Sunday, February 11, 2007

Grey, Grey, Greeeeeeeey......

Vancouver on a Sunday afternoon. Grey, grey, grey... reminds me of Beckett's Endgame. Clov looks out the window; Hamm asks eagerly what Clov sees. "Grey, grey, greeeeeyyyy...." Kind of like Vancouver from September to May. Nonetheless, this is an extraordinarily beautiful city. In the airport, flight delayed an hour, so I'm 3.5 hours early instead of 2.5. Thats what you get for getting a lift with people who have earlier flights than you. Oh well, gives me a chance to catch up on stuff.

Listening to the mastered version of forthcoming Convergence 4tet release. Man, the gentleman who mastered this live recording did an excellent job. Brought Taylor Ho Bynum and Dominic Lash up in the mix so that they're more present, same for Alex Hawkins. Did something to my sound so I'm not quite as loud as the rough mix. The way we set up for the gig, the drums were way too far in the front of the mix. I'm amazed that the mastering engineer accomplished as much as he did. I feel a little too present still, frankly, but its much better. Look for this recording sometime in 2007 hopefully. I'll be posting about it when its released.

Just completed a lovely 4-night Time Flies Improvised Music Festival here in Vancouver. Nice instrumentation: 4 strings, tenor/soprano sax, voice, piano/electronics, percussion. Bassist Torsten Muller serves as co-curator and organizer of each night's groupings. The first day/night was actually a series of workshops with students at Vancouver Community College with each ensemble performing that night. The next three nights were different groupings of the eight of us over three sets each night. Nice crowds throughout, enthusiastic response, great venue (congrads coastal jazz on adding Ironworks to your venue list - the place rocks), and overall lots of interesting music.

There was lots of discussion each night amongst the musicians about the structure of each set. Torsten organized three trios or duos per set each of the first two nights, and there was some feeling that each 10-15 minute piece was not long enough. The third night ended up as somewhat of a compromise; two 20-25 minute second 4tet pieces the first set, two 15 minute duos in the second, the fourth duo and two long quartets in the third.

We had a lovely mix of personalities; what a treat to work with John Butcher. I've been fortunate to play with him a couple of times in the UK, and am always blown away by his vocabulary and mastery. Also a treat to see Phil Minton live for the first time and get to work with him. There are few improvising vocalists that move me, and Phil's timing and sense of form are without equal. His command of vocal multiphonics was astonishing, as was his lexicon of whistles, growls, and breath sounds. No histrionics here. A treat also to meet and play with Eyvind Kang, Cor Fuhler, Peggy Lee, and Hasse Paulsen. Eyvind is a gorgeous violist, great guy, deep thinker and mellow-but-voracious consumer of disparate ideas (from dickinson to husserl to susan howe). I enjoyed our late-night listening sessions to his mixed tapes on his radio shack $30 special (schubert-feldman-tommy dorsey-raymond scott-john kirby-mozart). I enjoyed Cor's dry wit, his fantastic explorations of the inside of the piano with electronics, ebow, snooker balls, and more. Hasse and I had a cathartic rocked-out duo amidst so many otherwise austere sets. We also enjoyed a soggy but beautiful day up at Cypress Mountain... my first and probably only day of snowboarding this year. And thank goodness by the third night I got a chance to play with Peggy Lee. Somehow in the groupings that Torsten laid out Peggy and I kept ending up missing each other. The penultimate group of the third set last night was Butcher, Torsten, Peggy and I, and I must say it was amongst my favorite. And always a pleasure spending time with Torsten. A generous, hilarious guy, we always have a great time playing together and the hang is first-rate. Bravo to Coastal jazz and Blues for continuing the Time Flies festival, probably the longest-running of its kind in North America. And the sushi in Vancouver...... yummmmm!

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