From this point the tour “really began,” time for trains instead of Wilbert’s van. These legs of the tour started in Germany- first stop Köln. As we walked out of the Bahnhof towards our hotel we were greeted with posters for a Daido Moriyama exhibition plastered all over the place- somehow I wasn’t surprised. What was surprising was the strange set of elderly women we saw in the various U-Bahn stations over the next few days. On one afternoon, as Ab and I were hurrying to make a connection on the subway, we passed a woman who made an extremely loud guttural sound as we went by. “What was that?” Ab asked me in a kind of shock. “Some kind of grunt I think. Maybe she thought we were getting too close.” “Oh, thank god,” came the reply, “I thought it was a huge fart.” Others belonging to this assortment of experiences included two women walking around the enormous Berlin train station with coat hangers still inside the shoulders of their coats, and a lady serenely waiting on an underground platform with a falcon on her shoulder.
The gig in Köln at the Loft on October 7th was another move towards the next wave of developments for the quartet project. Each sound check on the tour provided us with a chance to examine the fine points of the pieces and improve the execution of passages and written ideas, and Ab utilized this time to the fullest. His consistent methodology helped put the conception between the members in sync. Ab was also extremely open to input from everyone on ways to make the music work better. For my pieces the same held true, ideas from the band only helped to improve the material. After reviewing the details this way, every concert was seen as an opportunity to dig deeper and reach further with the compositions; we felt free to explore the improvising possibilities since the there were less and less concerns about understanding how the music worked.
The group had a travel day to Berlin, where I met up with Håvard Wiik and Erle, who had recently moved to town. On the afternoon off before the quartet’s gig on the 9th at the Aufsturz, Håvard and I visited the Hamburger Bahnhof museum where my favorite work was the Beuys and the few paintings by Picabia on display. Other hours were spent in bookstores, especially a fine shop where I found a great book based on an exhibition put together by Julien Levy of photographs by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Walker Evans; and Rudy Burckhardt’s, “An Afternoon In Astoria,” as a cut-out! Randomly picking up a design catalog, I opened it directly to a page featuring the layout for a monograph of Moriyama’s photos.
Before our concert the band had dinner with Toby Delius at his apartment. This put us all in a great frame of mind to play a really strong show to a fantastic audience, great to be in this city again after so much time away. From Berlin it was on to Munich to play at Unterfahrt where I saw an old friend, Colin Gilder, who I’ve known since the NRG Ensemble days more than a decade ago. He was an organizer and driver on some of our early trips to Europe. The first time I met him we had an overnight journey by van and I sat in front to help him stay awake with conversation. Of course within five minutes I was promptly asleep. When I woke up hours later with the sun streaming through the windshield he was still talking so I guess he didn’t mind me sleeping too much.
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