For the rest of the tour Phil’s left eye was swollen shut and completely black and blue. For the first couple of gigs after the accident (in Buffalo and then Toronto) he wore sunglasses and a beret on stage because he was concerned that his appearance would alarm the audience. This was extremely thoughtful of him, but it completely freaked me out. He could hardly see as it was, and with the sunglasses on while indoors he was essentially blind- I kept waiting for him to tumble offstage and crack the other side of his head open. Luckily this never happened.
CINC’s music kept becoming more and more intricate as the tour continued, moving between and endless series of extremes, from intense rhythmic studies to static overtones to silence cut by repetition. At one point early in the tour I suggested breaking the trio into smaller configurations as the music tended towards trio exposition or duos between Paul and Phil. Paul’s initial response was, “Well, we haven’t run the course of what’s possible in the trio yet, have we?” I was thinking about utilizing more variety in the instrumental combinations during the improvising, Paul was trying to see how far the trio could be pushed before letting it go. A bit later in the trip Phil suggested that we try using shorter pieces and I said, “Well I keep stopping, so I’m all for the idea.” Of course, after debating these possibilities and deciding that using them during the performances could be a good option, Paul would usually choose to drive past whatever was discussed in an attempt to find out what would happen once we were onstage.
Our final concert was in Montreal on the 18th of June for the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival. It was great to be back in this city to play again; of all the places where I perform in North America, Montreal has become one of the most consistently supportive and open minded for the different music I’m involved with. A case in point: when the Free Music Ensemble performed a few days later, on the 20th, the attendance for our concert had about 50 more listeners than our previous concert in September of 2005. You can build things here. CINC played in the club, Casa del Popolo, which is one of my favorite venues in the world. I’m curious to hear the tape that was made of this show, as it was probably the most extreme performance on the tour. Working with Paul in this format every night, watching him and listening to the way he will interrupt and disrupt his playing if he feels that something has become to rote or expected, finally pushed me over the edge of past worrying about “control.” I began to deconstruct my lines to the point where they were falling apart, beyond intention. In order to figure out what to do onstage after eight concerts with these musicians, I was forced to build a whole new range of expressive vocabulary. If I hadn’t, it would have become necessary for me to leave the stage and let Phil and Paul to work as a duo. In retrospect, maybe this was part of Paul’s reasoning for not wanting to “abandon the trio sensibility.”
My huge thanks to Tim Daisy for the drum loan, Fred Lonberg-Holm for the amp loan, Nate McBride for the mixer loan, and Amos Scattergood for single handedly driving 3000 miles. To everyone who risked presenting the music and to all those who came to the shows, my complete gratitude- without you this music might disappear below the underground.
Ken Vandermark, Chicago, 6/29/06.
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