Listening and Improvisation : Caroline Kraabel [PAST]

Talk :

27 January 2024 Saturday 2-3:30pm

£5 | 12 places only | Please email for tickets

A talk by experienced improviser Caroline Kraabel

Exploring her own practice, along with a wider view of improvisation and identity: even the world of freely improvised music can be experienced as an enclave that excludes, despite the perceived association of improvisation with limitlessness and freedom.

How do people who improvise feel and think DIFFERENTLY from each other on the subject? How do we avoid or alter any dominance of particular groups over the theory or practice of improvisation? Does the experimental nature of improvisation make it easier for members of élites to shine in the field, because they have more pre-existing socio-cultural capital? Or, does improvisation come more easily for outsiders who are already primed to find alternative paths? How are improvisers affected by their musical and cultural histories? How does a group, maybe a large group, of improvisers negotiate space and time, noise and silence in a musical and just way?

For improvisers who have experienced forms of oppression in music making and/or life, is the aim when making music merely to recapitulate existing power structures, but try to place themselves at the top? Or to create new and fairer structures?

References: Gittin’ To Know Y’all: Improvised Music, Interculturalism, and the Racial Imagination, by George E. Lewis, Columbia University

Naked Intimacy: Eroticism, Improvisation, and Gender, by Ellen Waterman, University of Guelph

Caroline Kraabel is a London-based improviser, saxophonist, artist, conductor, and composer.

In 2022 Kraabel founded a large improvising group made up of all sorts of women, non-binary, and transgender improvisers: ONe_Orchestra New.  (

Other active groups: a duo with cellist Khabat Abas (; the Transitions Trio (with Charlotte Hug and Maggie Nicols, new CD release: On Dizziness; the OTO-Moers Quartet, with Bex Burch, Simon Camatta and Raïssa Mehner; Fit To Burst, a song-based trio with Sarah Washington and John Edwards (; a duo with Pat Thomas (CD release, whats wrong, August 2023); and the Poetry Quintet with Rowland Sutherland, John Edwards and Sofia Vaisman-Maturana, which incorporates live poetry from guest poets, including Moor Mother.

Kraabel has performed and recorded with improvisers including Robert Wyatt, Louis Moholo, Cleveland Watkiss, Hyelim Kim, Annie Lewandowski, Susan Alcorn, Veryan Weston, Mariá Portugal, Neil Metcalfe, Mark Sanders, Crystabel Riley, Charlotte Keeffe, Alex Ward, Cath Roberts, Dee Byrne, Damsel Elysium, Max Reed, Daniel Thompson, and Chris Corsano.

Photo by Graham Turner