Alex Ward

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b. 1974, Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. Ward is an impressive clarinettist and alto saxophonist who demonstrates a remarkable maturity of musical thought. He first made his name while still at school,…
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b. 1974, Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. Ward is an impressive clarinettist and alto saxophonist who demonstrates a remarkable maturity of musical thought. He first made his name while still at school, when he earned a reputation as the enfant terrible of Grantham’s vibrant music scene. Notable from this period was the seminal one-off gig played by his much talked-about group, Commercial Suicide. He cites figures as diverse as Frank Zappa, Anthony Braxton and Olivier Messiaen among his influences. Ward followed his interest in improvisation under the guidance of Derek Bailey, performing with him at the 1988 Company season at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, where he produced thoughtful and well-crafted improvisations in a variety of contexts. In 1991, Ward recorded a duo album with Steve Noble for the Incus label. On moving to Oxford in 1992 to study music at Worcester College, Ward met electronics FX-meister The Switch (b. Benjamin Hervé), with whom he has been collaborating on an ongoing basis ever since.

As well as playing guitar with his rock project, Camp Blackfoot, Ward performed live as a member of innovative Oxford band Nought. Ward and The Switch’s exciting improvisation outfit, the XIII Ghosts, takes the form of a duo augmented by a number of guest musicians, who have included Bailey, Pat Thomas, Barbara Darling, Andrew Clare, and, for the Legend Of The Blood Yeti album, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Ward has continued to display his rare talent for intelligent and well-crafted improvisation in solo and group contexts, touring with Eugene Chadbourne in Europe (1997, from which an album was issued) and Canada (1998). He also took part in a Company session for BBC Radio 3’s Music In Our Time and appeared on Channel 4 television. In 1997 he toured the UK with Butch Morris’ Conduction project, which culminated in an impressive finale at the South Bank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.