Black Top

Black Top

 London, England, GBR

Black Top’s Caribbean roots underpin a bold quest that unites the freedom of Sam Rivers’ NYC loft sessions with lo-fi technology which can unleash twisted, post dub, Afro-diasporic loops and samples. Their virtuoso, dynamic and purely improvised collaborations at the groundbreaking Café Oto have generated both critical acclaim and devoted new fans.


BLACK TOP: The Journey So Far
Black Top was initiated in the latter part of 2011 by Jazz Warrior and multi-instrumental Orphy Robinson and pianist / sound sculptor Pat Thomas. Conceived as a shape shifting ensemble, Black Top explores the intersection between live instruments and lo-fi technology. They combine twisted loops, samples, dub-effects that draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots and with the spirit of pure improvisation which is rooted in the free jazz experiments of NYC musicians like Sam Rivers. The result is always a journey that conjures evocative and dramatic soundscapes which mirror Black Tops expansive global world view.
The ensemble made its debut at Dalstons innovative and prestigious Caf Oto and in doing so found a regular home for their excursions. While Orphy and Pat throw around random phrases like Archaic Nubian Step Dub this meeting of musical minds is dedicated to developing working relationships with virtuoso musicians from across the cultural and generational spectrum who can match their own technical dexterity and handle the element of surprise.
In 2012 Black Top performed at The Gateshead Festival at the Sage and at the Jazzfestival Konfrontationen in Nikelsdorf, Austria where they ended up performing in their own right and with The Necks. They started the year with a dynamic set at Jez Nelsons (BBC Radio Jazz on 3) Jazz In The Round and then introduced varying combinations into the Cage Oto setting. From trio sets that included saxophonists Steve Williamson, Shabaka Hutchens and Jason Yarde, the ensemble began to expand embracing the vocals of Cleveland Watkiss, the flugel horn of Claude Deppa, the harmonica of a youthful Philip Achille (who they encountered busking on the tube) and the trumpet of Byron Wallen. The latter also appeared as part of Big Black Top a sextet which featured the words of Shake Keane and the drums of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari.

Future sound explorations will see Black Top uniting with violinist Satoko Fukuda, Nigerian vocalist Fumi Okiji, Caroline Kraabel (alto) and South African master drummer Louis Moholo. A two day residency, with guest musicians (inc. former Ornette Coleman bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma), is scheduled to take place at Caf Oto during this years London Jazz Festival.

Future Black Top Sessions:
April 2013: Cafe Oto - Black Top inc. SATOKO FUKUDA / violin + FUMI OKIJI / voice.
July 2913 : Cafe Oto: Black Top inc. Caroline Kraabel /alto sax + Phillip Achille /Harmonica
Sept 2013: Cafe Oto - Black Top (line up to be confirmed)
Nov 2013: London jazz Festival - Cafe Oto 2 day Residency feat Jamaaladeen Tacuma


HOT NEWS: Black Top will release a live album via Babel records in June. It was recorded at Jez Nelson's Jazz In The Round at the Cockpit Theatre and on the album Pat and Orphy are joined by special guest, stellar saxophonist Steve Williamson.

Steaming of live recordings from other concerts is imminent via soundcloud.

Set List

No set lists. All sets improvised.