By Gillian Green
The news of the passing of Keith Tippett earlier this week really rocked the music world with sadness and tributes written by many, including Keith’s former students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
It is well over twenty years since Keith agreed to sit on the panel for the rather laid-back Live Music Now audition/performance of Billy Thompson and the late Andy Maule (Iff and Butt) at the WNO Centre in John Street, Cardiff and after which he commented, to alleviate some concerns, that they would not usually be up at that time of day!
Not only was he generous with his time but also with his comments, putting musicians at their ease and treating all as fellow participants in the big wide world of music. Since then Keith sat on our panels in London and Bristol including at the centre in Southmead which had once been his old primary school. The London visits were particularly joyful for me as Keith avoided the underground, so this enabled me to travel with him in taxis!
Keith really believed in the whole ethos of LMN and, busy though he was, telephoned me after he had visited a friend in a care home when a Live Music Now concert had been taking place, to report or rather to say how it had been appreciated by his friend, impacted on the other residents and indeed himself.
Geoff Eales, another musician who has given many hours of his time to sit on LMN audition panels, refers to Keith as ‘musician extraordinaire, a master of the British free jazz scene’ and writes ‘my sparring with Keith on two magnificent Steinway D pianos at the 2016 Fishguard International Music Festival, will live long in my memory and ranks amongst the most treasured memories of my long career in music’.
Keith did not ‘embrace technology’ and preferred the personal touch of always speaking on the telephone. However he did give me the link to a feature about his concerts on Australian TV news saying how wonderful it had been that the news there was covering musical events – a real testament to his modesty, for I rather think that this item was in recognition of him as an exceptionally brilliant musician who was touring the country. Each telephone conversation he ended with ‘God bless you’ said with great sincerity. So may God bless you Keith and thank you for making the world a better place with your music and caring personality.