“One is propelled to make what one has not yet made, nor seen made. What one does not yet know how to make.”
– Philip Guston
from “The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts,” (Routledge: 2002), edited by Steven Johnson, pg. 191.
THE FRAME QUARTET TOURS EUROPE
A nice flight from Boston through Heathrow which got me to Brussels to meet Tim Daisy, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Nate McBride about 4 hours late and without my luggage. About 50 other people also arrived without their bags so at least it wasn’t personal. After giving our details to the missing luggage office all the passengers were given consolation packages by the airline. They included a swell t-shirt, the smallest tube of toothpaste devised by man, and a tiny deodorant that evaporated as soon as the cap came off; all to make us feel fresh and welcome on our arrival to Belgium- thank you British Airways.
My things arrived late the next day, so I made the best of it in my sporty t-shirt while the band rehearsed to prepare for our gig at the Come Sunday festival in Antwerp, on January 14th. Having the time to review and hone the new compositions was a necessity, and having two extra days to prepare for our concert was just fantastic.. Sal Mosca was also playing at the festival, getting a chance to meet him was a real honor. His solo set before the Frame Quartet’s performance was beautiful. Our gig went well, though no one told us we were supposed to play an hour and a half until after the concert was over (our understanding was that we were supposed to play a standard festival set, about 45-50 minutes), and when we finished there was no indication from the audience that they wanted to hear more. We felt badly about the discrepancy, especially since we had more material to play and would have loved to have done so. Apologies to the fans who came to the festival and expected to hear a longer performance from us, next time for sure.
From Antwerp the quartet headed to Germany for concerts in Köln and Mannheim. The first gig (on the 15th) was good, music coming along solidly and the principles behind the “immediate structures” were articulated more clearly. The audience was quite fine as well. The next night in Mannheim was tough. First, we had to use a PA because the room was enormous, and this meant dealing with a sound-man. And as usual, the soundcheck was a complete waste of time. From the first note of the concert it was obvious that he had reorganized the balance of the band despite having to spend an hour an a half trying to explain what we were looking for. In addition, he decided to add a sea of reverb to the saxophone so for the first part of the gig it sounded like we were playing from the bottom of an elevator shaft. The good news was that the murk hardly mattered since there was almost no one there to hear it.
Things picked up after this, however. The two concerts in Austria (Salzburg on the 18th and Nickelsdorf on the 20th) were both very well attended despite outrageously bad weather. (Something like a hurricane hit Germany, which forced the train system to be closed down for the first time in history.) It felt to me that the audiences in Austria were the first to really understand the architecture of the Frame Quartet’s music. The compositions don’t follow the flow and rules of standard jazz, each piece gets cut apart and reassembled in ways that even the band can’t fully determine or predict, and the listeners at the Austrian shows really responded to the challenge of these methods.
© 2023 Ken Vandermark – musician & composer | Disclaimer