14 February 2008

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Artist statement

“So that was what was going on at the turn of the century, that’s almost sixty years ago, say. So actually experimental prosody has been the main tradition in American and English poetry for the better part of the this last century. And so one may say that it is the “Tradition” that the younger poets in America are working on, it’s the “real tradition.” And the paradox is that these younger poets who were working in this tradition have been accused of being aesthetic anarchists, of not working in any “tradition” at all. Unfair! Ignorant accusation! And the problem was that most of the people in the academies, as Pound pointed out very early, were so backward technically, that they didn’t know what was happening to prosody, and naturally it was the poets that were inventing new forms, the academy didn’t catch up with them, the academy itself didn’t study hard enough to find out what was happening. And most professor-critics were not prepared, the ears in the academy were not tuned to recognize what specific forms were being used. So old formalists were not refined enough to be able to recognize and judge new forms and to hear them, much less analyze them, because academic types didn’t recognize anything as “formal” unless t sounded like a familiar nineteenth-century type of form-rhymed accentual quatrains.”

– Allen Ginsberg
from “Allen Ginsberg spontaneous mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996,” (Perennial: 2002), edited by David Carter, pg. 112.

 

(Vienna/Berlin)

Work completed in London, it was time to head to Vienna. So, on October 26th, I arrived by plane in time to check into the Fürstenhof (my road-apartment at this point), meet Guenter from the Blue Tomato, and head to a dinner party with the writer Klaus Nüchtern and some folks to discuss what to do about the C.O.D.E. project. Klaus had contacted me in the spring, while I was on tour in Europe with Pandelis Karayorgis, to see if I’d be interested in working with some musicians from Vienna to record compositions by Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy (hence the anagram). It seemed like a good opportunity to work with a set of musicians I didn’t know, and I agreed to the idea. Because of scheduling problems it turned out that the spring session wouldn’t work, so everyone involved planned for the fall when I could be in Vienna between tours and the other players would also be in town. Everything seemed to be moving forward- the leader of the project (who will remain nameless) had picked material, most of which he sent to me in jpegs while I was on tour with Ab Baars earlier in October. He was in the process of sending some final original compositions while I was in London, when I got a message that, despite being the leader head organizer, he had suddenly decided to back out. Since this was little more than a week before our planned concert at the Blue Tomato and the recording session directly following, there was hardly any time to sort out a plan B; some pretty interesting e-mail correspondence shot around between everyone left involved.

Over a dinner of homemade goulash and Czech beer, Klaus, the drummer Wolfgang Reisinger, Guenter, and some other musician friends of Klaus’ discussed ideas about what we should do. Going ahead with the concert was a “yes;” we would rehearse the following day at Wolfgang’s place with Mathias Pichler on bass and Wolfgang’s friend, Andy Manndorff, as an addition on guitar. Since there wasn’t time to come up with another set of material we would use the Ornette and Dolphy pieces originally selected for the project. The idea of trying to record at that time was put on hold (now planned for the end of March with Wolfgang and Max Nagl and Clayton Thomas, since Mathias was already booked). Our rehearsal the following afternoon went well; after all the last minute confusion I actually felt like we’d be able to play a decent concert the next night.

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