That night there was a concert held at the Empty Bottle: Lasse Marhaug playing solo, Per-Ake Holmlander and Axel Doerner in solo and duo contexts, and a trio with myself, Paal Nilssen-Love and David Stackenas. The range of music played over the course of the evening was pretty astonishing. Once again an unaccompanied solo was a standout performance, in this case Axel’s was the improviser. I’ve known him for a while now, and have heard him play solo live and on record many times, but the level at which he is working with sound and space at this point is really awe inspiring. It felt like I was hearing a contemporary version of Thelonious Monk’s use of space in music, as a construct and tension building device, just incredible. Getting a chance to work with Paal and David again as a trio was beautiful, my favorite kind of open improvising- moving from group expression to parallel ideas to collaging information, all at extremely high speed. This is a lineup that I would definitely like to work with more.
Wednesday the 23rd the Territory Band rehearsed with Fred Anderson again, his playing during the piece was simultaneously more developed and more spontaneous. Rather than beat the group into the ground with work, after Fred left I decided to just go over a few specifics and end the day so everyone could go home and relax. The ensemble felt prepared and I wanted to keep the music fresh for the concert on Thursday at Millennium Park. In the evening there was another concert at the Hideout. This time it was a double bill with Fred Anderson, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, and Paul Lytton, then the DKV Trio. We would be playing together for the first time in more than a year, and in Chicago for the first time in about four years. I thought Paul sounded great with Fred, and Ingebrigt did a fine job following the saxophonist’s lines. DKV was so busy together in the mid 1990s and developed such a special way of playing together, sometimes the pressure to succeed on our occasional concerts can be defeating. Thankfully it seemed that we were able to “just play” and let the music be itself. Hard to believe that Hamid, Kent and I used to play together more in one month than we’ve played together in the last five years.
Thursday hits. Plans started for this concert more than a year ago and my thanks go especially to the work of Michael Orlove from the Cultural Center for getting it to happen. One more financial hurdle was added towards the end of the project. Because the decision was made to record the performance for possible release it became necessary to pay the eleven person union crew $100 a person, in cash, during the sound check in order to get them to allow the recording to happen. There was an attempt to explain that this would be an “artistic” endeavor as opposed to a “commercial” one; i.e. a few thousand copies would sell as opposed to a few hundred thousand. It didn’t matter, policy was policy; so it cost more to pay the union to do nothing more than they normally do, than it was to pay Bob Weston to set up and engineer the entire session; frustrating to say the least. As always, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and with the added help of the Cultural Center and Bruno Johnson, funds were raised and the first recording ever held at Millennium Park was made possible.
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