© Giuseppe Tamponi

Caroline Kraabel came to London from Seattle as a teenager, just too late to realise her punk dreams and instead  discovering the saxophone, street performance and busking. There were ideas about freedom in the air, including the punk ideal of music as something anyone could do, which led to music in which one could, with application and inspiration, do anything: improvisation. London’s vibrant improvised music scene and its many great musicians gave Kraabel opportunities to explore extended techniques (especially the use of voice with the sax) and to spend time thinking about acoustics and the interactions of electricity and music: reproduction, synthesis, and their implications.


Caroline Kraabel is committed to improvisation as a way of living and working, making music in unexpected ways and places (Taking a Life for a Walk; Going Outside) but also composing and playing written music (Mass Producers and Saxophone Experiments in Space for large groups, and many pieces for smaller groups). She has worked with Anri Sala, Maggie Nicols, Andrea Zarza Canova, Evan Parker, Annie Lewandowski, John Tchicai, Cleveland Watkiss and Susan Alcorn, among many fine artists, and was a director of the London Musicians Collective, which created Resonance 104.4fm, London’s art radio station.


Caroline Kraabel has been playing with and conducting the
London Improvisers Orchestra for many years, exploring improvisation and conducted improvisation for large groups (up to 50 musicians).



  • ﷯ Kraabel/Weston/Sanders: Playtime
    2009 CD featuring Veryan Weston (piano), Mark Sanders (drums) and Caroline Kraabel. Improvisations and songs with improvised accompaniment and arrangements. Jaques Tati is one reference point for the music on this CD. Listen
  • ﷯ Giving Out/In the Garden City
    A 2009 double CD, each disc of which features an improvising duo: Caroline Kraabel/Susan Alcorn (pedal steel guitar) on Giving Out, and Caroline Kraabel/Annie Lewandowski (prepared piano) on In the Garden City. Listen
  • ﷯ Resonance Magazine and CD, issue 10.2: Locality and Reproduction
    Caroline Kraabel edited this issue of the magazine, interviewing John Butcher, John Tilbury and Joe Banks (disinformation), and commissioning writing, music (and one film), by such artists as Susan Alcorn, Michael Chanan, Evan Eisenberg, Phil England, Sylvia Hallett, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, Matt Wand, Sarah Washington, Robert Wyatt and many others. The subject is the interaction of music with place and technology, and the many ramifications (physical, ecological, theoretical) of this. Susan Alcorn’s article won the Da Capo prize for writing about music.
  • ﷯ http://carolinekraabel.free.fr
    a website containing texts on sound and reproduction, 
including This Recorded Music is for the Ears of Dead People Only. http://carolinekraabel.free.fr
  • ﷯ Mass Producers

    A 20-piece saxophone/voice orchestra, all women. Caroline Kraabel has made 4 long pieces for this group since 1998. Mass Producers has recorded one CD, Performances for Large Saxophone Ensemble 1 and 2, and one analogue (vinyl) LP, Performances for Large Saxophone Ensemble 3 and 4, featuring guest Maggie Nicols (voice).

  • ﷯ Shock Exchange
     This is Caroline Kraabel’s long-standing duo with John Edwards. He plays contrabass and sings, CK plays the saxophone and sings. In the years that they’ve been playing together they have played many songs (their own and other people’s), but now they improvise, aiming for intuition and communication. They’ve also played occasionally as a trio, with drummers Charles Hayward or Richard E. Harrison. Listen
  • ﷯ The London Improvisers Orchestra
    This is a group of up to 50 improvising musicians that has been meeting and performing in London each month for nearly two decades to try and find appropriate ways of improvising for large ensembles. The LIO plays completely improvised pieces and also pieces devised and/or conducted by members of the group, including Caroline Kraabel (for example, a series of Kraabel pieces entitled Hearing Reproduction 1-8, some of which feature on CDs of the orchestra released by Emanem). Caroline Kraabel has a blog touching on (among other subjects) the possibilities of large-group improvisation. Listen http://masskraabel.tumblr.com/
  • ﷯ Kraabel/Weston

    A duo with pianist Veryan Weston. One CD, Five Shadows, of live concert recordings in acoustically interesting venues; many live performances.

  • ﷯ Kraabel/Hug/Nicols
    Trio with Maggie Nicols (voice) and Charlotte Hug (viola). Sometimes an exploration of three different alto instruments. One CD, Transitions, on Emanem. Listen
  • ﷯ Liverpool Shadows

    This project went on for a couple of years. Phil Hargreaves (tenor and soprano sax, flute) and Caroline Kraabel recorded duos in a variety of very different-sounding spaces in Liverpool – a road tunnel under the Mersey, an anechoic chamber at the university, a huge dome, George’s Hall, etc. One CD, Where We Were, Shadows of Liverpool, where these recordings are crossfaded and intercut to become an acoustic portrait of Liverpool.

  • ﷯ Now We Are One Two 1995-1999.

    A solo performance work using: some live tape-recording of improvisations, subsequently to be re-improvised with; a giant sheet of newspaper; dance; songs; fake blood; 10 metres of red fabric; spoken poems and also improvised and composed solo saxophone/voice parts. Toured across Europe, Canada and the USA, released as a CD. This piece was a precursor to Mass Producers.


In Spring 2016 Caroline Kraabel was invited by Québec’s Grand Groupe Régional d’Improvisation Libre to rehearse and perform her piece Une note n’écoutant qu’elle-même In March/April 2016 Kraabel organised the Calais Music Caravan, which travelled to the La Linière refugee camp in Northern France to play music and bring donations of musical instruments and other necessities for the people living there. A benefit performance of Kraabel’s piece LAST for improvising orchestra plus the pre-recorded voice of Robert Wyatt (singing a song by CK, also called LAST) brought in a lot of funds for this project; a live recording thereof is to be released soon. In 2015/2016 Caroline Kraabel curated and performed in a series of events, The Silver Wire, on William Blake’s home ground in North Lambeth, featuring Blake’s poetry and images alongside improvisation from Kraabel and Charlotte Hug, John Edwards, Tori Handsley, Cleveland Watkiss, Beibei Wang, Evan Parker, Hannah Marshall, Lauren Kinsella, Pat Thomas, Hyelim Kim, Maggie Nicols, Louis Moholo, David Stockard, Daniel Thompson and many more. Caroline Kraabel was part of Evan Parker’s 2015 large improvising orchestra for a tribute to Butch Morris. Since 2013 Kraabel has again been Going Outside, walking and playing the saxophone in London, with documentation: wealth-is-a-disease going-outside-northumberland-park-haringey-thursday going-outside-wednesday-8-january-2014-10-00-am Late in 2013 Kraabel contributed saxophone improvisations to Andrea Zarza’s Sonic Time Capsule for the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid. In autumn 2012 Kraabel’s piece Recording The Other, for voice (French and English text by CK), flute, cello, piano and four recording devices, was selected for performance at the University of Glasgow at a symposium examining the appropriation of women’s voices and experience in Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis and Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses. Kraabel played at the Tate Modern Gallery in May 2012 as part of the HerNoise festival, performing in Pauline Oliveros’s piece To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe. In 2011 Kraabel composed a set of music for two flutes, sax and drums, which was toured by Rowland Sutherland, Neil Metcalfe, Mark Sanders and CK. For two months in Autumn 2011, Caroline Kraabel was one of two live saxophone soloists taking it in turns to improvise as part of Anri Sala’s piece 3-2-1, at the Serpentine Gallery, in London’s Kensington Gardens. Taking a Life for a Walk, a weekly or fortnightly half-hour wander through London streets with her child(ren) while playing the sax, was broadcast live on Resonance 104.4fm for five years. Music In Your Head is a live acoustic performance that takes place (mostly) inside the head of its audience of one. Recording an Impression, a piece of radio and postal art, was broadcast on Resonance 104.4 fm. My Foolish Machine, a half-hour radio art piece broadcast across Europe by the Radia network in 2006. Saxophone Experiments in Space, a site-specific ambulant composition for 55 saxophonists, made for the Queen Elizabeth Hall/foyer/environs, in London. In Autumn 2017 Caroline Kraabel's Taking a Life for a Walk, was selected for a Madrid exhibition of art relating to sound and public space, Charivaria. All of this work comes from a desire to make explicit the uniqueness of each way of making and receiving sound in time and space, which also relates to trying to live and work with integrity in the literal sense.
﷯ life ﷯ some releases ﷯ some work ﷯