Dance to the Music of Time

There’s been a lot going on. Leaving the Bad Plus is the largest shift, but various other kind of career and conceptual themes also have been undergoing transformation. I also just turned 45, ” which could be believed midpoint of this journey.

It really all does seem curved. Themes re-occur. The last month nearly felt like a trip of yesteryear.

Sarah and I visited Daniel Pinkwater. There is a meme inquiring, “What four pictures are you?” I really don’t have four pictures, but I really do have the collected works of Daniel Pinkwater. Alan Mendelsohn, Boy From Mars; The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death; Lizard Music — these 3 novels “are me”

Sarah stated, let’s give Pinkwater a monster. That monster charge me a small fortune in Tokyo, but she had been right. It had been the great present, a perfect trade.

On the drive we listened to Pinkwater music books in the car. Amazing! I only learned that Mr. Pinkwater himself reads his own books and you can purchase them on iTunes. They are now an essential part of my travel catalog.

Rufus Reid turned in the Pat Zimmerli Clockworks concert at Merkin Hall. Rufus is a consecrated jazz bassist, but for me he had been also an important teacher. One afternoon at Banff in 1990, students and faculty were sitting around the coffee shop and Miles Davis’s “Bye Bye Blackbird” came on as background music. Rufus Reid staged together with Coltrane’s solo note for note. I had been impressed and impressed. To understand to perform, was I really going to have to sing Coltrane solos also? That seemed hard — too difficult! It took me decades and some further strict instruction from Lee Konitz, however, in the long run I decided that Reid was perfect. I can not sing any Coltrane yet, but I can sing a lot of Lester Young and Charlie Parker.


Photo by Vinnie Sperrazza

Seeing Reid brought back that memory and from this time next year I guarantee to have the ability to sing Coltrane’s “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “All of You” from ‘Round About Midnight.

I added ” You” to the heap because Billy Hart told me:

The first time I fell in love with John Coltrane was that his solo on ” You” from Miles’ ‘Round Midnight. I have talked to Gary Bartz about this, and he felt exactly the same way–which this solo made us Coltrane fans, forever.

Billy Hart is my most important teacher and we have worked together for over twenty decades. However, I hadn’t ever played with Buster Williams and Billy Hart collectively, despite Buster and Billy being universally considered one of the wonderful bass/drum mixes.

It finally occurred on Tuesday, quartet together with Billy Harper. Everybody agreed that it was incredible to listen to the beat played with that bassist with that drummer.

Billy Hart, Lenny White, Buster Williams

Lenny White was there. He plays with Buster all the time — they have become a traditional contemporary rhythm section — but I think he wished to find a flavor of that other thing Mchezaji has with Jabali. In the dressing room I had been as silent as possible while I listened to them tell stories.

Billy Hart talked about studying Afro Cuban songs from Lenny White! They were playing with Pharoah Sanders. Neither was playing with drum group, they were on cowbells and claves. Afterwards Billy whined to Lenny about how Lenny appeared so much better and Lenny said that he was actually checking out authentic Afro Cuban songs. This anecdote describes in a flash Lenny White was able to walk into and power a lot of the best fusion recordings: The deep background for its “new” method of dealing with the eighth circa 1970 was African American procedures from tens of thousands of years back. Of course.

Patrick Zimmerli’s Clockworks  together with Chris Tordini, John Hollenbeck, and me personally is out, and so is — finally — Shores Against Silence, the recording with Kevin Hays, Larry Grenadier, and Tom Rainey from 1991. I had been at that recording session, and discovered “The Paw” for the very first time in the studio. Pat provides me a particular mention in the liner notes to Shores Against Silence, which I think is only fair, as I’ve been telling people that this is an amazing album since…well I figure since 1991.

Vinnie Sperrazza is getting to be a major new collaborator. At the Clockworks position that he appeared in the score and stated, “I can hear Pat had been an effect on you” Without a doubt — Pat will always be a monument in my own entire life, which is elaborated further in our interview.

Vinnie took the photograph of me and Rufus Reid collectively afterwards telling me of a period he played with James Williams and Rufus Reid in Knickerbocker’s. Yeah, Vinnie’s my type of cat, with a swinging cymbal beat that undulates inside the music. We’re working collectively in Pepperland, the extravagant revue created by Mark Morris for the Mark Morris Dance Group.

It is just wonderful to be back together with Mark Morris back again. For five years that I had been his musical manager. I watched the dance shows every night, then following the series went to Mark’s hotel room and listened to Handel and Partch. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson would attend rehearsal; I played with Schumann with Yo-Yo Ma. It had been around me to attract conductors in line about tempi and singers around diction.

Pepperland is the Beatles as viewed though the prism of classical music and it really works. It’s been really amazing to expose Vinnie and other buddies Jacob Garchik, Sam Newsome, and Rob Schwimmer to the magic of Morris. In addition, it is just incredible to leave the Bad Plus and also be instantly involved in another hit project.

Concerto to Scale reflects Morris, Zimmerli, Jabali, and everything else that I love. It surely reflects Pinkwater. Program notes:

My very first piece for orchestra is blatantly modest in measurement, or “to scale” While composing, I re-read a number of my favourite books from when I was a young adult and tried to catch that kind of joyful emotion. The work is devoted to John Bloomfield.

Allegro. Sonata form in C major with tons of scales. My left hand and the bass drum soloist are the rhythm section offering syncopations in conversation with the orchestra’s standard chain material.

Andante. A 19th-centutry nocturne air meets modern polyrhythms. That is a stunning elaboration of a piece originally written for Mark Turner called “We Come In the Future.”

Rondo. The rate mark is, “Misfit Rag.” Ragtime is how American composers traditionally insert a touch of jazz on the concert stage, and who am I to disagree? The orchestra gets a chance to improvise along with the pianist and percussionist enjoy a double cadenza.

I didn’t really have to re-read Pinkwater for the Concerto — I have these publications memorized — but that I did examine The Toothpaste Millionaire from Jean Merrill (1972) and Alvin’s Secret Code by Clifford B. Hicks (1963). These two are undisputed classics and remain in print. Interestingly, both will also be on race relations, a simple fact I had completely forgotten. They are white writers referring to the midwest in the 1960s, therefore perhaps not every authorial decision will beyond muster now, but they had been in there, trying to swing. They had been about my two favourite novels when I was ten or eleven. I had good taste!

The review by Seth Colter Walls was satisfying (Amanda Ameer said I look just like  Schroeder in the picture, which is ideal) and I have been astonished just how much I enjoy listening to the cassette.

(if you would like to listen to the rough mix of this premiere or examine the score, sign up for Floyd Camembert Reports.)

Between Pepperland and the Concerto, it’s beginning to feel as though my future will involve extended composition.

Composition might be part of this future, but additionally, I will always be a jazz pianist who enjoys to play with clubs. Starting tomorrow I am on an extensive UK tour together with Martin Speake.

20/4 Sheffield Jazz Crookes Social Club
21/4 Brighton Verdict
22/4 Colchester Arts Centre
23 Cheltenham Jazz
24/4 London Pizza Express
25/4London Pizza Express
26/4 St George’s Bristol
27/4 Reading Progress Theatre
29/4 Cinnamon Club Manchester
1/5 Hastings
3/5 Cambridge
4/5 Poole Lighthouse

Go to Martin’s FB site to get more.

Martin and I go back to Banff in 1990. It was a hell of a lineup there: Faculty included Rufus Reid, Marvin Smitty Smith, Stanley Cowell, Kevin Eubanks, Kenny Wheeler. Abraham Adzenyah taught dance from Ghana — I suppose the very first time I danced with a woman was in that course. (Currently this post is becoming overly personal.) Steve Coleman was the artistic manager.

The students were also amazing. Tony Malaby, Seamus Blake, Ralph Alessi, George Colligan, John Stetch, Andy Milne — Jeez, I know I am forgetting some others that are now renowned…

Particularly important to my artistic growth were Benoît Delbecq and Steve Argüelles, that went on for a real force collectively and big influence. With Noël Akchoté they turned into The Recyclers and released Rhymes in 1994. You want to understand something that I checked out? Rhymes was some thing that I checked out, especially the monitor “Suguxhama” from  Argüelles and Django Bates.

(Later, motivated by David King and Craig Taborn, I’d listen to all the fantabulous Django Bates records together with Martin France on drums. It turns out that France is going to be on several gigs of this Martin Speake tour. Wow! I’m going to have to play with Martin France for the very first time.)

At Banff 2 duo connections had notable resonance. The fantastic Jill Seifers (a wonderful vocalist who ended up dying far too young) and that I did a set in the little Banff club which I listened to repeatedly. Along with Martin Speake and that I created a recording which was enormous fun, he is splendid lyrical participant that sees it from all the angles.

At the Vortex gig earlier this year, Martin told the audience that after we met with Banff, I delivered him (by post from Menomonie, Wisconsin to London, England) a tape of Ornette Coleman’s then-scarce Science Fiction accompanied by a note on Doctor Who stationery. Yes It really does all seem curved. Themes re-occur. I openly admit I can’t wait to get Jodie Whittaker.

Writer with George Colligan.

Writer with Benoît Delbecq.

Writer with Django Bates.

Stanley Cowell plays “Carolina Shout” in my James P. Johnson event.