24 August 2012

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An incredible stretch of music at the end of August that started with listening to John Tilbury perform the “Sonatas & Interludes for prepared piano” by John Cage, at the Meteo Festival in Mulhouse, France, on the 22nd. It was the best concert I’ve heard in years, and the first time I was able to hear this work by Cage live. I left the Chapelle Saint-Jean in awe and hit with the feeling that I had just experienced something equivalent to hearing Glenn Gould play Bach’s “Goldberg Variations.” As I walked out I bumped into the clarinetist, Michael Thieke (who was about to do a concert with The International Nothing), and it seemed as if we both had the feeling that it would be next to impossible to follow Tilbury’s performance with anything that wouldn’t feel like a let down. That night I played with iTi (Johannes Bauer, Thomas Lehn, Paal Nilssen-Love) in the blistering heat, a strong set of irrational (in the best sense) music. The next evening, also in Mulhouse, I listened to Atomic play a brilliant set in the brutal heat and then followed that with a gig with Fire Room (Lasse Marhaug, Paal), which felt like an even stronger concert than the one the night before with iTi, the trio taking ideas about deconstruction and simultaneity and pushing them to the limit. I’m not sure why Paal and I were booked with 2 groups in 2 nights at the same festival that both featured musicians working with electronics, but Thomas and Lasse are such different players that creating clear distinctions between the two bands was a straightforward task. In the morning of the 24th Håvard Wiik and I got onto a plane to head to Munich for a long ride to Saalfelden, Austria for a gig with Side A. The performance circumstances of our concert were something all too typical- we had not played as a trio with Chad Taylor since October 15th, 2011, there was no time to meet for a proper rehearsal before our concert, we only had an hour to run-through the material in the afternoon before the show. If you work with great musicians like Håvard and Chad it’s possible to pull something like this off, but it’s always nerve wracking. It seems that, one way or another, we’re always fighting the limitations of time. Despite this challenge, the music went so well (extraordinary audience!) it underscored the fact that Side A should to get back together to record and tour; plans were immediately made backstage to do so in the summer of 2013. After packing up I ran into Wadada Leo Smith, who gave me a copy of his new recording, “Ten Freedom Summers,” talked highly of the talk we did on the BBC and of Side A, mentioned the possibility of working together in the future which, if it happened, would be a truly amazing experience for me. As stated at the top- an incredible stretch of music. Side A in Saalfelden: