5 December 2004


Slept until 2pm, the most direct rest in more than a week. Some great homemade pasta for lunch and back to the club for the FREE FALL soundcheck – so much for visiting Amsterdam. This trio always tires to play acoustic, not even a bass amp on stage, but there was no way the upright piano would carry in the upstairs space at the Paradiso. So we went with as little P.A. as we could. I grabbed dinner with friends and got back too late to see the quartet set by Roze, Tony Buck, John Butcher, and dancer Hisako Horikawa. FREE FALL set up and the volume from the main stage pounded through the doors and floor. This was going to be tough – low volume and introspective at times, the group’s music and the crowd were now faced with a John Cage experience. Somehow, it worked. The band went forward with the set as planned and by midway the audience was cheering, a packed room yelling for a “chamber improvisation” group – incredible and true. Afterwards I bumped into Ab Baars, who said he really enjoyed the pieces – one of the highest compliments I could hope for.

After packing up I heard Mohammed Jimmy Mohammed, Asnake Gebreyes, and Messele Asmamaw from Ethiopia, beautiful music and dancing. Three musicians sounding like an orchestra. Then ZU with Mats sitting in. They arrived minutes before FREE FALL hit the stage (“I have the baritone!”), a 40 hour journey that should have taken four. Couldn’t believe that it had been a year and a half since I’d seen these guys last. How can one week on the road feel like a month and a year apart from a friend seem like a day? ZU played on the same stage as FREE FALL, and as I watched the soundtech put mics up for Jacapo’s drums I knew this was going to make yesterday’s sextet gig sound acoustic by comparison. When the bomb went off it was a sonic machine, the tightness of the band has moved to the point where everything breathes- at 800 decibels. Somehow Mats stepped in to further up the ante. After the gig there is immediate talk of THREE baritones with massimo and Jacapo as rhythm – I will be bringing my own.

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