Functional Improvisation, 2017
by Terry Day and Marcus Coates
Performance at William Morris Museum, London
Commissioned by Create, London
Audience members were invited to bring to the performance a question they have struggled to answer for themselves. Using improvised percussion by Terry Day and movement and vocalisation by Marcus Coates, they worked together to create a combined language that aimed to respond pragmatically to these questions. Their use of improvised performance as a socially functional tool is an attempt to employ their disciplines as complex and purposeful modes of expression. The forms of performance that they inhabit offers them a route to non-conscious understanding through physical activity and play, a method that expands the possibilities of creative thinking, bringing thought into the realm of movement and sound making. Their aim is to work for the audience, to create performances that are insightful, offering new reflections on the questions and possible answers.
Why is the world so angry?
What is good enough?
How do we find certainty, or do we?
Should art always be actively challenging?
Terry Day is an improviser, multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, songwriter, visual artist and poet. He is a ‘first generation’ pioneer improviser from the 1960s. A self-taught musician in a family of musicians, he began improvising on the drums with his brother in 1955. In the early 1960s he formed the Hardy Holman Day trio focusing on free improvisation. Later he became part of Kilburn & the Highroads, a band led by Ian Dury. Sharing their interest in visual art and painting, Terry and Ian both studied at Walthamstow School of Art and later at the Royal College of Art, London. As an art student in the 1960s he was a pioneer of improvisation, free jazz & experimental music. Day also formed a duo with Derek Bailey in the late 1960s and was a regular member of The Continuous Music Ensemble, later known as The People Band. Since then he has collaborated with many musical luminaries, groups, dancers, painters, poets and performed in theatre, events, and rock & roll. Some of his musical partners include Derek Bailey, Steve Beresford, Phil Minton, Evan Parker, Charlotte Hug, John Russell, Rhodri Davis, Misha Mengelberg, Tony Oxley, Marten Altena, Phil Wachsman and John Tchikai.