Reviews that mention Maggie Nicols

February 22, 2022

The Uncontainable Feeling of Freedom

Irène Schweizer - European Jazz and the Politics of Improvisation
By Christian Broecking

One of the most significant – if not the most significant – figure in Swiss improvised music, and crucially the first woman to make an impact on European free sounds, pianist Irène Schweizer has been sui generis for years. However, Schweizer, who recently celebrated her 80th birthday, would probably downplay all descriptions if her except as a Jazz and improvised music keyboardist and sometime drummer who has followed a unique and idiosyncratic route from the beginning. That’s because she’s a European who quickly transcended her original influences of American and South African Jazz. She’s a self-critical player who has still made many important albums She’s a loner who prefers to collaborate or play in groups. She’s a homebody who travelled the world for her art. She’s someone who prefers a settled, almost bourgeoise lifestyle, yet who has always operated in the midst of hedonistic bohemianism. She’s a politicized Feminist in a country which only allowed women to vote in 1971. Finally she has always been an out lesbian operating for years in a heterosexual sometimes misogamist Jazz atmosphere and one which had few queer women fans. MORE

April 22, 2019

Trio Blurb

Evil Rabbit Records ERR 27

Benjamin Finger/James Plotkin/Mia Zabelka


Karlrecords KR061

Moving between antithetical musical conceptualizations on these discs is Viennese violinist/vocalist Mia Zabelka who pursues these sorts of challenges regularly. For the string player, who has collaborated with musicians like Pauline Oliveros and Elliott Sharp, couldn’t have picked two more contrary trios in which to play. Trio Blurb, filled out by veteran British improvisers, guitarist John Russell and sound-singer Maggie Nicols, is the last word – or perhaps inflection would be more appropriate – in acoustic free improvisation. Contrarily Pleasure-Voltage is brazenly electronic, matching Zabelka, playing electric-violin, electronic devices and so-called alien objects, with input from Norwegian Benjamin Finger on synthesizers, piano, field recordings, electronic devices and more alien objects and American James Plotkin, with his output coming from guitar and granular synthesis. Zabelka’s background in modern notated music and non-Jazz improvisation serves her well in both situations. MORE

May 7, 2018

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

The Word for It Now
FMR CD 458-0817

Ensemble SuperMusique

Les Porteuses D’Ȏ

Ambiances Magnétiques AM 239 CD


Le Tombeau de Poulenc

Yolk Records J2069

The Dorf/N


Umland Records 53

Large Unit


PNL Records PNL 038

Something in the Air: Rethinking the Large Ensemble

By Ken Waxman

Just as definitions of various forms of music has changed over the decades, so has the interpretation of what exactly constitutes a large jazz or improvised music orchestra. Sure there are still plenty of bands that stick to the popular Ellington-Basie mode with a fixed number of players and tunes. But that’s longer the norm. As music becomes more open and global, orchestral and so-called exotic instruments beef up the sections; a pre-determined number of players in each section is ignored and the use of electric instruments and electronics has soared. Equally outstanding in execution, here are some instances of how uniquely constituted large ensembles operate. MORE

October 11, 2017

Joëlle Léandre

A Woman’s Work…
NotTwo MW950-2

Ivo Perelman/Matthew Shipp

The Art of Perelman-Shipp

Leo Records CD LR 794-799 and 786

Something in the Air: Music Appreciation as a Single Serving or Throughout Several Meals

By Ken Waxman

Marketing considerations aside, how best can a musician mark an important milestone or significant creativity? With recorded music the result is usually multiple discs. In honor of French bassist Joëlle Léandre’s recent 60th birthday for instance, there’s A Woman’s Work … (NotTwo MW950-2), an eight-disc boxed set. Almost six hours of music, the 42 tracks were recorded between 2006 and 2016 with one solo disc and the others intense interaction with such associates as trumpeter Jean-Luc Cappozzo, tenor saxophonist Evan Parker, violist Mat Maneri, guitarist Fred Frith, percussionist Zlatko Kaučič, pianists Agustí Fernández or Irène Schweizer and vocalists Lauren Newton or Maggie Nicols. With improvisers from six different countries working alongside, the bassist’s charm, humor, vigor and adaptability are highlighted. MORE

January 6, 2013

Festival Report

Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival 5
By Ken Waxman

Brawny and gritty, Glasgow, Scotland`s largest city has been a shipbuilding, trading and manufacturing powerhouse since the Industrial Revolution. At the same time the grey northern port has had a long-established aesthetic side, characterized by the often imitated Arts and Crafts movement designs and structures of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928).

This blend of power and passion was reflected November 29 to December 1 as the city’s 24-member Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (GIO) celebrated its 10th anniversary and 5th annual festival with performances at the city’s downtown Centre for Contemporary Art by the whole band and various subsets; other Scottish improvisers; and guests including inventive saxophonist Evan Parker, irrepressible vocalist Maggie Nicols and polymath George Lewis utilizing trombone and computer. MORE

September 13, 2006

Joëlle Léandre

At The Le Mans Jazz Festival
Leo CD LR 458/459

Versatile French bassist Joëlle Léandre can always be counted upon to be dependable in her contributions to any improvisation as well as flexible in her choice of musical partners.

Starting in the early 1980s, she has performed in Europe, Asia and North America, with improv masters, innovative Free players from different cultures and younger musicians who need more exposure. Recorded during one five-day period, this two-CD set showcases her playing in five different contexts with new and old collaborators and with predictably impressive results. MORE

August 24, 2000


Live at the Rhinefalls
Intakt CD 059

It seems almost anachronistic to have to say it in the first year of the 21st century, but the members of Les Diaboliques are some of the best improvising musicians on the planet -- regardless of race, height, nationality or gender.

However since male chauvinism and its obverse, separatist feminism, still exist, note that the performers on this CD are all women. A veritable European Community of talents, the band consists of Swiss pianist Schweizer who has been playing "outside" for more than 30 years; French bassist Léandre, acknowledged as one of the virtuosos of instrument in both jazz and so-called new music; and Scottish singer (and tap dancer) Nicols, who matches improv vocal gymnastics with an actor/comedian's split-second timing.