“We look at most of the sculptures without incident. But, when we come to the scooter bird, the publisher whispers in my ear: ‘Don’t bother to photograph it. It’s more an object than a sculpture.’ Picasso, who hears and understands everything, whom nothing escapes, suddenly turns toward him, and, pointing to The Bird, says sharply: ‘I absolutely insist that this sculpture appear in my album!’ When the publisher leaves the studio an hour later, Picasso is still seething.
‘An object! So my bird is just an object! Who does that man think he is, to tell me, Picasso, what is or is not a sculpture! He’s got some nerve! I just might know more about it than he does. What is sculpture? What is painting? Everyone’s still clinging to outdated ideas, obsolete definitions, as if the artist’s role was not precisely to offer new ones.’”
from “Conversations With Picasso,” (University of Chicago Press: 1999), by Brassaï and translated by Jane Marie Todd, pg. 69.
Paul Lytton announced, “This is a drum solo,” and launched into a percussion tour de force, a multitude of ideas about timing and rhythm fired in quick succession, overlapping, shifting direction, cutting to silence- simply awe inspiring. That particular improvisational stretch occurred at the Hungry Brain in Chicago on Sunday, August 20th, during a concert that included Jim Baker, Per-Åke Holmlander, Kent Kessler, Fredrik Ljungkvist, and Dave Rempis. Even if it had been the only thing that had happened during the week while the Territory Band-6 was in town, it would have made all the logistical work needed to get the group together well worthwhile. As it turned out, this solo of Paul’s was one of many, many highlights during the nine days of music from the 16th to the 24th of August.
The music connected to the new Territory project began as a double bill at the Hideout on Wednesday, the 16th. The duo of Kevin Drumm and Lasse Marhaug started things off with an amazing electronic-sound set. Lasse told me afterwards that they hadn’t worked together since Frozen by Blizzard Winds was recorded, which was nearly five years ago, but you couldn’t tell from the music coming offstage. It was great to hear Kevin in a suitable context. As always, when I listen to him it makes me question and reevaluate how to organize sound and time. The trio FireRoom followed, Lasse with Paal Nilssen-Love and myself. Last spring we did some recording with this lineup and there are plans to mix and sequence an album from the material later this year. Our set was quite physically intense, and once again I learned how much adding a single musician to an improvising context can shift everything and alter what you think you know. Paal and I perform frequently as a duo, and most of the methods we’ve developed to play together were nearly useless for the musical situation with Lasse. Everyone took some heavy musical risks throughout our performance, which ended up getting us too far out on a limb by the end of the set with no way back- the right kind of failure.
Unfortunately, because I was copying out the charts for “Collide,” the new piece for the Territory Band and Fred Anderson, I wasn’t able to catch the next two nights of music. For the record, however, this is what happened. On Thursday at Elastic Dave Rempis played in a duo with David Stackenas, then this was followed by a quintet comprised of Josh Abrams, Jim Baker, Axel Doerner, Fredrik Ljungkvist, and Paul Lytton. At the same time, Fred Lonberg-Holm organized a group to perform at the New Velvet Lounge. This included, besides himself, Anton Hatwich, Lasse Marhaug, and Paul Nilssen-Love. On Friday the 18th Fred Lonberg-Holm and David Stackenas performed as a duo and with Axel Doerner and Jamie Branch at a festival organized by the organizers at the Ice Factory.
During the day on Thursday and Friday the large ensemble rehearsed the music from last October’s tour: “Fall With A Vengeance,” “Corrosion,” “Untitled Fiction,” and “Cards.” I was amazed both by how well the group remembered the way that the music went, and by the ability of David Stackenas (who “replaced” Johannes Bauer in this edition of the band) to essentially site read the charts and become a real part of the ensemble so quickly. Axel showed up near the end of Thursday’s rehearsal after an absolutely hellacious plane flight that started in Oslo; he looked like he had just walked off the set from Night Of The Living Dead. Considering that there were five extra people staying at the house in addition to two dogs, and that he ended up sleeping on a mattress in my basement, he looked surprisingly human by the next day.
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