“[There was a] shift from aesthetics to ethics; the picture was no longer supposed to be Beautiful, but True- an accurate representation or equivalence of the artist’s interior sensation and experience. If this meant that a painting had to look vulgar, battered, and clumsy- so much the better.”
– Thomas B. Hess
Willem de Kooning, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1968.†
November was filled with music, centering primarily around two large ensembles: the Resonance project, and the Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet. There were parallels (during a week of concerts the full membership of each band was broken down into smaller groups, creating a series of performances featuring different combinations of musicians), and differences (I composed original music for the Resonance project, which was a brand new undertaking including artists that I had never worked with before; the music that the Tentet currently performs is completely improvised, and its10th anniversary celebration in Chicago on December 1st was presented by a lineup that has been stable for many years). This journal entry is going to focus on a discussion of the process that took place first of the first of these two large groups, the work of the Resonance ensemble.
Things began when I arrived in Krakow the day after a concert with Sonore in Tampere, Finland on the 4th of November. After traveling all day by plane(s) I was made to feel right at home, greeted by everyone at Alchemia and put up at “the apartment” where I’ve stayed nearly every time I’ve come to the city to play in the last few years. During the course of my previous weeks in Europe I had composed a few themes to use for the Resonance band (that would include Magnus Broo, Tim Daisy, Per-Åke Holmlander, Dave Rempis, Steve Swell, Mikolaj Tchaska, Mark Tokar, Yuri Yarumchuk, Michael Zerang, all of who would arrive a week later, ready to rehearse), but ninety percent of the music still needed to be written, arranged, and transcribed. This work had to be completed in six days so there wasn’t be much time to goof off while I was in town. The idea for the group was inspired during one of my visits to Krakow in the autumn of 2006, when Marek Winiarski suggested that we work together on a new special project. Not Two had already produced the Vandermark 5 “Alchemia box set” and the double lp, “Four Sides To The Story.” What was next? Sitting around after one of the concerts at Alchemia, I thought about how many times I had been to Poland to perform, and the idea came to me to try and organize a larger band that included musicians from Chicago and players from Poland, bringing the two scenes together. Marek liked the concept immediately. We discussed possibilities and artists, then put together a unique band that was an expansion of the original plan: musicians from Chicago, Poland, New York, the Ukraine, and Stockholm.
Though I wanted to use musicians from Chicago because my connection to Krakow has been so directly tied to projects from originating from home, I was interested collaborating with people that did not only represent the ensembles that had previously come to Poland. I asked Dave Rempis (who has always been an integral factor in translating my musical ideas to other people in the large group projects I’ve done); Tim Daisy (who, through work in the Vandermark 5, Frame Quartet, Bridge 61, and our duo, has been the central drummer for my composition based groups); and Michael Zerang (though we have played together for a decade in the Brötzmann Tentet, this would be the first major project we’d really collaborated on outside of Peter’s band since the Vandermark Quartet folded in 1996).
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