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Black Top + Guests

Basquiat and Jazz

Pat Thomas and Orphy Robinson hanging out together

Black Top – Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas – bring together a mix of guest artists to explore the cultural dynamic which links Free-Jazz to the vividly resonant paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

‘If you can’t dance to John Coltrane, then you can’t dance.’ It wasn’t rare to find Basquiat spinning two hours of Coltrane or rare Gillespie tracks in his occasional DJ sets at the legendary New York nightclub Area, and his relationship with Jazz is evident in the improvisational style of many of his artworks. Pieces like ‘Trumpet’, ‘Horn Players’ and ‘Charles the First’ immortalised the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzy on canvas.

Tonight’s show – programmed to complement Basquiat: Boom for Real in our Art Gallery – sees radical guitarist Jean Paul Bourelly, spoken word artist Anthony Joseph and trumpeter Byron Wallen join Black Top to create music and words inspired by and in tribute to the visual artist – with an introduction from writer and improvisation expert Francesco Martinelli, whose essay King Zulu: Basquiat's Jazz Riddle considers Basquiat’s use of images of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and early Jazz pioneers, and featuring visuals and projection design by Derek Richards.

Produced by the Barbican in association with Serious


photo of NTS: Black Top with Thurston Moore live at Jazz Cafe

Watch: Black Top and Thurston Moore perform at The Jazz Cafe


Black Top, the multi-instrumentalist duo from Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas team up with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. Performed and broadcast live from The Jazz Cafe in Camden.

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