27 January 2012

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Watched the 3rd in a series of musician documentaries on Tuesday night, “Afijn,” about Misha Mengelberg, directed by Jellie Dekker (who also make the film about Han Bennink that I saw recently); all the historical footage was pretty amazing, and great to hear Misha talk and play at the top of his game. Followed that with the German film, “Robber” (directed by Benjamin Heisenberg); interesting portrayal of a true story about an Austrian marathon runner/bank robber- fascinating narrative told in a fresh way. Wednesday night I had my first concert since the DKV show in Chicago back in December, difficult to have the long break from performing (and this is my only show before I head back to Europe on the 24th of February), but it’s an experiment to see if having the “time off” will get me to consider some things from different creative angles; and it’s been necessary to tackle a bunch of large recording projects, work on Catalytic-Sound, etc. The concert took place at the Hideout: 1st set solo, 2nd set trio with Tim Daisy and Peter Evans. The solo performance was the first that I ever played completely without a “plan” or any compositions. Not having any “strategy” was a risk that I’ve been working towards since I started developing my ideas about playing unaccompanied reed music in the late 90s; there were steps that led to the “template system” employed on “Furniture Music” (my initial solo cd), these led to the composition/open improvisation approach I used for the Pintura Series collaboration with the painter, Richard Hull, which pushed me toward trying to make the leap to Paul Rutherford’s “method” of walking onstage and playing without any pre-planned scheme- but actually making this leap didn’t happen until the Hideout show, I still fell short of this goal when I made, “Mark In The Water,” which was released by Not Two in October. The Hideout was packed and the audience was excellent, really focused and listening, the energy that came back to the stage was really inspiring and I felt extremely positive about finally adopting the “Rutherford system of no system,” the music moved in truly spontaneous ways, I found my way and disrupted the path, forcing risks and problems to deal with throughout the set- physical and challenging music. The 2nd set felt less successful to me. Though I’ve heard Peter Evans in concert on a number of occasions, this was the first time I ever played with him and it felt as if we were at cross purposes much of the time; in addition the incomplete communication between the two of us negatively affected the usually solid dialog that Tim Daisy and I have when we improvise together. Perhaps a complete first time encounter would have succeeded better, or a trio that did not include a long-standing duo within it; ideas seemed to cancel each other out, or things that work between Tim and I in our group seemed out of place or unsuccessful in this trio setting, making our communication seem strangely alien. Everyone on stage kept searching, however, kept trying to find common ground throughout the performance, and there were sections of strong, unique music. If we had had some more gigs in a row I am sure that we would have developed a way of playing Improvised Music together; I remember the first show I did with Nate Wooley and Paul Lytton in Milwaukee and I had a similar impression after the concert, but then we had performances directly after that in Chicago and then New York, and the communication came together quickly over those nights, and the music in NY was exceptional. There’s no question that Peter and Tim are excellent musicians, so I’m sure that a similar process would occur with them with more chances to work together. Hopefully in the future. Thursday night I caught Tim’s band, Vox Arcana, at Elastic- a fine night of music, new material played, older pieces sounding fresh. Great to hear James Falzone and Fred Lonberg-Holm again, it’s been a while. On Friday evening I went to a New Music concert at the AIC with the painter Richard Hull. The program looked really interesting and included pieces by Varese and Xenakis, but I found the performance style of the flautist Claire Chase was so distracting, so “emotive,” that I had to close my eyes to enjoy the music. Both she and percussionist Svet Stoyanov, from the International Contemporary Ensemble, are outstanding instrumentalists, but when music becomes more about “performance” than sound, I lose interest. Disappointing. Footage of the Chicago concert w/Lytton & Wooley: