“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.†
Have been in Scandinavia for about ten days, mostly around Stockholm. The last time I visited this city was three and a half years ago, and I remember catching Atomic perform at the Glenn Miller Cafe while I was in town. After the show Paal Nilssen-Love and I shared a cab back to our different hotels. Paal was unusually silent during the ride, and pale. His stop was first, and getting out he said, “Goodnight. Looking forward to Berlin.” A week later he was in the hospital diagnosed with cancer. I thought that might be the last time I’d ever see him.
A couple of years earlier I participated in a rehearsal with Per Henrik Wallin and AALY at Per Henrik’s apartment. We were going to play some of his pieces together at the 15th Anniversary concert for AALY at a Stockholm club called Mosebacke. So, first things first- some coffee in the kitchen, Per Henrik in his wheelchair, chain smoking. There was a small boom-box by the window and it was playing a Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt album, tough Chicago tenors for a guest visiting from the Windy City. In the living room the group worked on his pieces, dozens of them, written in a sketch-like version of music notation, some kind of personalized shorthand. Hard to make sense of the compositions by looking at the notes alone, but as soon as Per Henrik ran the heads everything was clear. Or so it seemed. At the gig the experience was of course different, like trying to hold onto a sled as it shot off the side of a cliff. He seemed pretty happy though, and played beautifully- the first and only time I saw him perform. After the concert he said that we should try to work out some trio music with me on clarinet and Kjell Nordeson playing with brushes. Never got the chance. When people ask me why I play with so many musicians, try out so many projects, I always think of missed opportunities like the one with Per Henrik Wallin. His final recording, Velodromer, came out recently on Moserobie records. There have been too many final recordings released in last few months.
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