“So many people could do so many things if they would just try, but they’re frightened off because they haven’t been trained to do this or that… I just picked up a $7.50 camera and went to work.”
– Gordon Parks
from “Black Renaissance, Gordon Parks (1912-2006)” by Mark Randolph, Waxpoetics #17 (June/July 2006), pg. 20.†
A month blows by, almost all of it in Europe. The work started in Le Mans, France, at their jazz festival- two gigs, the first with the Vandermark 5, then a performance by a unique version of the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet. Mats Gustafsson had a prior commitment to the Barry Guy New Orchestra, so Peter brought in Roland Ramanan to play trumpet as a sub. Because Mars Williams left the band in April, the group needed a last minute addition. With luck, we were able to bring Toshinori Kondo in for a return engagement. For the first time since it formed in 1997, the Tentet brass section was larger than the reeds! Despite limited rehearsal time which meant Roland and Toshinori had to nearly sight read the material, the band sounded excellent- particularly on the second gig, in Hasselt, Belgium: two sets to a packed and appreciative audience. The Tentet meets again in Chicago during November for a special concert utilizing the texts of Kenneth Patchen, performed by Mike Pearson- the first time the band will incorporate words with their material. During that week, the group (with Mats back in tow) will record the new additions to the book (“A Long Breath Long,” and “For Fred Hopkins” by Peter, and a piece of mine called, “Flames Like Water.”), plus the Patchen piece, entitled, “Be Music, Night.”
Directly after the Hasselt concert, Paal Nilssen-Love and I flew to London, England to meet Nate McBride for the start of our FME tour. We met with the BBC who are filming a documentary on the state of contemporary jazz, with Branford Marsalis as host. The trio played two compositions from the new album, “Underground” (Okka Disk), for the film: “Kiosk” and “Lasko.” In addition both Paal and I were interviewed for this presentation, which will be broadcast in England during the fall. Branford was very supportive of the band’s work, talking with us in depth and taking the time to catch our concert at the Vortex that night (best of luck to them at their new location!).
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