“[There was a] shift from aesthetics to ethics; the picture was no longer supposed to be Beautiful, but True- an accurate representation or equivalence of the artist’s interior sensation and experience. If this meant that a painting had to look vulgar, battered, and clumsy- so much the better.”
– Thomas B. Hess
Willem de Kooning, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1968.†
Returning to Oslo today after about two weeks of work in Chicago dominated by the Be Music, Night project with the Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet. The group performed the material at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Sunday the 7th, and recorded the piece over two days during the Friday and Saturday before that. Musically the process and results were incredible, logistically it was a near nightmare, proving once again why I dislike large festivals.
Peter’s solutions to the problem of integrating the poems of Kenneth Patchen into the music of the Tentet were marvelous and straightforward. By using a sequence of four composed themes and Fred Lonberg-Holm’s Lightbox system, he was able to build a fluid structure that left space for Mike Pearson’s reading and interpretations of the texts while also letting Peter set the direction of the music and the band.
Working with Mike was fantastic, and the way he improvised his approach to the poems while interacting with the primary soloists of the composition (Jeb Bishop, Mats Gustafsson, Joe McPhee) was stunning. The combination of the words and music was very, very powerful- the audience wasn’t able to leave the theater after the concert was finished, they remained in their seats after the applause died away, maybe in some kind of emotional shock. The idea that love will prevail in our time, especially after the reecent U.S. election, is rarely something presented so directly and with such force. Thankfully the beauty of the material was captured by Bob Weston during our recording sessions. Three versions of the hour+ composition were documented, all of them different and all of them strong.
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