For some completely idiotic reason, I decided to get up in time for breakfast at the hotel despite the fact that it ended at 10am. After stumbling downstairs, and foraging around for something worthwhile to eat, I sat down with the usual ham and cheese sandwich and bad coffee. The hotel manager was also sitting in the breakfast area, working on his computer. Suddenly I heard a strange moaning sound coming from his table, and when I
looked up to see what it was, I saw that he was watching some extremely hardcore pornography on the computer screen instead of checking the guest records: “Internet Porn, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.”
On the day of the quartet’s first gig, Adam had to do an afternoon performance with the quintet, and then an evening concert with them, and then the two sets with Paal, Magnus, and I. And we were supposed to rehearse in the morning before all that started so that we could figure out how to play two sets of music together before midnight. We all met except for Adam, whose alarm didn’t go off, so the day begins quite smoothly. He shows up an hour later and the four of us more or less figure out how to get through nine compositions (five by Adam, four by me), and then hope that we’re going to remember all the details when we try and play together twelve hours later. Before our sound check I try and get some work done and wander around town taking photographs, looking at the amazing colors and lines all over the city. The band met at the Salon Brazil at 6pm to check the recording levels and review the material one more time while a few dozen musicians, writers, and festival staff start eating dinner. No need for the PA, but it takes a while to get Adam’s amp running, and for the mics to be set up for the recording (all three nights are going to tape for a potential release on Clean Feed). Considering he had just arrived the day before, and all the work he had been dealing with without hardly any sleep, Adam proved to be an amazingly easy going individual (why is this such a [thankfully] common trait among bass players?), and a great musician to work with. It’s extremely rare to meet an improviser that is so accomplished without having encountered them somewhere along the way before, or having had them recommended to you from another artist you know. So the experience of working on the quartet collaboration with Adam was a great experience and surprise. The band reviewed the charts as quickly as possible, and then tried to grab some dinner. Adam’s food took forever to arrive, of course, and he wolfed down a meal in five minutes before heading to his other concert of the evening. When I went to listen to their performance, it was hard to really get a sense of the group’s music- the sound in the hall was extremely unbalanced and distant- so I walked back to the Salon with Mats Gustafsson and Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (who arrived that day to play a Thing vs. Scorch gig the following night), and Paal. Adam arrived and we played. Some good music was realized, but it was clear that we had a lot of work ahead of us to get the material together before the next night.
Friday started off much smoother, our rehearsal was excellent and we began to feel prepared. The one drawback is that Paal has a gig with the Thing/Scorch before our show, so it’s a similar crazy schedule in the evening: sound check at the Salon at around 6pm, Paal’s other sound check, his other gig, then two sets with the quartet. I meet up with him, Mats, and Ingebrigt for a quick meal after they get everything set at their concert hall. Since we had no idea what’s around the venue in regards to restaurants, we rushed around trying to figure what there is to eat in the area with our complete lack of ability to understand Portuguese. Paal spots a sign and we head upstairs to what seems a nice place- bingo! The three of them now have exactly 40 minutes to eat before the concert starts. The menus arrived and it turns out that it’s a fondue restaurant- about the slowest way to eat a meal possible. Too late to find another spot so we tried to rush things by putting about a dozen forks in each pot to get the food to cook quickly, I burned my mouth several times in the process. Then they rushed to the show, barely getting to the backstage before the lights came up. The Thing vs. Scorch gig ended up sounding mostly loud, they also suffered from the problematic sound of the concert hall. One thing that does come across is that some of the electronics Mats used with his tenor sax came across with strong effect. At the conclusion of their show, Paal and I squeezed the drums and the two of us into a small car and shot to the Salon to get things ready for our show. The place was quite packed when we walked in, maybe 250 people, but unfortunately a bunch of them were celebrating someone’s birthday party so the room ends up being loud as hell.
© 2021 Ken Vandermark – musician & composer | Disclaimer