Phil Minton (b. 2 November 1940, Torquay, United Kingdom) is a jazz/free-improvising vocalist and trumpeter.Minton is a highly dramatic baritone who tends to specialize in literary texts: he has sung lyrics by William Blake with Mike Westbrook’s group, Daniil Kharms and Joseph Brodsky with Simon Nabatov, and extracts from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake with his own ensemble. He even once participated in a Jimi Hendrix tribute project, belting out the lyrics in particular over-the-top fashion.
He is perhaps best known, however, for his completely free-form work, which involves “extended techniques” that are extremely unsettling. His vocals often include the sounds of retching, burping, screaming, and gasping, as well as childlike muttering, whining, crying and humming; he also has an ability to distort his vocal cords to produce two notes at once. As the DJ/poet Kenneth Goldsmith has described it:”Minton’s range on this disc [A Doughnut in One Hand, FMP] runs from the sounds of a man choking on his own vomit to the sounds that grandpa makes when you finally decide to pull the plug on his respirator. Minton’s like a little kid who’s contact-miked himself playing yo-yo with his saliva; he’s a baby drooling through his cries; he’s mastered the art of the multiple burp; he’s perfected the craft of goobering all over his finger and then running it over his lips while moaning. I’d hate to see what his mic looked like after he was done with it. … Minton … forces us to ponder the musical qualities of noises that we’d rather not deal with and for that fact alone, makes this an important recording.
”Minton’s most frequent improvising companions are the pianist Veryan Weston and the drummer Roger Turner, but over the years he has worked with most of the improvising musicians in the European scene. Unlike some first-generation free improvisers, he has also become a frequent participant in the so-called electroacoustic improvisation (EAI) scene.