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New Release early 2012


ECM have confirmed that the new Dowland Project album will be released next year.  We won’t know the actual date till September, but it’s likely to be sometime before April. This is particularly exciting news as it will bring together all the musicians who’ve played for the band, Stephen Stubbs, John Surman, Barry Guy,  Maya Homburger and Milos Valent.  It means we’ll be able to  perform in various permutations, depending on players’ availability (and promoters’ budgets), and we’re hoping that everyone will be in Europe in September 2012 so we can do concerts then (if you’re a promoter reading this, please contact Robert White Artist Management: RWhiteAM@aol.com).


This will be our fourth album, and as it’s so difficult to get everyone together, possibly our last. Unfortunately, we all now live in different countries (Steve Stubbs in the USA, John Surman in Norway, Milos Valent in Slovakia,  Barry Guy & Maya Homburger in Switzerland and I’m in York).  It’s been a wonderfully inspiring adventure, which began twelve years ago with Manfred Eicher’s famous response to my original suggestion of Dowland….’ah, but you don’t want to use any of those boring early music players, do you?’. To which I replied after only a nano-second’s hesitation ‘…er, no of course not.’ The first album didn’t have the name, we just called it Dowland. The original plan was to put my name on the front but I couldn’t agree to the other players not being there too, so I joined them on the back. We always referred to it as ‘the Dowland project’, so when the second album ‘ Care Charming Sleep’ came round, the name chose itself. But there’s no Dowland on it, some people pointed out. It’s as in the Monteverdi Choir doing Bach, I’d reply, not entirely accurately.

This is what we looked like at our launch gig in Bremen back in the twentieth century:


DP original lineup


Steve Stubbs has always been the engine room of the band, and having played with everyone from Chuck Berry to William Christie there’s nothing he can’t cope with or be inspired by.

Dowland Project at St Gerold

Steve and I have worked together for years, since we first met soon after I joined the Hilliard Ensemble. Barry Guy I’d known even longer, and I’ve been involved in some iconic Guy works over the years. He wrote Hold Hands and Sing for Electric Phoenix back in the seventies – a Dada-based riot of a piece featuring the Magical Movement Machine –  and then the multi-instrumental Waiata for me and Philip Pickett (bits of which Richard Wistreich and I still perform); he wrote Un Coup de Des for the Hilliard Composition Competition and I used to do it regularly with students at York. John Surman I only knew as a jazz legend, but I very quickly got to know and enjoy his wonderfully quirky playing across that creative borderline where we operate (not to mention his sense of humour – he could literally dumbfound me mid-piece). Maya Homburger and Milos Valent came, like me, from the world of early music, but from that end of it which, like jazz, knows few constraints. We work very closely with producer Manfred Eicher, whose input into the recording sessions has always been transformative and inspirational.

Manfred Eicher and the Dowland Project



The ‘Night Sessions’


The working title is ‘Night Sessions’. It’s been very hard to keep quiet  about this,  as I think it’s by far the best thing we’ve done. Most of the tracks  date from 2002 after we recorded  Care Charming Sleep. In fact it’s just a single session which we recorded having finished the album and spent the evening celebrating. Way past my bed time Manfred suggested we go back in the church and record some more. We didn’t have any more music so we used medieval poems as a basis for improvisation. The result was  radically different from anything we’d done  before  (Barry, Maya, Steve and JS all at their brilliant best). We didn’t even think of releasing it as it was so  different from anything else we’d done , and we thought that people would be completely baffled by it.  So time passed and in 2006  we recorded Romaria as a step t0wards this  new direction. The Romaria sessions included the  bizarre 14th century Fumeurs Fumee (with its impenetrable text about smoking dope of some sort), one of several medieval pieces that didn’t fit with the rest of the material, and we decided to  put these with the Night Sessions music to make a complete album. It’s certainly the most extraordinary record we’ve ever made: medieval music in the usual Dowland Project style, plus medieval-inspired improvisation that transcends all of the usual parameters by about a million miles.  All the improv pieces are single takes so it has a fantastically live feel to it.


More details on the release and tour dates as we get them.











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