“With a so-so poem you say, ‘Yes that expresses exactly how I feel,’ but with great poetry, thrilling poetry, you say, ‘I never knew I felt like that’.”
– Philip Guston
from “A Sweeper-Up After Artists: a memoir,” (Thames & Hudson: 2003), by Irving Sandler, pg. 62.
Home to Chicago, and the preparations for the CINC tour with Paul Lytton and Philipp Wachsmann start immediately. But first, a recap of the final European stretch…
The Brotzmann Chicago Tentet finished up its tour with two festival dates, the first in Bergen, Norway on the 27th; the second in Stirling, Scotland the following day. It was a long set of travel from Dachau to Bergen, thankfully there was a day set aside just for that- we left Germany early in the morning and didn’t arrive in Norway until around 10pm that night; two flights and airports equals a wasted 24 hours. One positive aspect to the
trip was that we skated into Scandinavia with no overweight expenses on the tuba, bass, cello and baritone. A dinner of bar food, which in Norway means a $30 dollar hamburger chased down with a $20 beer (asking the waitress what she would recommend, as the beer in Norway is a fall off a steep from what was available the day before in Germany, her response was, “The biggest one.” Seems that More Is More isn’t just an American ideal.).
Tried to catch up on some sleep and work before meeting with Peter Kates, an old school mate from my teenaged years who now is a percussionist with the Bergen Orchestra and the BIT20 Ensemble. Absolutely strange to meet someone for the first time in 25 years who also grew up in Natick, Massachusetts, especially when you see each other in Bergen, Norway, but that’s the way it works sometimes. We discussed the idea of working on collaboration together using his duo with the flutist Ingela Oien in conjunction with the duo I have with Paal Nilssen-Love. Hopefully this will happen sometime in Norway early next year; we’re planning on a mix of compositions and improvised music that should be quite interesting.
The Tentet arrived at the festival venue around 6pm and we began trying to coordinate a way to organize the band on a small stage with a low ceiling. Though we did the best we could, the concert still turned out to be the most difficult of the tour. Most likely my placement in the direct center of the group, still between the drums and in front of the bass amp, made it impossible for me to hear anything I was playing for most of the performance. When we walked offstage I was quite sure that I had lost some of my hearing; still hoping I get some of it back. Despite the sound issues the band still seemed to communicate with the audience, and the festival director was quite surprised and pleased by the size of the audience and their positive response to our music. Head spinning, ears ringing, I was too wiped out to listen to any of the other music that night and was planning on making it an early night, but instead stayed up late talking Paal and Hilde Sofie Tafjord about music and politics; much more interesting than sleep.
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