“I think the destructive element is too much neglected in art.”
– Piet Mondrian
from “The Dada Painters And Poets: An Anthology, Second Edition,” (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 1981), edited by Robert Motherwell, pg. xviii.
On Wednesday, September 12th, I left New York for a tour of Europe that would begin in Norway with Free Fall and end in Poland on November 19th with the Resonance Project. Ingebrigt Håker Flaten met me at the central train station and from there it was the usual first day in after the flight overseas, trying to stay awake while catching up with what had been happening since seeing each other last, some dinner and some pricey Norwegian beer.
The next day Ingebrigt and I met at Håvard Wiik’s rehearsal space to run the newest Free Fall book. It had been more than a year (?!!) since the three of us had last played together, but it didn’t prevent the music from coming together quickly and effortlessly. The benefit of some years of working together- quick communication, both verbal and musical. After a couple of hours of going over details the material we created for the album, “The Point in a Line,” which recorded in Chicago last August, was ready to perform again. After the rehearsal Ingebrigt and I went to a dinner party at Paal Nilssen-Love’s place, Håvard had the good fortune to stay home and finish his packing for a move to Berlin.
The party went late, with discussions ranging from the architecture of the Munch museum to Stravinsky, scotch, and Walt Disney, either making less or more sense as the evening progressed. By the time things wrapped up it made sense to take a nap on Paal and Heidi’s guest mattress instead of heading “home” to the hotel. The next morning, running late to pack and check out of my room to head to Stavanger with Ingebrigt and Håvard to start our tour, I rushed past two accordion players- one in the park near the city theater, the other around the corner from the hotel- both unique in their own right. In the first case, the playing was functional but the instrument sounded like a set of bagpipes that someone had fired upon with a shot gun; in the second case, to call the playing style of the accordionist “casual” would be something of an understatement, indifferent to the extreme would be more accurate. Occasionally placing her fingers on the keys, a couple of tones would perhaps wheeze forth, or not, depending on how little energy she put into getting the instrument to make any sound at all. As I walked past I noticed that she was more interested in the activity of the local birds hunting for crumbs nearby than making any kind of income. What notes she did play actually sounded like they came from an accordion, however, and with a proper introduction the lives of these two musicians could have been altered forever.
Free Fall arrived in Stavanger on the afternoon of the 15th without hassle, and with a nice in-flight nap. The first concert, at Sting (thanks Anne!) was super solid, a mix of the new recording’s compositions and a number of open trio improvisations. The audience was receptive and the band enjoyed hanging out with Paal’s folks afterwards. His father, Terry, was about to have an exhibition of his recent paintings in the upcoming weeks and he sounded quite excited about the new work, describing it as “freer than before.” The band is considering the idea of making a document of our completely improvised playing next year and Terry may supply the cover art, he told us that night that he already has a painting called “Free Fall.” This somehow sounds like it could be appropriate…
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