I'm a little confused about my musical background.
One moment I'm secure in the knowledge that I have my "roots in free jazz". . .
and the next minute I find out that I've "come up through the academic, classical crossover scene".
No disrespect intended to either author, incidentally! This is more just a tongue-in-cheek observation on the (perhaps unavoidable) tendency to, not pigeon-hole exactly, just to clarify, perhaps. Which inevitably implies simplifying.
And not that I want to give an "official" story, but for the record the first music I played live was rock, followed in the early 00s by free improvisation. This was mainly in ad hoc combinations or with one of two trios - sax/drums/bass with Sandy Kindness and Paul May, or violin/guitar/bass with Malcolm Atkins and David Stent. Kindness May Lash, via their instrumentation, may have leaned more towards a free jazz soundworld than the other trio, Hadaly, but that was not the musical intention. We never played any compositions, for example. Hadaly did meet on an MA course, and may have played music that had affinities with contemporary chamber music at times, but my conscious influences in that band were, rather, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and the Butcher/Durrant/Russell trio. My first extended encounters with jazz-derived music (as a performer) began a little later, in various bands led by the saxophonist Tim Hill. (It may be of interest that I still play with all of these musicians.)
Incidentally, I was listening to British and European free players (especially Derek Bailey and Evan Parker) and downtown American improvisers (Zorn) quite a long time before I really got into Ornette, Cecil, Ayler and so forth. I have no formal classical instrumental training of any kind, though I have had some fairly limited periods of compositional instruction. So now you know!