20 September 2007


Artist statement

“One is propelled to make what one has not yet made, nor seen made. What one does not yet know how to make.”
– Philip Guston
from “The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts,” (Routledge: 2002), edited by Steven Johnson, pg. 191.


As I sit here in Stockholm washing my clothes at a laundromat, I realize that nearly another month has gone by since I last wrote down what’s transpired – it doesn’t seem possible and yet it’s a fact. So the time has come to flip the calendar back to August…

One of the benefits of running the Immediate Sound Series at the Hideout with Mitch Cocanig is that it helps me to keep up with some of the music that’s happening in Chicago when I’m home. On Wednesday the 22nd Mike Reed’s ensemble, Loose Assembly, performed with Matt Baueder sitting in for the second set on a new long-form piece. The group sounded good and Mike continues to develop with accelerating speed as a drummer, composer, and band leader. In addition to having a fine time listening to the show, I got to play recordings that featured the contrasts and overlaps between Delta and Chicago Blues. The next night I was supposed to play with Mike at a performance that he had organized at Elastic for a new quartet with myself, Nicole Mitchell, and Nate McBride. Unfortunately, the city was hit with a storm that bordered on hurricane levels. For the first time in my entire life a gig was canceled due to rain, but this was something extreme- trees uprooted all over town, electricity out, flooding everywhere. Hopefully we’ll be able try this lineup again when I get back to Chicago later this year, and when the weather is in a more cooperative mood.

Things went more smoothly the following night for the premier of Daniel Krauss’ documentary, “Musician,” which took place at the Gene Siskel Film Center. I played a short set of solo improvisations before the film, and Dan and I answered questions from the audience after the movie was over. I wanted to dedicate the improvisations to reed musicians who have most influenced me- Joe McPhee, Anthony Braxton, Peter Brötzmann, and Evan Parker- but I figured that peope were going to here me talk enough during the film so I kept my mouth shut and just played. The last piece I did dedicate, however. Max Roach had just passed away and it seemed fitting to perform McPhee’s beautiful piece, “Goodbye Tom B,” as a memorial statement for him. It felt meaningful to play it on the occasion of Paul Rutherford’s death only a couple of weeks earlier. Too many giants being lost to us too quickly…

Despite the fact that the film closely follows my activities between April and August of last year, which makes it impossible for my to be unbiased about its content, I think that Dan has made a remarkable documentary and it captures the side of the work that goes into playing music that few people get to see. The cinematography and editing are excellent; in some ways “Musician” comes across like a more kinetic Fredrick Wiseman film. In the first half of next year the movie will be released by Facets on dvd and shall include hours of extra performance footage, including concerts with Paal Nilssen-Love and rehearsal time with Fred Anderson and the Territory Band. I was very happy for Dan; the theater was packed with more than 150 people for the screening, and the film looked and sounded fantastic on the state of the art equipment at the Siskel Theater.

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