27 April 2007


Artist statement

“We look at most of the sculptures without incident. But, when we come to the scooter bird, the publisher whispers in my ear: ‘Don’t bother to photograph it. It’s more an object than a sculpture.’ Picasso, who hears and understands everything, whom nothing escapes, suddenly turns toward him, and, pointing to The Bird, says sharply: ‘I absolutely insist that this sculpture appear in my album!’ When the publisher leaves the studio an hour later, Picasso is still seething.

‘An object! So my bird is just an object! Who does that man think he is, to tell me, Picasso, what is or is not a sculpture! He’s got some nerve! I just might know more about it than he does. What is sculpture? What is painting? Everyone’s still clinging to outdated ideas, obsolete definitions, as if the artist’s role was not precisely to offer new ones.’”

from “Conversations With Picasso,” (University of Chicago Press: 1999), by Brassaï and translated by Jane Marie Todd, pg. 69.



The plan: return from a long fall and winter in Europe, followed by a month and a half of straight touring, and lay low for March and April- almost no concerts in Chicago, just time to think and design some plans for future work. The reality: two frantic months finishing up projects, traveling back and forth to Europe to perform, fixing broken schedules, composing, rehearsing, and of course some concerts (listening and playing).

I got back to Chicago after the Vandermark 5 tour on February 18th, slept for a couple of days, then caught James Falzone’s group, Klang (with Jason Adasiewicz on vibes, Jason Roebke on bass, and Tim Daisy on drums) at the Hideout on Wednesday the 21st. James is a great clarinet player, some touches of Giuffre, and I think this is a fantastic ensemble with strong writing and excellent group rapport. I had come to the show from a rehearsal with the composer Andrew Morgan, who was visiting from Spain and England to work on some projects, including a reprise of a project we had done together in London about a year and a half ago, with me improvising over a suite of new music he had put together. Andrew adapted that material for the Chicago gig and the changes were fine improvements, the composition had a better flow and stronger components than before. Our concert took place the following night at Elastic, the group was comprised of musicians he knew during his music studies at DePaul University some years ago, and it proved to be a very nice gig- several steps forward with both the compositional and improvisational frameworks. Andrew is working out a plan to bring the project back to London sometime this fall, to further refine it and perhaps document the material. On the 27th and 28th I mixed the new Free Fall album, recorded last August, with Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and the engineer Jason Ward. The music sounded great. There are eight new compositions put together by the different members of the band and four improvised duos that are used as segues between the written pieces. The band has a tour in Scandinavia this September and we’ll have this new album out in time for that trip.

March began with another mixing session, this time for the Atomic School Days recordings made with Bob Weston live at the Green Mill last April. Right now there isn’t a release date, but the mix took place because there was a rare occasion when Ingebrigt, Jeb Bishop, and myself were all in town at the same time. It was a chance to get that part of the recording process completed- who knows when we’ll all be around and available again? It took three full days of work to finish all the material, the most difficult mixing job I’ve been faced with in years. Part of the issue was the number of instruments and players involved (Jeb: trombone, Magnus Broo: trumpet, Ingebrigt: acoustic bass, Fredrik Ljungkvist: tenor and Bb clarinet, Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, Kjell Nordeson: vibes, myself: baritone and bass clarinet, Haavard Wiik: piano), part of the issue was the complexity and variety of the compositions (everyone brought in new material to record), part of the issue was the proximity of the drums to the other instrumentalists… A lot was going on at all times. The end result, however, is a sweetheart of an album, two cds of dynamite new music for Okka Disk. Now we need some gigs!

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