15 January 2014


1/12/14: The trio concert with John Tilbury and Eddie Prevost took place at the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter. Tilbury’s discipline is extremely impressive- after soundcheck (which felt electric and great, tons of anticipation for the performance) he practiced material he needed to perform on the following Tuesday at Cafe Oto in London. Before us Agnes Hvizdalek did a short solo set but I didn’t listen to it in order to keep my head as clear as possible before my gig with John and Eddie. Instead, I looked at the small part of the permanent collection on display, particularly the Schwitters- his abstract collages and representational paintings made me think of Tilbury’s split between interpreting composer’s work and his improvised music. From the start the trio’s performance was riveting and super intense, with some of the most extreme dynamics I’ve ever dealt with. Tilbury used minor preparations on the piano; Prevost used his AMM percussion set up. The acoustics in the room were ideal, and the audience (about 200) was superb- the focus in the room from the musicians and listeners was extreme. The concert was a revelation for me, and I was forced to work at low dynamic levels, needing to find a new set of vocabulary “on the spot.” To have this performance properly recorded was such a gift; and then the Monday session felt quite “open,” the pressure “off” since we had such good music already documented. I felt that my preparations and practice in Chicago (specific work on unconventional materials) and reviewing the music of AMM in the days before the concert were extremely helpful, as were my attempts to keep focused as to why I’m here- not hanging out all night, but keeping disciplined and driven toward music. Afterward I had a really great dinner with John and Eddie, PIKA (who was very sweet and entertaining), and members of the All Ears organization. I talked for a while with Tilbury about his work on Morton Feldman’s music, recording it (dealing with the nearly 5 hour piece, “For Phillip Guston”). Getting tempo finally right for “Patterns In a Chromatic Field” (“The slower I got the better it worked; then about halfway through I turned the page and 5 p’s!!”). He told me a great joke about German going to a beautiful small Irish village and finding 2 large clock towers in the center of town, set to different times. “Why? It doesn’t make sense, this would never happen in Germany.” “Why would we need 2 clock towers if they were set to the same time?”

1/13/14: Started the day with an espresso with Tilbury, got into a brief discussion about writers and poetry and the talk moved to Ginsberg’s interest in Blake, his passion for writers and his knowledge of the history of poetry. John responded that Ginsberg was so passionate about these facts because it was his life, for most academics everything is about career. During the ride back to the Henie Onstad Junstsenter Tilbury talked about Beckett’s musicality and the performances of Krapp’s Last Tape he had done, and that there was little difference in following Beckett’s stage directions and language, and that of a musical score. The trio recorded two long pieces with a break for coffee and a sandwich in between. The first piece was about an hour long, tension through stasis, small expansions in volume and density, but more austere than the concert performance the day before- the control I needed with sounds, tones and textures was extreme. For the second piece Tilbury did extensive preparations on the piano. During the break he and Prevost asked the engineer (again, Thomas Oxem, who was transparent in the best sense- he let us focus on playing with complete confidence that he was taking care of the documentation) what he thought about the comparison between the concert performance and the initial piece at Monday’s session. I heard him say that the concert felt more dynamically varied and quickly left the concert hall because I didn’t want to be influenced by his statements. When the trio started the second piece it was clearly moving in a more aggressive manner, vigorous and velocities rapidly shifting. Eddie got up from his percussion set up and walked the perimeter of the hall creating overtones on a mounted cymbal during a quieter section- I want to hear this on the recording, it was fascinating in person. This second performance was 40 minutes, concise and completely different than the other two improvisations. All three had specificity and character and I am curious to see what we decide to do with this music. It may be ego, but my first response was to release all three pieces as a collection. John again practiced after the session ended, for nearly an hour. His focus is incredible. Before that he showed me how the preparations on the piano work, the “bell” sounds are coins, the “metallic percussion” are bolts. After packing up and heading back into town, I shifted accommodations to Paal’s apartment. He made a great dinner and we talked over our perspectives on All Ears, which by general assessment was a huge success in terms of the quality of music and audience response/attendance. As always there were creative ups and downs, but definitely more ups for sure. Talking to Paal is always refreshing because he’s more honest that politically correct and I always learn something from what he hears and sees. Got the DCASE grant done late at night with Kate’s assistance, we’ll see where that goes…

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