The SLIE (pronounced ‘sly’) is a group of Midlands based musicians dedicated to the study, art and practice of music free improvisation: a style which, some say, is born from free jazz; others would argue that it is simply music performed in it’s most natural form, as the first music had to have been improvised. They would say that they tend toward the latter. Their name is more parochial than it is pompous – The South Leicestershire ‘Improvisors’ Ensemble are named with a deliberate ‘o’ to finish, in respect of their two American born players.

As its basis, music free improvisation is a performance-based style which has no predetermined genre, composition, key, melody or tempo: it is manifested from the imaginations and reactions of the person or persons playing it. Got it? This can be a tricky concept to envisage for some, but picturing a conversation in a similar way can help: we listen, and we respond; several conversations can occur simultaneously – or perhaps there is only one person speaking, or there might be silence.

The group meet every first Thursday of the month at Quad Studios in Leicester and features different guest artists each month – which pulls the group in a fresh direction at every sitting. Music starts spontaneously once everyone is set up. Just find a space on one of the studio’s ample sofas, open up a beer and watch the story unfold in front of you.

The regular core of players includes Lee Boyd Allatson (drum set), Virginia Anderson (clarinets), Bruce Coates (saxophones), Christopher Hobbs (piano and small instruments), Trevor Lines (bass), Rick Nance (flugelhorn) plus our newest recruit, Peter Wyeth (guitar).

The ‘All In’ sessions are an end of year get together, where all of our special guest players from previous events are invited to join in an ‘improvisers orchestra’ format. 2016’s event saw 13 players, but this year looks set to top that with 20 confirmed so far.

2017 has been a great year for the SLIE with performances at the Attenborough Arts Centre and John Russell’s Discovery festival in Walthamstow. A recording made at the latter of these will be released on John’s Weekertoft label next year.

The South Leicestershire Improvisors Ensemble ‘All In 2017’ will be held on Thursday 7th December, at Quad Studios. Admission is free, music starts at 8.15pm and the event is BYOB.

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Chris is a Sparrow.

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