John Greaves, Welsh born in 1950, is a legendary figure in the international avant / prog scene and in what is called the Canterbury School. Founder of Henry Cow with whom he plays the role of bassist, pianist and composer, he leaves the band to join Peter Blegvad of Slapp Happy and Lisa Herman, in New York, and publish the masterpiece Kew. Rhone. in 1976. His phenomenal career leads him to legendary collaborations among which the association with Robert Wyatt, National Health, Soft Heap, Elton Dean Band, Mike Oldfield, Brian Eno, David Cunningham, Michael Nyman, Carla Bley, Michael Mantler, Jack Bruce, Link Wray, Fred Frith, Pip Pyle, The Lodge with Jakko Jakszyk, David Thomas and many more including the recent collaboration with the North Sea Radio Orchestra in the Folly Bololey project and with the rising star of the avant/prog scene Annie Barbazza. Great critical success have had the song cycles written by Greaves based on the texts of poets such as Joyce, Verlaine, Thomas, Swinburne, Blegvad etc. Disc releases on the prestigious Harmonia Mundi, Manticore and Dark Companion labels. Songs where the melody leaves room for lyrics, sung in three languages (French, English and Italian). A tribute to Franco Battiato, who recently passed away, and to the great Italians such as Claudio Rocchi made cameos in a show that was rerun for 5 evenings at the Gare du Jazz in Paris and which opened the RIo Festival in Lyon, the most important music festival contemporary European, and which made its debut at the Café Oto in London, where Jonathan Coe, present among the public, wrote an enthusiastic critic. A show that, while touching the peaks of contemporary song, is pleasant to enjoy and has a great emotional impact.
Son of the bandleader of a dance orchestra, who passed on his passion for music, John Greaves was born in 1950 in Wales. He grew up in Wrexham, in the north-east of the country, and at the age of 12 he received a bass guitar as a gift; a few months later John joined his father's orchestra, where he played for the next four years, having the opportunity to try his hand at various musical styles. In the same years he also played in some local pop music groups. In 1967 he moved to study in the English university city of Cambridge, where in 1969 he joined the Henry Cow. The band had formed the previous year and within a few years would become one of the greatest exponents of British avant-progressive rock. In the first two years he reconciled musical activity with study, obtaining a university Master of Arts in 1971. He stayed until 1976 with Henry Cow, who toured with Greaves and released 5 albums. In 1974-1975, Henry Cow developed a close collaboration with Slapp Happy, which led to the release of the albums Desperate Straights and In Praise of Learning, attributed to both groups. It was at this time that the Henry Cow's political commitment and their refusal to compromise with the music industry led them to antagonize critics and to be ignored at home. Their publishing house Virgin Records also lost interest in Henry Cow, which from a small independent label pioneering experimental music had become in a few years a colossus mainly interested in more commercial music. Thus it was that the band placed itself outside the big show business seeking fortune in continental Europe, where it had major admirers; these choices would also have an influence on the band's upcoming music. The acquaintance of Peter Blegvad, American guitarist of Slapp Happy, had meanwhile marked a turning point in the career of Greaves, who left Henry Cow in 1976 and joined Blegvad in New York. In the American metropolis, the two joined the singer Lisa Herman and recorded Kew. Rhone., Credited to all three musicians. The album, released by Virgin, was recorded in the studios of Carla Bley and Michael Mantler, who were also part of the lineup. Upon returning to England, Greaves composed and arranged music for plays, also participating in some performances as an actor. In early 1978 he joined the National Health formation, contributing to the release of Of Queues and Cures, the band's second album, where he also played Blegvad as a guest. The group disbanded in 1980 without releasing any more records and would temporarily reunite at the end of 1981 to record the album D.S. Al Coda in memory of Alan Gowen, the band's keyboardist who died the previous May. While he was part of National Health, Greaves replaced Hugh Hopper in Soft Heap, composed by Elton Dean, Pip Pyle and Alan Gowen (replaced after 1981 by Mark Hewins), with this supergroup he performed in several European concerts in the eighties. Greaves' first solo album was Accident, released in 1983 by independent Europa Records. In 1984 he moved to Paris, where he formed a band with Kristoffer Blegvad (vocals), François Ovide (guitar), Denis Van Hecke (cello) and Mireille Bauer (percussion). With this lineup he released his second solo album, Parrot Fashion, released by Europe in 1985. In 1986 he took part in a short tour of the supergroup Michael Mantler Band, where Jack Bruce (Cream) and Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) also played. The partnership with Blegvad continued in 1987 in The Lodge project, on which the two had been working for some years. The group released the album Smell Of A Friend and disbanded at the end of 1989. The third solo album was La Petite Bouteille De Linge, recorded between 1989 and 1990 in Paris with François Ovide on guitar, Sophia Domancich on piano and Pip Pyle on drums. In the same period he recorded his first work with the irishman David Cunnigham, the eponymous album Greaves-Cunningham, released in Japan in 1991. In 1993 he formed, with the collaboration of Elton Dean and Pip Pyle, the first John Greaves Band, which he limited himself to a few live performances. The arrangement she made of some of her earlier songs was released on what is considered her masterpiece, the 1995 Songs album, where her admirer Robert Wyatt collaborated as a singer with whom she had collaborated in the past. Also in those years there were new collaborations with Blegvad and Cunningham. In 1997 she sang on Michael Mantler's new album The School Of Understanding. In 1998 she performed alone in some concerts in France and Japan, singing and accompanying herself with the piano. In May 2001, her album The Caretaker was released, which she had been preparing for three years, much more electric than the previous Songs. Around the same time he prepared an instrumental and a jazz album, On The Street Where You Live, which was released at the same time as The Caretaker. In 2002, Greaves formed the JazzSongs trio acoustic trio with Sophia Domancich and cellist Vincent Courtois. The album that recorded this lineup, The Trouble With Happiness, was released in 2003 by the prestigious Harmonia Mundi and was favorably received by critics. Among the numerous subsequent collaborations, it is worth mentioning the participation in 2003 in the concert Dedicated To You, a tribute to Robert Wyatt which took place in Charleville-Mézières in France. In 2004 Greaves released the acoustic album Chansons, sung in French by Elise Caron and enhanced by the new collaboration of Wyatt. In 2008, Greaves Verlaine was released, in which he set some poems by the 'cursed poet' Paul Verlaine to music. In 2011, the continuation of this tribute was released, the album Greaves Verlaine 2; in both of these works, Greaves sings and plays keyboards. In recent years he has participated in the Songs From The Beginning project, which elaborates classics of famous progressive rock groups, including King Crimson, Soft Machine, Henry Cow and Hatfield and the North. He is unanimously considered by critics to be a giant of world progressive. Currently he performs on the piano, with Annie Barbazza on second voice, or in a trio with Peter Blegvad and Annie Barbazza.
Annie Barbazza is the rising star of the international avant / prog scene. She began her career at a very young age as a drummer in a progressive band while she studied piano at the Nicolini Conservatory in Piacenza. Her talent is accidentally discovered by Greg Lake (King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer) who encourages her to deepen her vocal and compositional research and wants her on stage, just eighteen, alongside her together with Italian pro stars like Aldo Tagliapietra and Bernardo Lanzetti. Lake himself invents a show for her, Annie's Playlist, where the young multi-instrumentalist explores the classics of music that have played an important role in her artistic training: from the Beatles to Nick Drake, from King Crimson to the Residents through Brian Eno and Claudio Rocchi. The attendance of musicians / friends such as Lino Capra Vaccina, Keith Tippett, Fred Frith and Paolo Tofani 'diverted' her towards a much less conventional form of song. Such talent certainly does not go unnoticed and requests for collaboration begin: Eugenio Finardi often wants her live by his side and Annie finds herself opening concerts by Ian Paice, Peter Hammill, Strawbs and many others, while artists like Robyn Hitchock, Osanna, Giorgio Fico Piazza, Aldo Tagliapietra, John Greaves, Area and many others invite her to play live together. Just Paolo Tofani of Area invites her to sing Gioia e Revolution in their farewell concert. Greg Lake conceives the Moonchild project and produces the record for the historic Emerson Lake & Palmer label, Manticore Records. It is a minimal and contemporary reinterpretation of the historical and iconic pieces of ELP and King Crimson, arranged for piano and voice by Max Repetti, who performs on the piano. The record becomes an international success both from critics and audiences. John Greaves, the legendary founder of Henry Cow, wants Annie as the lead voice in Folly Bololey, a project where Craig Fortnam's North Sea Radio Orchestra revisits Robert Wyatt's legendary Rock Bottom under the benevolent aegis of the illustrious author. The work becomes one of the most important albums of 2019, becoming album of the year for many specialized magazines (Mojo and the influential The Wire). The ensemble closed the Rock In Opposition Festival in Lyon in May of the same year as headliners, triumphing a few months later in the live broadcast on Radio France in December of the same year. In 2020 he released his first solo album Vive which receives 5-star reviews around the world, while the authoritative English magazine Prog Magazine dedicates a large space to it calling it the revelation of the year: the King Crimson biographer, Sid Smith, compares the 'work in Lorca by Tim Buckley. A flood of authoritative critics including Ernesto Assante, Federico Guglielmi, Riccardo Bertoncelli and Gino Dal Soler write passionate reviews, and newspapers from La Repubblica to Libertà and La Stampa give space to the work, writing flattering pieces. Blow Up magazine awards it as the best record of the year. The disc is attended by musicians of the caliber of Daniel Lanois, Fred Frith, John Greaves, Greg Lake, Paul Roland, Lino Capra Vaccina, Paolo Tofani, Olivier Mellano, Michael Tanner and others. Today Annie is engaged on three different fronts, bringing her many projects to her lives: Vive sees Annie alone alternating with guitars and piano offering the music of her wonderful album along with some noble covers. John Greaves & Annie Barbazza duo: The Poet's Game, a refined show that has been successful in the trendiest theaters from the Gare du Jazz in Paris to the legendary Café Oto in London. Repertoire of the legendary Welsh musician and songs by Annie with particular attention to the musical transcriptions of Joyce, Thomas, Verlaine etc. Moonchild: Annie in duo with the pianist Max Repetti proposes the show produced by Greg Lake in which the songs by Emerson, Lake & Palmer and King Crimson are revisited in a contemporary key.