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Arnolfini - est 1961

Foremothers of Free Improvisation: Scottish vocalist Maggie Nicols, French bassist Joëlle Léandre and Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer.
With support from Halftone.

Since the late 1970s, Les Diaboliques have been at the Vanguard of feminist engagement with free improvisation. 

Schweizer and Nicols were members of the iconic Feminist Improvising Group (FIG) and performed with Léandre in the European Womens Improvising Group. They formed Les Diaboliques in 1990.


Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer have collaborated with many of the leading figures in free improvisation including Pauline Oliveros, John Stevens, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton and Phil Minton.

In Les Diaboliques, Nicols, Léandre and Schweizer’s incomparable personalities combine to invent music of depth, unpredictability, intensity and delirious humour. 

 “My favourite band of Irène and Maggie and Joëlle is Les Diaboliques. It’s three people who are totally in tune with each other. They are doing completely different things, but they are doing them in this incredible synergy that – you just can’t fake that. It’s something that when they came together, you saw the same kind of response. What you were seeing was people – women being totally at home with themselves on stage, being open about their personalities, their sexualities, their sounds, communicating in this extraordinary way.” Professor George E. Lewis quoted in Christian Broecking (2016) Irène Schweizer – Jazz, Avantgarde, Politik: Die autorisierte Biografie, Berlin: Broecking Verlag, 239-240.

There is also a unique opportunity to hear the artists talk about the history of feminist free improvisation and its ongoing evolution as part of this event. This is free with the evening performance and more details can be found here.


Early in 2016, a group of Bristol-based improvisers embarked on a musical journey to push past the conventions of their traditional instruments – flute, violin, cello and double bass – the quartet explore ever-expanding sonic possibilities. Halftone play part-composed music; being interested in the conscious or unconscious improvisatory responses generated by musical, and extra-musical, prompts and restraints.

Halftone is: Tina Hitchens – Flute / Yvonna Magda – Violin / Hannah Marshall – Cello / Caitlin Alais Callahan – Double Bass

Booking essential.  

This tour is supported by Arts Council England and Pro Helvetia and is the first-and-last opportunity to see Les Diaboliques perform in England.