5 November 2005

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Artist statement

“So that was what was going on at the turn of the century, that’s almost sixty years ago, say. So actually experimental prosody has been the main tradition in American and English poetry for the better part of the this last century. And so one may say that it is the “Tradition” that the younger poets in America are working on, it’s the “real tradition.” And the paradox is that these younger poets who were working in this tradition have been accused of being aesthetic anarchists, of not working in any “tradition” at all. Unfair! Ignorant accusation! And the problem was that most of the people in the academies, as Pound pointed out very early, were so backward technically, that they didn’t know what was happening to prosody, and naturally it was the poets that were inventing new forms, the academy didn’t catch up with them, the academy itself didn’t study hard enough to find out what was happening. And most professor-critics were not prepared, the ears in the academy were not tuned to recognize what specific forms were being used. So old formalists were not refined enough to be able to recognize and judge new forms and to hear them, much less analyze them, because academic types didn’t recognize anything as “formal” unless t sounded like a familiar nineteenth-century type of form-rhymed accentual quatrains.”

– Allen Ginsberg
from “Allen Ginsberg spontaneous mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996,” (Perennial: 2002), edited by David Carter, pg. 112.

Days off in Germany with Ellen after the trio tour with Paul Lovens and Kent Kessler, and before the three week European stretch coming up with the Vandermark 5. Last night we celebrated Erhard Hessling’s 50th birthday party in Bielefeld while spinning funk and soul albums, trading off music with Norbert Bach from Club W 71 in Weikersheim. Great to have nothing else to do but listen to good music with good friends. Here’s to his next 50!

The tour with Paul and Kent was remarkable for the music played and the distances travelled. In order to meet the newly established EU standard for notes per kilometer per concert, I think we averaged nine hours of trains a day for more than a week to guarantee we’d make the necessary sound for distance travelled quota needed to perform two sets a night in Europe. A difficult haul to face each morning before playing the same night, but clearly necessary.

Most evenings the music felt like pure communication, and the couple of times we struggled from exhaustion we pushed as hard as we could anyway. I expected to be surprised by the music we performed, after all this was the first time we had ever worked as a trio together and it was a tour with Paul Lovens, one of the great drummers of improvised music, but we played much more as a open jazz trio than I would have anticipated- lots of focus on tempos and time, with Paul REALLY swinging and using incredible dynamic control and touch. But often the music would suddenly take a hard left turn into deconstructed territory, sounds and time breaking apart radically. Since the first time I played with Paul nearly ten (!) years ago it has always seemed like we could anticipate each others phrasing. Or is it just that Paul can anticipate what I’m going to do before I do it, which makes me believe that I can guess where he’s also going to go? Better for me not to look at this one too closely… Kent and Paul really played together beautifully, no matter what direction the music would take- a killer rhythm section in the old school sense.

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