“Painting is a way of living, that is where the form of it lies.”
– Willem de Kooning
“What Abstract Art Means to Me,” Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, XVIII, No. 3 (Spring 1951).†
In my last tour diary I forgot to mention what may have been the best music that I heard at the Pitchfork Festival in July- the William Parker Quartet with Louis Barnes, Rob Brown, and Hamid Drake. They presented one of the strongest sets I saw that weekend, not sure why it slipped my mind when trying to recall what I encountered during the mid June to mid July period. It had been some time since I last heard William play, and he was in great form. Along with Hamid, one of the great rhythm sections of all time, they really drove the band forward, and Barnes and Brown were right on top of the charts and soloing with real intensity. This was the first time I was able to hear Louis Barnes play live and it was fantastic, such a strong trumpet player.
After a much needed holiday at the end of July, I got back to the music on the 2nd of August, starting with an improvising quartet that included visiting musician Els Vandeweyer (vibes), along with Tim Daisy, and Kent Kessler, playing at Elastic in Chicago. Els was in town for a few weeks, buying an instrument and playing with different musicians at different clubs while she was here. The concert with her at Elastic was quite a lot of fun, something like an open-ended Free Jazz session harkening back to the 1960s. During the weekend following that show, I greatly re-worked material that I had composed this past December for a double quartet project, called 4×4. This version of the band included Jason Adasciewicz, Jeb Bishop, Tim Daisy, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jason Roebke, Frank Rosaly, and Greg Ward. Lineup changes and different ideas about how to use the themes and restructure them created two very different compositions to play from the material I first tried half a year ago.
I worked on those pieces as part of the preparation needed for a series of concerts that would take place at the Velvet Lounge. My goal was to present the broadest spectrum of my current Chicago based projects during four concerts. Other than the absence of Powerhouse Sound (we weren’t able to fit a show in because of Jeff Parker’s intense performance schedule), I was able to present a solid cross section of the musicians in town that I’m working with and the ideas about music and improvisation that we’re addressing.
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