July 28th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

The Expert

July 28th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

We are all aboard the theory roller coaster!  Rebellion and rigor are walking hand in hand for us right now.  Seems that the more we learn about music, or craft, the greater the urge to jump the gun.
We have never really had a prescribed form of expression.  Nor have we had a staid framework for creativity.  But here we are in a Kung Foo match against The Expert.  Hell yes we know how to fight albeit more philosophically than physically.  Yes we have a killer instinct (again philosophically).  So, in theory, we could potentially take care of business, but it may not be pretty.  Here though, in this improvisation, lies a wealth of creative potential, potential potentially greater than ourselves.  This is an artistic goal.

How much more valuable is a graceful win against The Expert? Is it indeed more valuable? Nine out of ten times we could answer yes, it is.  It would be super bitchen to succinctly beat The Expert via the established rules.  It would show our peers (and the girls) that we possess an understanding and mastery of this system.
Information is too vast in which to operate without parameter.  The web of the world is cast too far to address it all, though this is our tendency.  We understand deconstruction.  But The Expert understands more.  He only eats once a day, and prays between reps.
We move beyond systems sometimes to greater achievement yet we are often bereft.

More Jazz Poems

July 28th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

Be Set


be like us on Facebook
be breathy trumpet,
be swing
be set



Message from Kenya


Message from Kenya:
Nothing But The Soul, Blue Train
Moment’s Notice, Locomotion
I’m Old Fashioned
crazy for you (MF)

Diatomaceous Earth band practice

July 18th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

The Book of Hours

July 18th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

Evolution is the new revolution.  Yeah, that sounds pretty stupid but hey.  Improvisational jazz is built on the raw interplay between respect and risk, production and destruction, structure, control and freedom.  We’re talking about personal freedom and collective freedom.  Jazz began in the early 20th century when African-American musicians stepped out with European music and took it to a new place.  They brought freedom to the smothering control and structure that European classical composers imposed on their music and musicians even in the hottest of frenzies.  The composers of the 19th and 20th centuries that took classical music to eccentric and exciting places – giants like Charles Ives, Arnold Schoenberg, Elliot Carter – still imposed their own wild structures on their performers.  The music may have sounded like it was coming from outer space at the time, but the performers were firmly rooted in the text.  Jazz cats – black jazz cats – threw the rule book out the window and got loose with it all.  The text was still there with all its notes and chords and structures and directives but the performer was free to swing their shit.  Swing was freedom: freedom from convention, formalism, dogma and race.

It’s not a big leap to suppose that the reason freedom was such an important, immediate and often muscular, part of the birth of African-American jazz was because freedom was so palpable to the African-American experience at that time.  Blacks could still taste the salt of freedom on their tongues, and if they couldn’t their parents could.  Freedom was the heart of jazz then and it still is today.  When we are playing with full unspoken understanding of the relationships between what we are each playing and the collective relationship between that and universal tone, tension and resolution, we feel a limitless freedom to go anywhere and play anything with the full comfort and confidence that it will work and it will feel and sound good.  And it does.  If you have ever played and experienced that you know what we are talking about.  If you haven’t, you really should try to because there are few feelings in the world that equal it.  It is absolute personal freedom existing as part and parcel of absolute collective freedom in perfect harmony.  It is what every Buddhist and drug addict spends their lives seeking.

Jazz began as a natural response to imprisonment and Eurocentric dogma and the only cats that could do that were the ultimate outsiders, black Americans, who just happened to have a killer beat in their African bones just one or two generations removed.  But what jazz was and is really getting at is not a narrow experience owned by any one race or culture.  It’s about relationships, harmony, dissonance and resolution.  Which is about race in the micro but in the macro it is about the universe.  So why don’t white guys swing like Duke or pound like Cecil or blow like Trane?  We’re not sure but we suspect it is more of a European problem – and more specifically a British problem – than a white problem.  Plenty of Latino cats can swing and dance and keep a beat.

White Americans still haven’t shaken our British roots and somehow if anything we’ve entrenched them even further.  So it’s perhaps a cultural issue not a racial one in our mind.  But Bill Evans ruled on piano.  And Michael Brecker was as white as they come but that guy was an absolute monster on the horn, although he couldn’t quite shake the funk.  The bigger question isn’t one of white or black jazz, it’s why hasn’t anyone really blown open the jazz scene in decades.  If we’re still talking about Wynton Marsalis as our finest jazz ambassador, we’re in deep shit Stanley.  Jazz ambassador?  That’s nothing more than a maitre d’ to the past.  Expand our minds, anyone!!, make us dizzy make us cry.

The Book of Hours is an ensemble album, composed by Patrick Zimmerli and performed by Zimmerli and Octurn, a contemporary jazz group from Belgium.  Disclosure, we were in the same high school jazz band with Zimmerli and consider him a friend even though we haven’t spoken in years.  He was the finest musician we have played with even to date, far beyond his years in high school.  He could absolutely blow doors on the tenor saxophone and understood music.  Since then, he has gone on to become an accomplished composer of both classical and contemporary jazz.  “Dawn” begins with a dizzying woodwind and brass line that ultimately opens up into a more familiar ensemble sound with the electric bass passing the feather around the rhythm section.  Pat takes a pretty sweet soprano sax solo.  “Interlude (Duet)” is just that, a nice electric bass and trumpet duet – what’s up with your fuzzy romance with the fuzzy warm bass, Pat?  Then we’re into “Morning” and everyone is getting their moment to swing and strut.  Rhythms are complex and playful, melody is soft and natural with just enough dissonant chord twists to keep it from getting schmaltzy.  The recording is as precise and full bodied as the playing.  These cats can play.  Not a sloppy joe in the house.  We say that with a growing sense of apprehension.  Everything is loose and tight in all the right places and we begin to expect clean edges everywhere.

By “Noon” there should be something to knock us off our (b)asses, no?  Not entirely.  Baritone sax takes the lead and we want him to freak out and lose his shit just for a moment.  But he doesn’t.  And we wonder whether we are wanting something that isn’t ours to want.  How much of this music is free improvisation and how much is scored?  Does that matter?  Yes, it probably does.  These guys know exactly what they are doing and where they are going but that’s not very interesting to listen to.  Nice ending though.

Freedom and control are poles easy to fetishize at both extremes.  Here we are dealing with music with an unmistakable control to it and with that comes a coolness that is soothing but also creepy.  Classical Meets Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, New Music, New Fusion God forbid?  Whatever we call it, yes, this music is technically exquisite and compositionally beefy.  But hey, can you spare a Euro a brother?

More Jazz Poems

July 18th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

Mother Lode


I’m always in party mode
ala mode?
no dode
on the road?
yeah I strode
nearly frode
nearly splode
from no abode
then mother lode
and papa gode.




Browned Out


still can’t replicate a jazz sound
I know its around
it’s just browned.

2. Out






Give me pigs feet and a bottle of gin is not like love is a battlefield.



Now You Scream


I like Portland for its cool breezes often and its nice light
its cool
its nice
oh she’s nice
and smart
but I wouldn’t fuck her and if I did I would have to break her damn heart.
another Kill
word association motions to adjourn this meeting.
all in favor say
“hey we want some pussay!”
now you scream.
(we all do)





juicy fruit flys couture dear Abercrombie
These are not cookies, they are Newtons
Well I don’t care you obstreperous brat hole
no, no Im sorry
you can eat them in bed.


July 9th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

Diatomaceous Earth band practice

July 9th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

As we get better at this, we will want Stanley’s input….

July 7th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink

Prepare Thyself to deal with a Miracle by Rashaan Roland Kirk

July 7th, 2012 § Comments Off § permalink


sax and vocal trading notes and pans until both reach their highest unbreaking range, the range before breaking. then Literal breakage.
Female vocal, soulful and mysterious ” MO AH” moans in lament, dignified.  Stanzas, as if to the written page are punctuated by strings plucked and pizzicatoed until a full orchestra of timpani, bells, chimes and mo ah strings move the present horn line, touching base with the melody, proceeding on along via a solemn march as if to war, but a war is not in the field, it seems to be out there somewhere in the exotic (thats right exotic) urban night.
kirks horn wails away in the middle of space
An achievement in improvised music is then evidenced by the bassist placing a savior note and key change just as kirk threateners to disappear into that good and muggy night.

Flute jig melody is gypsy and primal as kirk’s grunts of breath are not only audible but central to the narrative of the tune, a story further unfolding.  The circular dance, whirring around a fire and picasso faces in fast mo comfortable  slows and settles into the finest orchestrated moment of the album:  A bass sound combining all the fine bits of the the electric and acoustic version of the instrument plays an elegant and seemingly simple line.  Oh simple line!  The finesse and pure musicality of the way it is executed is extremely complex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The strength of the tune balances here on the bass that repeatedly takes a turn upward to a high and righteous note group, bringing the string section with as it sits in a truly regal pose.  The chariot is aloft, back up from its time swung so low.  This is sad and noble, like an accepted goodbye.  Yet,  here comes Rashaan Roland Kirk again,  now desperately scatting around and through some kind of horn,  a guttural language that most whites would peg for African, exotic and angry.  A husband pulls his wife closer and Kirk pulls all this crazy musician shit precisely down to land on a pinhead.
PREPARE THYSELF TO DEAL WITH A MIRACLE is an excellent example of music resting blade to blade on the bleeding edge of existence threatening to come apart at any moment, of extreme exploration of outlying territories tethered only by a respect for harmony, beauty, and gratitude.
More on rhythm in a moment

How can one separate race from Jazz? Can these ideas exist seperately (or equally)?  We ask because we recognize a beauty in the music of Rashaan Roland Kirk, among others,  that we have not heard heretofore achieved by white people.  As white musicians aspiring to the greatness that exists in the best jazz, this is a difficult subject and tender situation.   We are jazz musicians (and decent basketball players).
Engaging jazz, we have to recognize and endeavor to understand on a personal, historical, and global level, the politics of race.  Terrifying.  Why? Because we (peoples, governments, sports teams) are racist yet we flag racism as something that we truly detest.  Moreover, our aversion to racism is the bedrock of our personal political philosophies and good person identity.  Our lack of understanding and empathy toward Black culture at large and jazz in particular finds us accepting as fact the image delivered. <3 <3 <3

We are not kidding ourselves that Jazz is anything other than a Black art form.
We hear the anger.   We (peoples, governments, sport teams) think we are so far away from the slave days.
If we, (you and us), can separate race from music, there can be innovation and quality expansion.  Martin Luther King more or less called for this.

  So here is the problem:  Jazz is a playing experience.  Though a potentially epiphany inducing listening emprise, jazz is best experienced through playing.  And, in doing so, one becomes intimately aware that this music is an education in the possibilites of rhythm (a word we have trouble even spelling).  Rhythm, as such, is not congenital to the white man.  This is why we can’t dance or jump (decent basketball players).  Black musicians will always be better jazz players, they are more NATURALLY inclined to RHYTHM.  Well, isn’t that like saying white people are more NATURALLY inclined to be surgeons?  No, that would be a matter of access.

Luckily, we view appropriation as merely another tool with which to create art.

And here we are finding ways to conceive jazz.  We mean, we have always made music but now we want to call it Jazz.  And we want an African American to hear it and call it jazz.  Jazz is much stronger than painting (who the fuck cares if its a painting if you have to ask?).
Here, in this music, we are confronted by our NATURAL RHYTHM.  Ah enough rope to hang ourselves, both of us.
Rhythm is our ideal, honesty is our deal.  And,  alas, we are not from Compton-none of us are.