Ken Vandermark : Nine Ways to Read a Bridge


Eddie Prévost: AMM performed an essential concert in Chicago during the late 1990s. There were a few hundred people in attendance, and the room looked like a who’s who of the cutting edge of city’s music scene at the time, including anyone who was doing anything interesting with electronics to rock to pure improvisation. During the final ten minutes of the performance only John Tilbury made any sound, an extremely quiet repeating motif on piano that he altered slightly with each reiteration. There was a pause between each statement, and every time you thought, “This must be it,” Tilbury found a way to bring it back. I had never heard so much musical tension created with such limited means. In a sense, it could still be playing now, two decades later. In 2001 I was invited to play a duo with Eddie Prévost in Chicago at 6Odum (now long gone) by an organization called Lampo. I was in way over my head, he spoke a language with sound and time that I frankly did not understand. Despite this, Eddie was extremely kind and encouraging to me. In the 13 years since that duo took place, I’ve been studying the aesthetics of AMM and groups like them. When Eddie expressed his willingness to release the music we recorded together with John Tilbury in Høvikodden, Norway at the beginning of 2014 it was one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve ever had.

John Tilbury: Since hearing the AMM performance in Hyde Park, Chicago almost 20 years ago, John Tilbury has been an constant source of inspiration to me. He is one of the few musicians I know who is a major interpreter of composed music (particularly the work of Morton Feldman and John Cage) and an improviser of paramount importance. I initially got to play with him in Nickelsdorf at the 2005 Konfrontationen Festival when John “sat in” with CINC (the trio with Paul Lytton, Philipp Wachsmann, and I, mentioned above). Before our quartet performance, I heard John play a spellbinding solo concert off site and then I rode in a car with him back to the primary festival grounds. He was very friendly and, though I was in awe of him, I figured I might never get another opportunity to talk to him, so I asked what it was like to work on things like Feldman’s music in the early years. He started right in with a story about David Tudor staying at his house when Tudor was in London rehearsing for performances with Merce Cunningham’s dance company. “I quickly found out that David was also a fan of Polish vodka. So, every evening when he got back from rehearsal I’d sit with him and talk over some drinks; we nearly went through a bottle every night. After a few days of this, and very late in the evening, David said to me, ‘You know John, I have to be honest- all this vodka isn’t very good for my piano playing… But it’s great for the electronics!” The concert CINC played that day with John Tilbury was one of the highlights of my career, a performance where the music really seemed to play itself, lifting off the stage and over the audience to some other place where we all watched and heard it. As the concert moved to its conclusion, soft chords played by John came off the piano and blended into the sound of bells ringing from a church nearby, suddenly as if from out of nowhere. It was impossible and timeless; the feeling that his repeating motif in Hyde Park had somehow been picked up by the bells in the distance, 15 years later.

Nate Wooley: My work with Nate Wooley began on an ill-fated documentary soundtrack project that took place during the summer of 2011. To make a long, and seemingly unending, story short- Nate came in at the last minute to record trumpet parts because a domino effect had been caused by a German producer who had suspended funds for filming which meant that the studio session was delayed which forced the initial player to cancel his participation… As Terrie Hessels said (who was also in Chicago to work on the soundtrack with me), “There should be a documentary about the making of this documentary.” Then, as now, Nate proved to be one of the most creative and disciplined musicians I’ve met. Since that initial encounter, our work together has been much more productive and much more stimulating, and for me it began connected to our independent connections to Joe Morris, who brought us together for the quartet performance with Agustí Fernandez mentioned above. Our main project so far has been a duo inspired by the collaboration between John Carter and Bobby Bradford. We toured the States in October of 2013, performing music that we had both composed for the group. That material will come out as a co-production between our labels, The Pleasure of the Text Records and Audiographic Records. Of particular interest to me is Nate’s solo playing. I feel very fortunate to have heard him several nights in a row during Made To Break’s North American tour in April of 2014; his approach to that format, its variety and speculative investigations are a major source of inspiration for me.

-Ken Vandermark, Chicago, August 15, 2015


Thanks to the musicians; to Dave Zuchowski for work above and beyond, to Wendy V., and to Mark Crawford, Lopinski, and Thomas Oxem, for their generosity with supplying the files they recorded; to the concert and festival organizers (including the ones I’m probably missing here…): Peter Burton, Mitch Cocanig, Bruno Johnson, Paal Nilssen-Love, Lasse Marhaug, Mauro Pezzante, Adrienne Pierluissi, Dave Rempis, Marek Winiarski; to El Pricto and Discordian for permission to use the recording of the duo with Agustí Fernandez; to Billions and Arco y Flecha for helping to put me on the road where many of these concerts took place; and to all the listeners.

Special thanks to Marek Winiarski, and for the years in front of us.

1 2 3