Letter: Tony Oxley the experimenter

The break-up of the Joseph Holbrooke Trio did not happen shortly after accompanying Lee Konitz on tour in March 1966, as the very good obituary of my friend Tony Oxley had it originally. In fact it came in November that year when we performed three times on the same Saturday: lunchtime, as usual, in Sheffield; in a Northampton art gallery in the afternoon; and at the Little Theatre Club in central London. That night I put my bass in its case and didn’t play it again for 17 years.

I didn’t see Tony again for 32 years, until we were reunited in Germany for his 60th birthday concerts. Even with no rehearsal, or even conversation about the music, our performance was strangely uncomfortable but enjoyable, and after that we played more – at the Barbican memorial concert for the guitarist Derek Bailey, the other member of the original trio, organised by John Zorn for example – and Tony and his wife, Tutta, would come to performances of my operas in Germany.

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