife. I asked him once why he insisted on heading to the “terrorist hot spots of the world”? What was the attraction? ‘… Anthony gave me a wry smile and replied emphatically:’ Adventure, Chrissie! ‘.

Anthony was now also contributing beautifully written articles for cycling magazines documenting his adventures on the road and had become totally engrossed in building a website for senior bikers.As recently as August 2021, Anthony was recorded for posterity in an interview with the Camping Biker channel on You Tube (CONNECT

). He was reporting on how UK biker cafes had survived the lockdown and could be heard enthusiastically enthusiastic about his life on the fast lane. In view of recent tragic events, this makes for a poignant viewing. Anthony was, indeed, a long-standing pioneer… through Actual Music and his bravery in creation. Thread

(still in publication), Anthony Wood’s place in music endures because, just like music, for Anthony there were no limits. For his unique outlook on life, he is simply irreplaceable.

In early 2020, as clouds gather across the world and national incarceration looms, and I rise up against it, Anthony, a tough and fast “European” shared a rare moment. philosophical of revealing enlightenment… prophetically, his words stand as the perfect epitaph.

Anthony wrote: “There are too many walls erected, physical by governments, physiological by individuals, both trying to maintain the illusion of perceived past greatness or racial purity. All intended to rule out people or ideas. Bridges, on the other hand, bridge gaps, cross divisions, bring people and ideas together. Despite the dangers of falling, I would rather be on a bridge than behind a wall.

Antoine Bois. Photo courtesy of Camping Biker YouTube channel

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