20 January 2006


I headed to Boston after the sessions in New Haven to finish preparations for a duo project with the pianist, Pandelis Karayorgis. Unlike the work with Joe and Luther, the duo material was based on nine new compositions: “Lifgatowy,” “Betwixt,” “United Forces Of One,” and two as yet untitled works, all by Pandelis; “Dreamless,” “Absolute Camel,” “JCT,” and “Title Without Year” by myself. I added clarinet to the tenor for these performances. We played a cocert on Friday the 13th at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, with Katt Hernandez playing a fine concert of solo violin improvisations as the opener. Even though it was the first time the two of us really had to stretch on the material (two short afternoon rehearsals were all that were possible due to the complexity of schedules), the communication was in tune right from the start despite the fact that this was the first time we had played together in years. A recording session was held the next morning at WGBH studios, and the music was even more succesful. Seven of the nine pieces were caught on first takes, and it was only necessary to play the other two compositions twice in order to realize them; one of the most effective recording sessions in my life. We started at 11am and were done by 2pm! Now we need to find a label to release the music, and we have plans to tackle a European tour next May. Sounds like it’s a long way off, but it will feel like tomorrow by the time it hits.

Before heading east to do this work, I started organizing three new pieces for the Vandermark 5 to play on our North American tour which starts on the 24th of January: “Sign Posts,” Further From The Truth,” and “To Build A Fire.” We’ve had the first rehearsals of the this material over the last couple of days and it sounds like these will be good additions to the current book. It’s so inspiring to work with great musicians like this, and the chance to tackle new work with these guys feels like like a fantastic aspect of the band’s job description.

Though 2006 has started off in the best way possible- by jumping into new challenges and possibilities-2005 ended sadly, with the death of Derek Bailey on Christmas day. I only had one opportunity to see him perform, but it was one of the few epiphanies in my life. Before hearing that concert I had completely misunderstood his music as a nearly random set of expressions. Ten seconds into his performance (with Greg Bendian at Chicago’s Hothouse in the mid 1990’s) he proved to me that I had been deaf- every sound and pause he executed was utilized with complete control. Bailey’s music and everything else I heard after that was never the same again. I really regret that I never got to thank him for the change.

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