Born: November 2, 1940 Primary Instrument: Vocal
When he was 15, Phil Minton started trumpet lessons in his home town and then, between 1959 and 1961 played with the Brian Waldron Quintet, the resident group at Torquay Town Hall supporting such acts as the Ted Heath Orchestra and B Bumble and the Stingers. On moving to London he played trumpet and sang with the Mike Westbrook Orchestra but in 1964 /65 undertook a residency in Los Palmas, Canary Islands, singing and playing trumpet with the English group Jonston Macphilbry. From 1966 he lived in Sweden for five years. On returning to London in 1971, Phil Minton re-joined Mike Westbrook and was involved in many of his projects up to 1990, touring extensively in Europe and playing at major festivals including Adelaide, Edinburgh, New York, Strasbourg and Berlin. In 1974 Phil Minton began working with experimental theatre groups such as Welfare State and IOU, formed the vocal group Voice with Maggie Nicols and Julie Tippetts in 1975, and from 1976 through the early 1980s he worked solo and in a number of improvising duos with Fred Frith, Roger Turner, Peter Brötzmann and with Günter Christmann's Vario project, touring extensively in Europe and to Russia, the USA and Australia. The improvising duos continued throughout the '80s with a variety of partners and this was mixed with more 'multi-media' work such as Konran Boermer's opera 'Apocalipsis cum figuris', Lindsay Cooper's 'Oh Moscow', Mike Figgis' theatre productions and Sally Potter's film 'Gold', as well as frequent guest appearances with European groups and orchestras. In 1988 Phil Minton was voted best Male Singer in Europe by International Jazz Forum.
Veryan Weston and Phil Minton began their collaboration in 1987 and were commissioned by the Le Mans Festival in 1989 to write and perform Songs from a prison diary, a composition based on the prison writings of Ho Chi Minh for 22 voices. The work was premiered in 1990 and performed at Musica '91 in Strasbourg and awarded the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize. Further work with Veryan Weston has included Naming the animals with Adrian Mitchell [recorded on Ways past]and, in 1992, Mahkno, a piece for eight voices commissioned by the Taklos Festival, Switzerland. The two musicians regularly play as a duo, including a performance at the Victoriaville Festival in Canada in 1995, and they received a commission from the Angelica Festival in Bologna, Italy which resulted in Past.
Minton continues to work in a wide variety of situations and over the past few years these have included guest appearances with the Georg Graewe's GrubenKlangOrchester, Trio Raphiphi with Radu Malfatti and Phil Wachsmann, a trio with John Butcher and Erhard Hirt, Axon, a trio with Marcio Mattos and Martin Blume, Derek Bailey's Company, and Tony Oxley's Celebration Orchestra (including the performance to celebrate Oxley's 60th birthday in 1998. In 1993 he received an Arts Council Bursary for river run, a composition for voice, piano, percussion and reed instruments inspired by the works of James Joyce. This group, the Phil Minton Quartet or, alternatively, 'river run', has turned into a (moderately) regularly performing ensemble with Veryan Weston, Roger Turner and John Butcher. The Quartet toured Europe in 1996, appeared at the Victoriaville Festival in 1997, touring Germany the same year, undertook an Arts Council- supported tour of the UK in 1998 and appeared at the Vand'Oeurve Festival, and in 1999 played concerts in the US.
In 1994, Phil Minton began the 'Feral Choir' project in Stockholm and Berlin and the 'Giving Voice' Festival in Cardiff, a series of workshops and rehearsals of compositions specially written for participating performers. In the same year he also toured the US with Bob Ostertag's electronic piece, Say no more. This started life as separate improvisations recorded independently and with no external guidance by Minton, Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway (with Joey Barron also in at the beginning, subsequently dropping out). Bob Ostertag then used an Ensoniq EPS16+ sampler and a Digidesign Protools Recording system to explode these solos into fragments and create a band piece from the splinters. This was recorded as Say no more. Ostertag then created a score of the compositions he had created on computer and gave this together with the computer-generated recording back to the musicians asking them to learn their parts for live performance. These parts were rehearsed and toured and formed the second CD, Say no more in person. The third stage - released as Verbatim - consists of the live tapes further exploded and reformed by Ostertag in his computer; the final version consisted of live interpretations of these secondary splinters and was premiered at the Taktlos Festival in Switzerland in March 1996, and appeared as Verbatim, flesh and blood. Phil Minton and Bob Ostertag also performed in duo in London in September 1996, a fragment of which has been released on a compilation Resonance CD. They also toured Verbatim the same year and undertook European and Japanese tours in 1998.
In 1995 Minton appeared at the 'Voices of the world' festival in Copenhagen with Roger Turner and went on a European tour with Tom Cora. The association with Cora evolved through 1996 with a tour and recording of the quartet Roof (Minton, Cora, Luc Ex, Michael Vatcher), into 1997 and 1998 through further quartet tours, ending with Cora's untimely death. Since then, Veryan Weston has made up the quartet, now called 4 Walls and they toured in Europe in 1999.
Radio broadcasts continue apace, particularly in contintental Europe; for example, in 1996 a portrait of Minton's work was created by Grace Yoon for SWF and SFB in Germany. He also continues to appear in less freely-improvised musical surroundings such as taking lead vocal in Carla Bley's revival of Escalator over the hill at the Köln Festival in 1997 then taking this on a European tour the following year, appearing in Franz Koglmann's composition O moon my pin-up in 1997, and the revival of Blake's Bright as fire with Mike Westbrook in 1996 and 1997. The mid-1990s onward have seen him as a moderately frequent visitor to Russian and Eastern European countries: a 1994 appearance at the Urals New Jazz Festival, a tour of Lapland with Roger Turner and Arne Forsen in 1995 plus an appearance at the Vocal Jazz Festival Novosibirsk in Siberia, and in 1999 a short solo tour of Russia taking in Leningrad, Moscow and Krasnoyarsk. He also tours Japan, including a 1998 tour with Sabu Toyozumi and other Japanese musicians and vocal workshops in Tokyo.