Per-Åke suggested the basement button. I hit it. The elevator quickly dropped one floor and the doors opened- we were suddenly standing backstage. Sitting directly before us, alone and waiting calmly for us to arrive, was the tuba.
We got home along snowy streets and had a party with whoever was awake enough to celebrate, which meant pretty much everyone in the band and their friends. As usual, Ellen took care of everything social with real panache. Even exhausted it felt very, very good to have those moments together with everyone. December 1st, 2007 goes down as a great night. Now forward into the second decade for the band!
The next morning Paal and I needed to teach a workshop at the Experimental Sound Studio. Thankfully this was just up the road from where we went to sleep at dawn. Lou Mallozzi had organized a series of three improvisation classes (Mats Gustafsson/Michael Zerang, and Per-Åke/Fred Lonberg-Holm also taught one) at ESS, and these courses helped provide essential funds to the Tentet budget, aiding the group to come to Chicago. Somehow Paal and I made it to the workshop on time, and after drinking about a gallon of coffee we were able to play and discuss music with the half dozen or so participants.
Later in the day, Paal and I met up with Nate McBride for some dinner at his place, then we all headed to the Hungry Brain to catch the third concert of small group sessions by the Tentet members. We walked in moments after the “trombone choir” had begun: Johannes, Jeb, Joe on Clifford Thornton’s valve trombone, and Per-Åke playing the cembasso. This subset of the Tentet brass section had come together several times during last year of performances by the ensemble, so organizing a circumstance that focused on this instrumentation made a lot of sense. The music they played was electrifying and fantastic, completely unique in its sonority and style. Though it was a Sunday night, the Brain was packed to the rafters and I was told that it was one of the biggest audiences the series had ever had. Nate, Paal, and I were packed all the way to the back of the club at the end of the bar, but even from so far away it was clear how great the music was. To follow such a strong set? A sextet with Peter, Jeb, Michael, Kent, and a couple of the younger musicians in town- Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Tim Daisy- all packed onto a cramped stage and equally burning.
© 2021 Ken Vandermark – musician & composer | Disclaimer