17 August 2006

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Artist statement

“So that was what was going on at the turn of the century, that’s almost sixty years ago, say. So actually experimental prosody has been the main tradition in American and English poetry for the better part of the this last century. And so one may say that it is the “Tradition” that the younger poets in America are working on, it’s the “real tradition.” And the paradox is that these younger poets who were working in this tradition have been accused of being aesthetic anarchists, of not working in any “tradition” at all. Unfair! Ignorant accusation! And the problem was that most of the people in the academies, as Pound pointed out very early, were so backward technically, that they didn’t know what was happening to prosody, and naturally it was the poets that were inventing new forms, the academy didn’t catch up with them, the academy itself didn’t study hard enough to find out what was happening. And most professor-critics were not prepared, the ears in the academy were not tuned to recognize what specific forms were being used. So old formalists were not refined enough to be able to recognize and judge new forms and to hear them, much less analyze them, because academic types didn’t recognize anything as “formal” unless t sounded like a familiar nineteenth-century type of form-rhymed accentual quatrains.”

– Allen Ginsberg
from “Allen Ginsberg spontaneous mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996,” (Perennial: 2002), edited by David Carter, pg. 112.

 

The end of July and start of August remained busy. There were concerts in and out of Chicago, the compositional work for the Territory Band piece, “Collide,” and the organization of all the logistics connected to that upcoming project.

The current stretch began with the second Dialog Series concert at the Empty Bottle on July 25th, a show with Frank Rosaly. It was great to get a chance to play with him again, there haven’t been too many opportunities due to my touring and Frank’s busy performance schedule- he’s one of the most in demand percussionists in Chicago, and deservedly so. The first set in particular was filled with fine music and creative give and take. Here’s hoping that the break between this concert and our next chance to work together won’t be as long as the last one.

On the following night the trio of myself, Joe Morris and Luther Gray performed at the Hideout. In this case it was the second set that, to my ears, ears seemed more open and simultaneously more focused. The instrumentation of tenor sax, electric guitar, and drums can help eliminate conventions created by a more standard lineup, but it also can produce the challenge of how to shape a music based on an “American” rhythmic approach without having the usual tools at your disposal. Joe and Luther performed in a quartet with Steve Lantner and Fred Anderson on Thursday at the Elastic space, I was sorry to have to miss this; I was out of town with BRIDGE 61. In addition to that performance, Joe also had a solo concert during Friday afternoon which I am sure was outstanding- he’s one of the great solo improvisers working today, completely unique and inspiring.

I left Chicago on Thursday, the 27th of July, with BRIDGE 61 for a three-day road trip through Michigan. The first concert was held in Ann Arbor, and was much more cohesive than the Chicago performance the previous Sunday. Clearly the new material benefited from some extra time to settle in our heads, and the compositions had more of a through-line during performance because of this. We also had a strong and enthusiastic turnout for this show, so all in all it was an extremely enjoyable night of music. Friday the group drove to Detroit in the blistering heat only to find out that the venue wasn’t air conditioned, not the best news after sweating all day in Nate’s car. There was a decent turnout at the show, but I’m sure some potential listeners headed to the MISSION OF BURMA concert that was also happening in town. Detroit is a fascinating and strange place, so much of it seems abandoned and yet there are young people moving into the city to reclaim it (like the presenters rebuilding the Bohemian National Home, where we played). I always leave there with mixed feeling of sadness and inspiration. The last of the three BRIDGE gigs took place in Kalamazoo, and when we arrived we found another sweltering club- hard to face after driving through the July heat wave again; at this point I think I had sweated off about ten pounds. There was a small turnout and this, coupled with a certain lack of focus from exhaustion, helped make it a difficult night.

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