Maggie Nicols

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Improvisation

Improvisation is part of our daily lives. It is a dance of outer influences and inner impulses. When we let ourselves, we can reflect and connect with each new moment and everything that has ever been.

I draw from the personal and the universal which holds everything we need for spontaneous and structured performance and composition. The challenge is what to express from this infinite resource. As a beginner in the late 'sixties, I practised different approaches to this creative challenge, including beautifully designed pieces by John Stevens which led to a coherent language of individual and collective liberation and almost telepathic interaction, to just improvising freely and experiencing joy, frustration, confusion and clarity, depending on who I was playing with or how trusting or not I was of myself, others and the process of improvisation itself. I found my background in dance and theatre; my political awakening, motherhood; all of these and more, becoming a part of my ongoing love affair with improvisation. When I went through a period of late nights and drinking and smoking too much and my singing voice suffered, I developed a strange kind of stand up improvised philosophising and comedy. Over the years these, and other approaches have been developed, fine tuned, contrasted and integrated into my performances and teaching...

There are three low resolution MP3s from the 2nd CD by Les Diaboliques, "Splitting Image" available on this page. Just click on the links opposite to hear them.

Les Diaboliques CD albums are available from Intakt Records and from this website.

Les Diaboliques are:-
Irène Schweizer, piano; Joëlle Léandre, bass; Maggie Nicols, voice.

1. Hélas! (03.49)
2. Uncle Peter (01.48)
3. The whole world (02.42)
4. Bring out your dead (01.07)
5. Molto strano (02.34)
6. Stevens' game (04.01)
7. In a balladesque mood (04.13)
8. Splitting image (02.03)
9. Two waves (03.54)
10. Silly boy (03.57)
11. Who is Adam? (06.08)
12. The very last tango (02.36)
13. Little Nicols (02.23)
14. Infinite diversity (05.10)
15. Quifecit (04.35)
16. Valse diabolique II (02.07)

Recorded at Rote Fabrik Zürich on 7 and 8 November 1994.

Cover art (reproduced above) by Rosina Kuhn.

Les Diaboliques Concert 30/12/97
Les Diaboliques
Copyright Photo by BMW AG

Les Diaboligues splitting image CD cover front.jpg
Les Diaboliques ii - Splitting Image

Two Waves

Little Nicols

Valse Diaboliques ii

" .... Nicols' nearly wordless vocals laid out an endless variety of potential scenarios: we "saw" the ragged immigrant child huddled in a doorway: a team of sturdy horses pulling sleighs through the streets of a dark and deserted Central European city: the wind, full of sand, whistling around a desert caravan........Sliding in and out of language, keeping us in stiches one minute, on the edge of our chairs the next, she performed with a deep concentration leavened by an extremely giddy and eccentric sense of humour. At time she transformed herself into a stand up philosopher........ She sang beautifully,sometimes evoking Bulgarian, Arabic or Indian vocal styles, but mainly sounding like Maggie Nicols, world citizen." Alex Varty. Review Vancouver Jazz Festival

Improvisation

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