Caroline Kraabel came to London from Seattle as a teenager, just too late to realise her punk dreams and instead discovering the saxophone, street performance and busking. There were ideas about freedom in the air, including the punk ideal of music as something anyone could do, which led to music in which one could, with application and inspiration, do anything: improvisation. London’s vibrant improvised music scene and its many great musicians gave Kraabel opportunities to explore extended techniques (especially the use of voice with the sax) and to spend time thinking about acoustics and the interactions of electricity and music: reproduction, synthesis, and their implications.
Caroline Kraabel is committed to improvisation as a way of living and working, making music in unexpected ways and places (Taking a Life for a Walk; Going Outside) but also composing and playing written music (Mass Producers and Saxophone Experiments in Space for large groups, and many pieces for smaller groups). She has worked with Anri Sala, Maggie Nicols, Andrea Zarza Canova, Evan Parker, Annie Lewandowski, John Tchicai, Cleveland Watkiss and Susan Alcorn, among many fine artists, and was a director of the London Musicians Collective, which created Resonance 104.4fm, London’s art radio station.
Caroline Kraabel has been playing with and conducting the
London Improvisers Orchestra for many years, exploring improvisation and conducted improvisation for large groups (up to 50 musicians).
© Giuseppe Tamponi
A 20-piece saxophone/voice orchestra, all women. Caroline Kraabel has made 4 long pieces for this group since 1998. Mass Producers has recorded one CD, Performances for Large Saxophone Ensemble 1 and 2, and one analogue (vinyl) LP, Performances for Large Saxophone Ensemble 3 and 4, featuring guest Maggie Nicols (voice).
A duo with pianist Veryan Weston. One CD, Five Shadows, of live concert recordings in acoustically interesting venues; many live performances.
This project went on for a couple of years. Phil Hargreaves (tenor and soprano sax, flute) and Caroline Kraabel recorded duos in a variety of very different-sounding spaces in Liverpool – a road tunnel under the Mersey, an anechoic chamber at the university, a huge dome, George’s Hall, etc. One CD, Where We Were, Shadows of Liverpool, where these recordings are crossfaded and intercut to become an acoustic portrait of Liverpool.
A solo performance work using: some live tape-recording of improvisations, subsequently to be re-improvised with; a giant sheet of newspaper; dance; songs; fake blood; 10 metres of red fabric; spoken poems and also improvised and composed solo saxophone/voice parts. Toured across Europe, Canada and the USA, released as a CD. This piece was a precursor to Mass Producers.