issue 4 :: Summer, 1997

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Interview: Anthony Coleman

This interview was conducted in New York City in June, 1994 in a small deli somewhere on the East Side. Seth Tisue and Kim Van Winkle were very helpful in editing this piece.
—Josh Ronsen
What are you working on now?
My main project that I’m really really working on is a project called the Selfhaters, or Selfhaters, actually, not the Selfhaters, there’s a difference. And it’s one word: Selfhaters. And it comes from the fact that there are all these radical Jewish/New Jewish Culture Concerts and Festivals going on, especially since this festival that I’m wearing the t-shirt for: Art Project 1992, two days of radical Jewish culture that John Zorn organized, and then I’ve done a Knitting Factory tour of Radical New Jewish Cultural whatever-they-called-it. And it’s great, it’s great. I mean I’m happy about it, but the problem is, everybody has been leaning towards some version of klezmer, and I’m getting to the point where I just couldn’t bear to do another version of klezmer. So, I’ve had to come up with different ways [of making new Jewish music]. The first thing I did was a piano trio with Greg Cohen on bass and Joey Baron on drums. That’s a record, it’s going to be out on Avant, or Acada, John Zorn’s other label, and there I took songs from Sephardic music, from Spanish Jewish music, and I blended it together with Salsa-influenced jazz composers who had used Spanish music in their music, like “Bye-Ya” by Monk and some of Jelly Roll Morton pieces which he talks about Spanish tinge, so put those together and that’s coming out on record, and my own pieces which are influenced by meringue and salsa, things that when I was living on 160th St. which is a very Dominican neighborhood. Latin music is a very interesting sub-culture music in New York because it’s so much around and so few people know anything about it who are not in the Latin community. I mean it’s like jazz, it’s OK, on one level it started out as a sub-culture music, but now everybody knows the masterpieces of jazz. But how many jazz musicians and improvisers and rock musicians don’t know any of the masterpieces of Latin music? So I was lucky when I was working with Don Byron, he turned me on to a lot of things. But I had been around Latin musicians, in high school I went to Music and Art High School uptown in New York, and a lot of the great young Latin players went there, because Latin band leaders didn’t like to spend a lot of money, so they always had a lot of high school kids in their bands, like Willy Colone always had high school kids, and Tito Puente, so I knew the music, the music was always there and I grew up in Brooklyn in a very Latin neighborhood, but if you said what’s the best Eddie Palmieri record I would have said “The Sun of Latin Music” because I read it in a book, because someone had written a book and said “wow, the Sun of Latin Music is one of his masterpieces,” but if you had said what’s your favorite tune on it, “fuck, I don’t know.” But now I own all these things, now I’m very happy with them, yeah, I think “Solito” is my favorite, I don’t actually own “Sun Of Latin Music,” but... That was that, and that was one way of dealing with it, dealing with the Spanish Jewish thing, the Ladino influence.
How does it sound? I’ve heard a lot of klezmer... [a lot = a little. -Ed.]
It sounds really weird, because it’s kind of Jewish in terms of the North African scale, but it definitely sounds Spanish, too, and it sounds very... um, there are a lot of Ladino people who live in the Balkans, too, and I’ve always been influenced by Balkan music, more than I would say by klezmer. I’ve spent a lot of time in Yugoslavia. It sounds Balkan in places, and the language is really crazy, because it looks like Spanish, but it is not at all. Elias Canetti, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature [in 1981], he was born in Bulgaria and his first language was Ladino, for example. So in a sense, it is hard to say what it sounds like, it sounds vaguely how you would imagine North African/Jewish would sound. [hums] ...with that interesting minor mode, with a lot of minor seconds. But it’s definitely not klezmer, so this was good. I was happy with it. I did that, made the record, tried a couple of different rhythm sections, and ended up with Joey [Baron]and Greg [Cohen], which was the same rhythm section for John Zorn’s Masada, and it’s a phenomenal rhythm section, phenomenal, but the upshot being that this music will never be performed live, because [laughs] unless I can resurrect Ed Blackwell or something, otherwise not, because Joey does his thing with Frisell, with projects of John and with his own band and it doesn’t leave him much time to do anything else. He’s a great person, a great drummer, but a very hard person to bring down, especially if you’re talking about performing or doing a tour, it’s pretty much out of the question.
Is there a lot of improvising in this?
Oh yeah, but more than improvising, there’s a lot of improvising, but the main thing is that Joey has this kind of way that he interacts with people, he’s definitely not one of these people who goes in concerts and lies on the ride cymbal, he’s really thinking about all the parts he is doing and he really composes with you, I mean he just only does his thing, he can take a lot of direction and he brings so much his thing to it, he has so much drive. I remember going to see Miniature gigs and tuning out the saxophone and cello and just listening to Joey. So, there’s improvising and there are plenty of people I could find to do the improvising part, but as far as the texture and the kind of interlock of it, so far I haven’t found anyone else I could do it with. So the upshot is, the record will come out and the music will never be played.
That’s a shame.
Yeah, it is a shame.
So that is Selfhaters?
No that is Sephardic Tinge. Selfhaters, is the next thing, the next festival, oh no! another festival, and I wasn’t going to do Sephardic Tinge again, because I had done it two times in a row with different rhythm sections, which were all pretty nice but, nyah, you know, when I’d finally made the record I realized I wanted to perform it with this group or not perform it at all. So then I had to find what to do next. What to do? And I realized, I was thinking, what was my problem with klezmer? Where’s my unhappiness with klezmer? And I guess what it was the feeling that it was the ethnic music of Jews, you know? Ethnic music is the music that is around when you are growing up, like music for a suburban kid is whatever it is, or ethnic music for me was this Latin music, because it was always around, it was really a part of my day to day life, I knew nothing about the people, I couldn’t tell you Tito Puente from Eddie Palmieri in those days, now I could. But, I knew the names, I knew the pictures, I associated with the store in the neighborhood that sold eight million different pork products and this incredible sweet coconut drink, and associated with Spanish television, the only place they showed World Cup soccer, and the articles in Spanish where they like three words in English and the rest in Spanish. I associated with all this stuff. Spanish is this really amazing sub-culture, because it is everywhere and it’s so easy to have it be invisible if you tune it out, which is crazy. I lived on 160th Street, there wasn’t one sign in the streets that was in English. It was like living in a Spanish city and we didn’t speak Spanish, it’s so ridiculous, really, it was a whole lifestyle. So I was thinking, what is ethnic music? Ethnic music is like that: it’s the music that you live and breathe. Klezmer is not fuckin’ ethnic music to me. I’m sorry. I mean, it’s very nice, I like it a lot, but it’s not ethnic music to me. It’s some kind of ethnic music, but it’s not my ethnic music. It’s like every Jew wants to do something in a radical Jewish festival and play some kind of fuckin’ klezmer, and I was like “No! No way!” I’ve already did it with Roy and I did one klezmer piece on my Balkan music album, and that was enough klezmer for me. I like it, it’s beautiful, I did it, that’s fantastic, now what? So then came Selfhaters, because they used to call Jews who changed their names to more American sounding names or who fixed their noses, and so on, they called them self-hating Jews. So I though that’s my culture, the culture of the self-hating Jew is really my culture.
My grandfather was originally Rosen, and changed it to Ronsen.
Yeah, that’s the normal way. I was Cohen, my grandparents changed it to Coleman. But I was born Coleman, and you too, right? So I don’t consider myself anything but a Coleman. Yeah, it’s cool, but it’s weird, that’s really a culture, it’s a culture all its own. It goes along with suburban culture in a way, but we grew up in the city, very urban. Did you grow up in a suburb?
Yeah, outside of Chicago.
To grow up in that kind of urban environment has a kind of disenfranchised non-ethnic sort of ethnic person. And people would say “but you’re Jewish, that’s an ethnicity” when I was growing up, and yeah, I guess, but what does that mean? I didn’t feel anything much about it. And I remember a really funny time in high school: I was hanging around Duke Ellington’s nephew, Michael James, and he said to me “it’s great, you play all this early jazz,” ’cause I was playing all this stride piano in those days, “but what about your own culture?” And I said “I have no culture.” And he said “What do you mean you have no culture? Your folks slaved for you down there on Bullshit Street somewhere and you say you have no culture?!” After that Bullshit Street was always a real emblem for me, down on Orchard, Worthington, Eldridge, they’re all Bullshit Street. It’s really beautiful. But he was right, and it took me years to realize it. I think it was when I went to Yugoslavia I started to really feel the absence of Jewish culture, like where it had been. Cause in the Balkans you get that much more than you get it in Germany or something. In Germany it’s all whitewashed and you have the Jewish Museum and the little plaque that says “Germans took the Jews away here” and so on. But the darkness of the Balkans, it still kind of looks like it did in the photos. We went to a synagogue that was like the third-oldest synagogue in Europe, and there was a ninety year-old guy just screaming about the community and what had happened to it. It was pretty chilling. All these things started happening at the same time and I started thinking, “wow, it’s time to deal with this.”
This was in ’87?
Much earlier, ’81. And it’s been a slow process. I did a record called Disco By Night on John’s label [Avant], and that deals with the Balkan stuff, with one Jewish piece. So: Selfhaters, somehow it deals with that and it doesn’t. Somehow it exemplifies the self-hater thing. That was the whole compositional premise: somehow it deals with the self-hater thing, and we took it from there. And it was great because Doug Wieselman, who was on the By Night record, a clarinetist whom I’ve worked with on that project for 7 years, and he has something that he can do that no one else can do, which is he can sound completely weak and broken and still be totally in control and have wonderful command and real musicality, and usually those things are anti-theatrical, like if you use a virtuoso, like David Krakauer who I’ve played with since I was 15, and who is a fantastic clarinetist and one of the great clarinetists. He plays klezmer with Klezmatics and stuff and he plays great. But if try and get him to play weak and broken, which you need for some of this stuff, it’s so against his personality, he can do it, but it is so hard to get it out of him. And with Doug it comes naturally to sound like he’s deflating, like if you put a pin into him, and it’s perfect for this. Krakauer is perfect for other things, but for this, Doug is the cat. Doug was there, and it just had to happen, the Selfhaters. [laughs] So was Jim Pugliese. It was the three of us from the By Night record, except for Guy Klucevsek, and we did a show. What we did was, we didn’t have any music, and we didn’t have any tunes. We had a lot of rehearsals, and we said “play your idea of what you think Jewish music should be, and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, but if you eventually hear what they are doing, somehow make a relationship to it. And when it gets too hooked up, stop.”
Stop playing, or stop listening?
Both. Usually what happens is the piece starts to jive or comes to some sort of climax, and there’s an amazing moment of self-consciousness, and we all go “Uhgg!” and stop. That’s the usual climax of a Selfhaters piece. Things are like “eh eh” broken and then phrases “blah blah blah” little kinda klezmer it accumulates and accumulates and then “Dah!” and stop. So we rehearsed it a lot, and we knew the rehearsal was successful when we ended up sitting in chairs looking at the floor, ignoring each other and not speaking. Then we knew the rehearsal was done. It was very very good. I was very happy and we did a show that was very nice where the show was based on something, I don’t know what, oh: I told a joke that my father once told me: the story of the man on the train who says “Oy, am I thirsty” and was crying and people are sitting on the train being very uncomfortable and time goes by and again he cries “Oy am I thirsty. Oy am I thirsty!” and people are more and more uncomfortable and then “OY AM I THIRSTY!!” and then someone finally gives him a drink and there is silence and everyone is very happy and you can imagine this old Jewish guy with a beard and all these nice white people. And then finally comes the cry “Oh vas I thirsty!” So this was a joke the exemplified the self-hating mentality so it had to be told. In the course of an entire set, I told this joke over the course of the set, a little bit at different times. So when we next did a Selfhaters show, we didn’t want to known as the band that tells this one joke, so we had to come up with something else. And it’s been very hard to do shows, we’ve only done about four because Doug lives in California and works with Kamikaze Ground Crew and has all these other projects and works with the Flying Karamazov Brothers, or whatever they are called, and he all kinds of other things. So it’s very hard to hook up. He does great stories, too, cause he’s so deadpan. Unbelievable. So the next show, which was a Passover show, we had to come up with a really good concept for that and the concept we decided was why is this night different from any other night? And it’s because we have to drink four glasses of cognac on this night. So during the course of the show we had snifters, and we had drank four really nice heavy snifters of cognac, and ending up the show completely drunk.
And really self-hating, I bet.
Yeah, but also cognac being a very goyish drink, too, that was very important, with the snifter. You see Hitchcock movies like James Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window are drinking out of snifters and it’s always associated with goyish-American life that we all, in the ’50s, worshipped, definitely my parents. My father was advertising director for Playboy, so he really was deep in the American dream, hanging out with Hef. His bosses were incredible, he worked for Show magazine. It was unbelievable. A complete American concept. So I think the cognac in the snifter was a very good touch. So then, just to finish with the so-far history of the Selfhaters, I did the music for a dance, I was working with an Israeli choreographer, and she wanted to do it about the Lower East Side and she gave me these photos of decrepit synagogues, and then we did the Selfhaters show and listened to the tape, it was pretty bad, it was our first gig, you know, I thought “this is the music for the dance.” So I said to her, “this is the music for the dance and you have no say in the matter.” [laughs] “This is it, if you don’t like too bad. You have to give me money right now: Doug is only in town four more days, we have to go in the studio and record it and that’s the end, and you’ll have the music three months before the performance and you’ll be really happy.” And she was like “No, no wait, I have to hear it,” and of course she hated it the first time, “it’s nothing: it just starts and stops.” “That’s the genius of it!” [still laughing] So to make the story short, we made the record, well we only made a third of the record, so far, which is the dance score, and she did learn to love it. And it’s great. In fact, the music has much more to do with her photos than with the dance. I think she really didn’t stick with her concept because her photos are so beautifully screwed-up, I mean if you would see these synagogues here, right across the street from my house, it’s got whole trees growing out of the top of it. Right next store to a really hip squat. These really hip squatters... I always wonder how they afford all these piercings. You know, they are living in squats and they have eight million piercings, and I think piercings cost, they must cost...
Like ear piercing?
Yeah, ear, nose, tooth piercing, neck piercing. It’s incredible. So we have the squat next to the synagogue, and it’s a real desolate scene, everything has got weeds growing out and it’s gorgeous. I mean I have the best view in New York. That’s one thing I can say about my apartment, I have the best view, no one has a view like mine. I mean it’s not glamorous.
Did she understand the self-hating aspect?
She bought me the book called Jewish Self-Hatred which is an incredible book. I am thinking of having the author do the liner notes. It’s an amazing piece of research. He takes every major fixture in Jewish self-hate history and talk about how they became self-haters, any where from Hienrick Hiene to Marx to...
Spinoza?
Yeah, everybody. It’s like incredible. It’s how they tried to live like a Jew, how it got screwed-up, like how if they wanted to be in a university they couldn’t keep doing it, how they started to hang with these people and started to look at Orthodox as horrible and a drag, trying to get outside the ghetto walls, then what happened, how they got chastised... the whole development of self-hating. It’s real intricate, it’s quite wonderful. I’m really thinking of having the author do the notes for the record, ’cause it’s pretty amazing. What’s his name? Sander Gilman. So that’s how she [the choreographer] knew what was going on. And then the dancers... they were doing these parts where they were dragging themselves on the floor. In the end she really made it all too beautiful and pretty. In fact it would have been better if it were less, but more beautiful. But they were dragging themselves on the floor like dead elephants and one dancer would say to the other “it doesn’t have the right self-hate!"
You got to hate yourself more; have less self-respect.
That became the motto: You gotta hate yourself before you can love yourself, and you gotta love yourself before you can love anyone else. On the last tour we’ve done so far, Doug was in town and it was Duke Ellington’s 95th birthday. And I thought it was about time to bring it out of the realm of pure Jewish stuff and into colloquial self-hate. So we did an incredible Ellington birthday show where we played “KoKo” [and others]. And then we worked out these routines of sounds of Duke Ellington, not pieces. I would play a harsh minor tenth on the piano and everyone else would [makes descending wah-wah noises]. We worked on a lot of wah-wah routines and dotted quarter-notes.
Did people get it?
Well, I don’t know...
I mean were people expecting “Take The A-Train"?
We did quite a nice “Mood Indigo” I think. And I told you every Selfhater show has to have a visual image, this is what I’ve decided. It won’t be on the record, but I’ve taken the theme of Duke Ellington where he once said “you can’t write music for someone unless you’ve played poker with them", so in the middle of the show we stopped and played a 25 minute hand of poker with piles of money on the table. Duke Ellington died of lung cancer so a cigarette was burning, and an ashtray. So we had all this imagery, the card-playing, from the road-life. So this is the next part of the Selfhaters’ record. This is what I’m working on now, the Selfhaters play the music of Duke Ellington.
Just as one huge piece?
Yes, there are going to be three parts, one being the klezmer, the music of Duke Ellington, and I think the third part is going to be a combination of fascist and communist political songs performed at the same time. Nothing’s going to sum it up, but that’s what I’m working on now. I’m also working on a trio called the Hunger, also with Joey and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello. That’s where we are all interested in music like Feldman and Scelsi, and we don’t get a lot of chance to deal with that in our world, you know, cause everybody characterizes the downtown music scene as quick changes, lot’s of styles, and Feldman and Scelsi is the antithesis of this, but we love that music too. Fred actually studied with Feldman and Jim has played a lot of that music, he has actually played with a lot of other new music groups. And I studied that kind of music as well and seriously plunged into it. I didn’t study with Feldman, I studied with Mauricio Kagel and people like that. Not that their music is anything the same, but it’s a different approach to length and a different approach to pitch and so on.
Did you catch the Xenakis show last night?
Uh... did you go?
I had another interview last night.
I really wanted to see that. What did I do last night? It couldn’t have been anything as good as that. What’d I do? What was last night? Today is Wednesday. What’d I do last night? I don’t even remember. It’s a total blank. Already.
It was either too good or not good enough.
Yeah. I don’t remember what it was. It’s incredible. Ok, well, it was something. -gasp- I know what I did: I hung out with my ex-girlfriend. Yeah. [laughs] OK. [laughs] How did I do that? What did we do? We met. We did something. Why? How? [long pause] I really don’t remember. It’s incredible. It’s frightening, you know, when you’re only this age and you don’t remember... So that sums up what we’re doing with that thing is somehow connected to the time feeling and the pitch-feeling of music like that. You know how those guys take one pitch which drives the whole piece, and it just opens and opens and opens? And that is something that when people think what the music of downtown blah blah blah, they never think of someone doing that, that’s what somebody is into. Even though some music of Elliott Sharp is not so far from that in a way, but it’s a different concentration, even in Elliott’s music, the concentration is on that urban speed-it-up speed-it-up speed-it-up. We’re trying to hang back, make a four-hour long string quartet, you know?
I’m just starting to get into Scelsi. I’ve just bought my first Scelsi CD.
Which one?
It has a bunch of different things on it, some vocal things, some cello things.
Is it the one that has the bass tam-tam and harp piece on it?
I don’t think so.
That’s a real masterpiece. If you ever get a chance to listen to that.
Yeah I have a friend who is going to send me some more. I’m interested in Cage and Nono and Ligeti. And I’ve been trying to expand from there.
Ligeti is one of my favorites, Cage, of course. Nono, I can’t say. I don’t know his music terribly well. But, Ligeti I love, his chamber concerto is one of the--no, there are a few works by Ligeti that have really turned me on completely. The solo harpsichord piece, if you know that.
"Continuum?"
Yeah, it’s incredible. That’s what I mean, it’s all about rising and steady state with real slow kind of changes.
Yeah, his vocal stuff, “Lux Aeterna” and parts of his Requiem...
Great stuff. It’s amazing. I haven’t heard that much of his recent music. I’ve become very good friends with his son, strangely enough.
Really?
His son is in school at Stanford.
Is he also a musician?
Yeah, he is an enormous fan of downtown New York music, and he lives in Vienna, he’s a drummer, he’s a really really good musician, a good composer. But his dream is to live in New York, meanwhile he gets enormous grants in Vienna to study and write pieces of the Ensemble “die reihe.” “Yeah, I want to come to New York.” I said, “sure.” He: “I want to work on the East Coast.” “Yeah, sure. I’ll believe that when I see it.” [laughs] Give up living in this palace, you know, getting tons of money to write music.
Last week I interviewed God Is My Co-Pilot so I would like to talk about your relationship with them. How did you meet them?
How did I meet God Is My Co-Pilot? Well, let’s see: somehow Craig and Sharon were involved with Zorn for a while.
Yeah, he was on one of their records [Speed Yr. Trip].
And, it’s the way I meet people with John, usually going out to some enormous lunch somewhere, like at 2nd Avenue Deli, there’s always John with this enormous group of people, and usually you don’t really meet them. Like I’ve been to lunch with Misha Mengleberg for example, but I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, with all the members of the Boredoms and the Ruins, and so on. Somehow I started to know them, and then they invited me to be in one of their noise workshops at the Gargoyle Mechanique over the summer, and I really really liked them.
So you got to know them socially.
Yeah, socially and playing at the noise workshop. And then I guested on some of their little side projects like Pope John, and then I was on a couple of their records, and then I made the tour with them last year. Then I made one record that I really like with them, this 45, “Childhood Daydreams of whatever and whatever". Did you get it?
Uh...
"Childhood Daydreams of Torture and Betrayal” or something. I forget. It’s two horrible things. “Childhood Daydreams of Mutilation and ...” [laughs]
Uh...
It’s good. What I did was take a DAT of outtakes from their recent albums and I just freely sampled what I thought was nice, and made a sample sequence, and then they played on top of it, and Sharon sang on top of it. So this was the closest to a real collaboration that I’ve done with them. I would love to do that more. It was completely fun to do that, to take somebody’s stuff that they don’t know what to do with, take it like raw material and then make something out of it. And I think it came out pretty good, but I haven’t really been dealing with them too much since we’ve did this tour.
Tell me about the tour.
What did they say about the tour?
They seemed to want to avoid mention of it.
It was a nightmare for them, in a way. Cause dealing with this Knitting Factory stuff, they really came up against it, like boom, really clashed into it. I missed a lot of that, because I was in Munich for six weeks working on a project with Shelly Hirsch, and I didn’t join the tour until mid-point...
So did you go to Finland with them?
No, that was afterwards. That’s really the classic GodCo, the Peel Sessions, Finland, so on. But, this was with Fred Lonberg-Holm, so it was a very weird GodCo, no Alex, no Siobhan, me, Laura Cromwell on drums, and Michael. But Michael and Fred do a lot of improvising together, so that puts it in another direction. The tour was for me strange, because it was this radical Jew thing, and there were problems for me. The whole thing was so trivialized in a way, in the sense that we had this stuff that was, yeah, ok, peripherally Jewish, we did these Yiddish songs and Gary Lucas did “Silent Movie Of The Golem” where he played the Draddle Song in the middle of it, and some Hasidic New Wave which is essentially like a Miles Davis of “Bitches’ Brew” period with klezmer scales, and...
So you’re back to klezmer.
Well, it’s not really klezmer, but on the other hand it had the other problem of being so peripheral and yet, with what Ribot calls “Identity Politics.” I know that’s not his phrase, but to use it in this context, a weird musical identity politics: What makes this music Jewish? It was really interesting in this Munich festival was you had all this interesting stuff, some of it was real overt, like the New Klezmer Trio, and then on the other hand Zeena Parkins playing solo harp, and then contrasting that to a piece Alvin Curin played, triggering samples, and that to John [Zorn] and that to Elliott Sharp and that to Lou Reed and all this stuff that makes you ask the question “OK, what do all these have in common?” But that’s really in the form of a question which is how it should be, whereas these shows were “we’re here, we’re Jewish, get used to it!” And then you get used to it and so what? The stuff is OK. I remember a friend of mine from Hamburg coming up and saying “you take away the Jewish and it’s just another middle-rabble Knitting Factory jazz tour.” And I realized it was true, and I was very sad. What made it most depressing, we were sending faxes back and forth to each other before the tour, with little pictures of Elie Wiesel cut out, he wrote “Night” a great book about the Holocaust, he’s the big conscious of the Holocaust, he’s a Holocaust survivor and he’s always lecturing on how important it is for the world not to forget, so we had Wiesel at the Radical Jewish Festival giving the little pre-concert talk: “Six million were killed, right were we are, and the world is trying to forget, and we must never forget, we must keep memory alive... [real upbeat] And now here is a group of musicians who are keeping memory alive...” It was like that, it really was like that. They had a horrible discussion before the concerts, so a bunch of young, bearded intellectuals, a couple of engaged lefty people, and one old, insane Jewish person who was somehow still living in the town, and one or two other people would come, and have these completely useless discussions that touched on music not at all. Not “What is this music, why is this music Jewish?” which would be interesting, but, like, “how does it feel to be an American-Jewish musician playing in Europe, given the fact that there was the Holocaust?” This conversation, in terms of the music that we were playing, could not stand up at all. Imagine going to a concert of, I don’t know, I can’t think of something equally absurd. Imaging going to a basketball game and before the game ask “Do you think blacks are still being oppressed in America?” or “Do you think the fact that there are black millionaires...” and have a pre-game discussion on this, and not one word on “do you think you’re going to win?” or “what do you think your chances are?” Not even mention those but, “it’s thirty years after the march on Washington now and here we are, and Patrick Ewing, you’re a multi-million dollar athlete and what does that mean?” [laughs] Even on a lesser level than that, it was stupider. To have this kind of discussion with this music, was for me so painful that I tried to be the court-jester after a while. It was a good training for Selfhaters, this was before Selfhaters, but it was good training. A lot of thinkers, Adorno and Hannah Arendt, have written about the banality of trying to sum such a thing of, of trying to say that the Holocaust was this and this. I can’t explain it very well, but the idea that when you can explain something, it’s not scary anymore. And that’s how this whole thing was, to talk about... I mean, there’s... argh! I loose words at this point. The simplest thing is to say that these things had nothing to do with each other.
Just because you’re Jews, or... I can see how that would be annoying.
If the music could have related, if it were somehow haunted, and we could talk about--first of all, to do the talks before the music is insane, because people haven’t heard the music. So what could they say? How can you really talk about the music then? And then, the music wasn’t really informed by this. That was what was depressing for me. But when I look at it as a gig, it was a nice enough gig.
How do you work with[in] GodCo?
Well, with them you can work in different ways, like one thing is you come in and they have a bunch of different tracks laid down, they’ll play them for you and then you record on that, or, I told you how I made “Childhood Daydreams...” Another way is just to make parts for previous songs, like learn their repertoire. They are very experimental in the way that they work, they’re go everywhere from the construction of a song in the classical pop sense, in that you’ll make a part for it, to that they have junk lying about, little phrases that they like, they like to do these little ehgh-ehgh-ehgh ehgh-ehgh-ehgh without any song attached to it, and then they say “what do you think it should be?” And then you can go “uh, I don’t know.” And then it could be that, taking these riffs that are attached to nothing and making something out of them. So they have about six different ways of working, they have ways where they have words and no music, or -- yeah, it’s interesting because they really don’t have such a clear agenda, they’ll work any kind of way. And they love the recording studio, they love to just play with lots of different stuff, and just pile it on, and if it works, and if not, they still have fifty more songs to try. So I’ve done things where I’ve gotten to know a track, and then laid a part down, other times, where I laid a part down without any idea of what is the track, like they say "we’re just going to play and if you come up with something, just play on it,” and that’s good too. But all those methods are cool.
How did you start using the sampler?
How did I start using it? Um...
You have an Ensoniq, right?
Yeah, the ARST-10, which I really love. It’s my third Ensoniq, I had the Mirage first, and... why did I get the Mirage? I can’t remember why I got it. I remember buying it, I’m trying to remember why I got it. I know I played it, I subbed in Naked City for Wayne for the concert in, uh, in a big concert... in Paris, and I had it there, so I guess, did I get it to work on Naked City? It might be, because Naked City was using so many samples at that time. Did I take Wayne’s samples? How did I make samples? God knows. What was I doing at that time? Well, anyway, it was in 1989, and I played with Naked City in May of 1989 and then I got the Mirage, or was that I needed for John’s thing? Probably so, I don’t really remember what sampler I used. This Naked City concert was an absolute fantasy dream, it was insane, ’cause we played so many pieces, like 35 pieces of music in a concert, all short, and I learned them all for that one concert, flew to Paris, made a ton of money, played the 35 pieces for the only time in my life, turn around and came home. So, it was a little strange.
How much is a ton?
Oh, it was good. It was 2000 dollars, for the concert. I think that is a lot. [laughs] You know, for this kind of music? Jesus. I think that was the first time I ever really used a sampler on a gig, but like I said the concert was so much of a dream that I can hardly remember why I used it, how I used it, but it was a lot of fun. I remember it was one of the great Naked City albums, but you know the Mirage has such a teeny, tiny memory, it’s incredible, it has nothing...
I’ve only used the EPS.
I remember first getting the Mirage and thinking this is the greatest thing ever invented, but then you had to change... you could only have one sound loaded in and then you had to stop, do it again, like all those pieces like “Dart” and “Spinlane,” used Wienstein, he was a real genius at that Mirage. But it is so amazing when you look at it now, it’s like a model-T Ford. You couldn’t load more than one thing in at a time, it only had 9 seconds of memory, [laughs]...
It’s like looking at old computers now.
Yes, I would say even less adaptable, though. So unadaptable. And it sounds so bad, it’s amazing, the range of the frequency. Ooh: 8 bit sampling. Wow.
The EPS is pretty cool.
It’s very cool, but you have to use it for... Elliott uses it still very good: he puts another extra layer of grunge on his records. Everything is like ergh to begin with, so he puts some more of that on there. Weinstein is mostly playing Elliott samples, which is great, as like I say it’s this other layer. It’s not that you can really really hear what he’s doing, because it’s just another level of [makes growling noise].
Yeah, I don’t think I actually heard anything from him [at Carbon show in Austin].
You heard it, you just didn’t know it, because it just sounded like... The amazing thing about Carbon is that he orchestrates the whole band to sound like [makes Carbon-noise noises]. I think it’s phenomenal orchestration.
I was surprise to see how powerful it was: it just pushes you back a bit.
It’s quite astonishing. Yeah, it’s a thing, it’s definitely a thing onto itself. So, yeah, then what I think is good about Weinstein and me and other people, that when you’ve learned on the Mirage, and you’ve had no memory and you’ve had to come up with all these really tricky solutions in order to make it to work, then when you get a lot of memory, you feel comfortable because you had to learn to make this other thing work. It’s almost a kind of apprenticeship.
What are you favorite things to do on the sampler?
Well, I could tell you my least favorite thing, which I guess you got from what I said, is to improvise on it. That is my least favorite thing. I’ve decided that I don’t even want to improvise on the sampler anymore. Somehow, I really don’t like it. What I like to do is make ambiances with it. Like a really good example for me is “Johnny Come Lately” on the second record with Roy, it’s like a whole ambiance of skewed big-band, and also I was able to fill in the textures of Roy playing two saxophones, like he’s actually playing two saxophones, but then also uses the samples of two saxophones at the same time. So we were able to create sections, we were able to partition stuff, able to set up the whole rhythm with that bass line going which comes from, actually it doesn’t come from Ellington, it comes from Basie’s original recording of “One O’Clock Jump", and set up that crazy loop, “ding” with that one piano riff [hums it], and that really focuses how the piece is going to be, that little eighth-note before the beat [hums] before the bar line. And then you have to play off that, and that generates everything. And all the riffs are generated, and it is so nice to have a stereo sampler, cause all the trombones can come in here, and it’s all about creating an ambiance, it’s not about improvising. And then lay down the piano on top, and all the saxophone solos, and all this other stuff. And it really gives you the possibility to do some amazing orchestration and to really create the illusion of depth. Again a thing I like from films the way mat technique is used, or when they film something on top of an image, or film something in a mirror, and this is the way I really like to use the sampler. All of my favorite sampler things have to do with that, and that’s what we did in [God Is My Co-Pilot’s] “Childhood Daydreams...". Where have I done that besides? I did that on the first record with Roy, the Abe Schwartz piece...
Tell me something about that: I really like that one.
That’s an original klezmer record by Abe Schwartz, we took the tune, and then I took the recordings of about ten other klezmer records, and sampled them all, and created an orchestration based on the original piece. We had to figure out where phrases can go, and there are things that are all over-there’s nothing from the original record. There’s only things from Glen Miller, from Fanny Brice...
I like the scratchiness of it.
The scratchiness is what is great, I mean, that’s what I totally love, to make it not sound like this amazing beautiful thing. I mean, that’s what I always don’t like about samplers and synthesizers, is when it sounds unbelievably polished. And the great thing about a sampler is that you can make a sampler sound however the hell you want. I mean, it has no sound of its own, so you can make it sound however you want. It always sounds like a sampler somehow, but I think the scratchiness is great. I like to use lo-fi sound. That’s what I like about the Abe Schwartz thing and also “Johnny Come Lately," is you’re really dealing with orchestration. And it’s really hard, cause mixing a sampler in the studio is really tricky, ’cause you can make it sound like a reverby awful thing that can make it sound like a big budget rock record, that’s very easy to do. On the other hand you can make it sound really puny, so I always have to have a direct channel and an amp channel, it’s very important to me, ’cause I need that blend in the studio. If it sounds too funky it doesn’t sound good, and if it doesn’t sound funky enough, it sounds like nothing. I just made a record with David Krakauer, and we did the same kind of treatment for another thing, but somehow we neglected to take a direct channel, we only had the amp channel, and it really sounds too gritty for me. I don’t know, we’ll see how it comes out on the record. Did you hear that Christian Marclay record that just starts out with tones of scratches? All of that stuff is great. I really like this way of using the sampler. I can’t stand to listen to solo sampler, that’s for sure. I can’t do it. I know there are people who can do great things with it, but, I like John Oswald’s thing, I like Plunderphonics, I mean there’s one trick per record per song per piece, but I still like the tricks very much and I’ve gotten a lot from them.
I first saw you with Negitivland.
Where were we? Which gig did you see?
I saw you in Chicago, when I was living there.
At the Lounge Ax.
Yeah, that’s a great place, I miss it. What was it like doing the tour with Negitivland?
They’re really interesting the way they deal with media and the way they deal with collage. But me and Roy were kind of alienated on that tour, I mean it’s 90% a rock sensibility. I mean, it’s not rock music they are doing, it comes from everywhere from all over culture. But there’s a kind of rock sensibility in it. I don’t even know how to explain why that is true, but I know that it is true. And this fine, but it has nothing to do with what me and Roy do. I mean, Roy has this much rock sensibility [holds fingers an inch apart], I have... more. I’ve played with... I mean when [Roy] talks about playing with rock bands he talks about playing with rock bands the way that jazz musicians have always talked about playing with rock bands. “Yeah, I played with a rock band, it was great...” He played with the Shirelles, I mean he did. But in terms of really dealing with rock as a music to construct stuff with, he’s never really done that. I can’t say I’ve done it a lot, but between working with God Is My Co-Pilot and being in the Rootless Cosmopolitans for three years, which again isn’t anybody’s idea of a standard rock band... Roy has wailed a saxophone over a Lou Reed song or something like this, but this is different. It’s you bring in the jazz musician because you want the saxophone solo. That’s classic. That goes back to records like “Touch Me” and the Doors. I remember reading this interview with Jim Morrison who was so proud that he had gotten Curtis Amy to come in and solo. I think Roy’s sensibility has a lot to do with pop, but more pop as pop was used in the fifties. I can see Roy having much more to do with Johnny Mathis than he has to do with God Is My Co-Pilot. [laughs] That sounds terrible I know, but...
The truth sometimes hurts...
I’m not trying to... I’ve made a really bad analogy with Johnny Mathis, but somehow I think it’s right. I felt plenty out of place [on the Negivland tour], he felt even more out of place, and we as a duo felt very out of place. But it was interesting. We would play and we would get some kind of feedback, but it was very weird. And it was like, and me and Roy have different approaches to audiences, too. That’s the other thing, Roy sometimes has this ability to charm the audience and I’m like, “let’s finish our set and get out.” [snap-snap].
I thought the Lounge Ax show went very well.
I enjoyed it. I enjoyed all of the tour in a funny way, but to sum up, the total summation of the whole thing was when we played in Madison, Wisconsin and we set up and there’s like Negitivland fans spilling onto the stage, discussing their love lives, like [in falsetto] “so I said to him: how could you see her again? And he said: well, look, I just can’t help it.” And this is part one, and then we start to play “Reflections,” “By the Book” [hums tune] “So, if you’re going to do like that, then I’m going to see you any more.” OK, downstairs, is a gay disco [pounds on table and makes disco bass noises]. OK, great. this is happening. Fine. Then the bartender, he’s a great guy, somebody buys him a round of drinks, “Yeah!” He’s got an enormous bell, he pulls the string [makes bell noise] and everyone is cheering loudly. I mean, what do you do? We could play all of our loudest shit, play “August 87, 1998,” play “The Great Night,” play the loudest stuff. But it’s such a strain, and we were like why? Why? Why? And Negitivland, they appeal to a certain level of pop culture, like people really came with so much paraphernalia, to their shows. It was unbelievable. Stickers, posters, homemade tapes. It’s really on the level of an interesting cult, cause they had never really toured. And I think what they do is great. I like what they do. But it’s like it’s not my pop culture, this is what I was telling you about the latin stuff, it’s not so white. I mean it is, but it’s not so amazingly white, I don’t think it is. It comes from a lot of places, between the Balkan stuff, the Jewish stuff, the Hispanic stuff, the black stuff, and Roy also, but in a different way. That’s what makes a duo with Roy great for me, is that we both have a set of very rich influences, which are in a sense complimentary, but are also... like his jazz and my jazz are different. His Jewish music and my Jewish music are different. His Latin and pop music and mine are different. But somehow they work, they compliment. It creates an interesting tension, his approach to audience and mine. So I always think we’re a little bit like Martin and Lewis, you know? [laughs] That vibe of Martin and Lewis is something related to what we do, and it’s definitely in the tradition of Jewish comedy and vaudeville. This is great. But so what we do made sense there, with the use of samples and the way we use the different cut-ups of media, and all that stuff, has some relation to Negitivland, but it’s like the audience is not familiar with the references we’re making, whereas they are completely familiar with every reference of late night talk shows, radio, Casey Kasim, U2, PBS cooking shows, and all that stuff.
Like when you say “We’re going to do a Mingus song now...”
Yeah.
I’m sure everyone is like [makes international ??? signal]
Do you know what’s really funny? The people who don’t know anything about what we do, on that tour, but who wanted to know, would look for rock references to place it into, and, invariably, the same four come up. Like “You guys must be really into Zappa.” Well, we like him, we think he’s nice. But really into him? Really into Zappa? Uh... Or “Man: that Tom Waits record is great. Don’t you agree?” Ya, iz gud, we like it too. We like Tom. Tom is cool. We’ve played with all the band. Greg Cohen is on my new record, I played with Ribot for years, I’ve played with Michael Blair on a couple of records, I’ve played with the whole band except for the keyboard player, but really into Tom Waits? Really into Beefheart? Ok, maybe Beefheart. Beefheart, Zappa, Tom Waits... and The Residents. Let’s not forget the Residents.
Let’s not.
We come off the stage in Chapel Hill and some guy says to us “Lick the refrigerator’s toe baby not lick my decals off.” Again? "Biting electronic refrigerator.” Yeah, what about it? “Zappa, man.” I never heard of that, I’m sorry. And he goes “You’re a fucking liar, but that was a great set man. You’re beautiful.” Yeah, OK. That’s America. So it was really interesting, because we saw America, in a way that I had never seen it before. People always say that the European audience is so smart, blah blah blah. This is a bunch of shit. This is a fucking lie. Maybe the German audience is pretty smart, but if you leave out Germany, which is amazing because Germany is not my most favorite place in the world, but German audiences are smart, they know the references, they can hang with it. [Talk about Cobra Tour and touring in America]
Mingus, let’s talk about Mingus a bit. You did “Orange Is the Color Of Her Dress...” Is that your favorite Mingus piece?
No, but I really like it, and I thought it would fit Roy great. He didn’t know it. I had to teach it to him. It was the last thing we recorded for the record, and it just felt like Roy [hums melody], it just seems so Roy to me. And the idea to have Roy dump each four bars into the sampler separately, and then have to play off them like a Roy Saxophone Quartet. But it was a real spur of the moment thing, I mean Roy’s whole sense of lyricism and the way he deals with the saxophone and how he composes, I think owes an incredible amount to Mingus. I think it’s no secret that the Jazz Passengers owe a lot to him; the shouting, the whole feel of it. To me, jazz composition is the shit. I wouldn’t single out Mingus. I like Monk, Ellington, I live and breathe Ellington, since I was 12. I heard the Ellington band for the first time on my 14th birthday, August 13, 1969, and when I was at camp I wrote to my parents “I don’t care what you do for my birthday, all I want is to see Ellington” cause I knew Ellington used to play the entire summer at the Rainbow Grill. That was my dream. And it was so, it was when Hodges was still alive, fantastic. This was so formative to me. And I saw Mingus at the time as well, Mingus lived here on Avenue A. I used to see him get his pants pressed. He was very nice. I studied with Jackie Byard for a year, so I had that connection to the Mingus stuff. And I used to go see the Jazz Workshop with Jackie and Bobby Jones, Charles McPhereson, Bonnie Hill, Dannie Richmond in the beginning and then other drummers afterwards, the guy who played musical saw, I can’t remember his name, and then Jackie quit. I saw the “Let My Children Hear Music” concert, I saw the Mingus Big Band, I saw the incredible double bill of Ornette Coleman, the Quartet with Charlie Haden, with Dewey [Redman] and Blackwell and the American Symphony Orchestra doing “Skies Of America” on the bill with the Mingus Big Band on the second half in 1972. I saw some fantastic Mingus concerts, fantastic Ornette concerts, Cecil when he had Cyrille and Jimmy Lyons. But this whole tradition is what is great to me. The only person I would single out for me, I Mean, yeah, you have to single out Mingus, but Ellington is so much a part of my childhood adolescence, and Monk, I mean there was a point where I would really try to model my playing after him. I would sit there with the records and try to figure out how he gets that sound. But to me the whole thing starting with Jelly Roll Morton, or even starting with Scott Joplin, to Duke to Monk, and Mingus, and Cecil Taylor, and Ornette in a funny way. I would say that is the center of my musical life, although I don’t claim to play jazz any more. Although there are a couple of critics, like Kevin Whitehead and Howard Mandel (and Harvey Pekar, who has written some very nice things about me and Roy), who are very involved with the idea that when you don’t call this jazz you’re allowing the Wynton Marsalises of the world to rule the world. And maybe that’s right, but I don’t feel that what I am doing is playing jazz. If someone says that I’m playing jazz in the tradition of Monk and Ellington, I’m so totally flattered, but if someone says that I sound like Paul Bley, I’m not so happy. [laughs]
[laughs] I can imagine.
I have to be honest. I mean Paul Bley is great, but people say “you must be really into that Paul Bley record with Garry Peacock and Paul Motian” and I’m like, “I can’t help it if I’m white, what can I do?” All I ever tried to do was to play like Ellington and Monk, if it comes out like Paul Bley, it’s not my fault. I can’t help if I can’t swing! It’s so mean what I’m saying, it’s so bad... I never tried to be harmonically intricate [hums pretty piano line], I’ve always tried to do very simple shit, you know those Mingus things with the shouts, [hums/shouts stuff], like “Haitian Fight Song,” very simple shit. If it comes out artsy, I’m sorry. [laughs]. That just shows you how much you can’t get away from your background, you can’t. I mean, I guess Paul Bley’s relation to music and mine are not all that different, in some way. But it’s so funny how many people say such a thing. Not that I’m very happy if people say that I sound exactly like Monk either, but when people say “you must be really into Paul Bley,” I have to go back to the drawing board.
So, you don’t consider yourself a jazz musician?
I want to make myself clear I don’t consider myself a jazz musician. If somebody wants to say that I come out of the tradition of Duke and Monk and Mingus, that tradition of black, American, jazz composition, and they could hear my work as having something to do with that...
As an evolution?
Yeah, or in that chain, but my music has as much to do with Varèse, Webern and Feldman as it does with that, and Zorn... I don’t think the downtown, free improvisers ever tried to be jazz, when it was new. Now, it starts to tend to genres in the past five or six years. I don’t know if you know the really early John records, like Archery, when he was playing with people like Polly Bradfield and people who were really genre-free improvisers. They weren’t rock players or jazz improvisers, they came out of a tradition of free improvising, related more to what someone like Derek Bailey does, or whoever, influenced by people like Cardew and Stockhausen, influenced by all kinds of shit. So those things were not trying to be jazz, they were improvising in way that didn’t have anything to do with jazz, and gradually, since the Knitting Factory got started, you started to get more and more real jazz bands and real rock bands. On one hand the Rootless Cosmopolitans and on the other hand the Jazz Passengers. Which is cool, but for me, all of my records have been genre somehow, but I don’t think of myself as being genre-oriented. This is kind of funny coming from me, when of my records is completely involved with the Balkans, and the me and Roy records with some mix of klezmer and jazz... I think the best thing to say is that I don’t feel attached to genre. I’m good with it, but I exist in a funny relation to it. I mean, a piece like “By The Book” [on The Coming Great Millennium] is an attempt to write a Webern piece based on a big band form. First you have the head, then the solos, and it keeps returning to the riff of the head, [hums], and at the end it has this shout chorus [hums], so it has a very Webern-esque form, very appealing with the pitches and these little diads that keep returning, and this very funny rhythmic feel, but at the same time, the form could be a Basie chart... It’s a very fucked up musical language. It takes big band and mixes it up with Webern, puts it in the Knitting Factory, has this sick-sounding sample on top of the saxophone that sounds practically broken, what can I say? Peter Zumo once asked me to lecture in his class and he said “bring music that has influenced you". So I brought a Webern symphony, and “Why Patterns” of Morton Feldman and “By The Book” and “A Hurtful Angle” from the By Night record, that also deals with this very small pitch movement, where new pitches are introduced very slowly, the pitch field is very small, very clear, just like in Webern or Feldman. And then you will see the influence of how to use the pitch field which comes form this music. The students could see this, but what I was amazed by was how the sound of those performances are the way people perform that kind of music is nuanced, how they go into a note. I didn’t think about it before, which is kind of [hums something softly], whereas me and Roy are [makes sharp, grating noises], I mean we definitely had the dynamics, but the whole tone production has nothing to do with that music. It comes much more from jazz and downtown free improvisers. It doesn’t come from classical, not even new classical. It’s amazing, the tone production of a Feldman piece is not all that different than if they were playing Schubert, Schumann or Mozart. And then if you talk about [my] tonal vocabulary, that only comes from Mingus, Monk and so on. I mean the way Monk produces his sound, or Ornette, or Mingus, or Cootie Williams, or on the other hand John Zorn or Eugene Chadbourne. I give a fuck for the way the Bowery Ensemble produces their sound, I think the music is beautiful, but that approach to timbre and tone... But that’s what I realized. I knew I was looking for a different thing, but I didn’t realized to what extent until I laid those couple of pieces against the recordings of Feldman and Webern, and I really said “Wow.” OK, my pitch language has something to do with this, but my timbre language has nothing, nothing to do with this. Zero. That’s interesting, but that’s what happens when you have a background in blues oriented music, or even rock oriented music.
What do you think of Anthony Braxton?
What do I think about him? What do I think about him? What do you think about him.
I’ll show you what I think about him. [shows “Reviews Of Reviews” column in MMPP#1]
[laughs] You know, I really need to hear more of his music. I feel really bad that I haven’t listened to his records since the early records. I listened a lot to For Alto which I loved, again in terms of the kind of thing we were talking about. I think it was a real crucial record for John, for example. I think John’s solo records sound very different from For Alto, but again, this way of structuring pieces for solo saxophone is pretty revolutionary. I mean, it’s absolutely not line-oriented at all. One thing I hate about jazz improvising, even sort of freer jazz improvising, nowadays, is this complete return to line playing, and Braxton is still dealing with sound in a very specific way, and deals with other ways of constructing, and I love that. You know, I am working with Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Attas and people who are playing with Braxton in his big band, people who have been with him at Wesleyan and so on, but I haven’t spent a lot of time on his recent music. And I need to do it. I was somewhat put off by some of his larger pieces, and again you can only say this knowing my thing with Feldman and Webern, I felt that he wasted too many gestures. I didn’t find this is his small-group music, that he wasted gestures, but some of the ensemble stuff was amazing for me. And for me, I don’t like that many gestures to happen. With Webern/Feldman/Scelsi/whatever to me, is to have very small group of gestures that you work on in the course of a piece. And I think Braxton does this in his playing, and I think he does this in his small groups, but in his large ensemble pieces that I’ve heard, I can’t find the gestural center. This is based on not a lot of listening, I want to make that clear, so if that’s wrong, I could believe that’s changed since he did that big piece that he did... years ago... when he had that record contract with...
Arista.
And he did the piece for 4 Orchestras. I remember that being OK, but not having an entry point.
Yeah, the details of how that was done is kinda messed up.
That I know, but I also think that in terms of the lines-I don’t think music has to be motivic, that’s not what I am saying, but I think the best way I can say it is it was a waste of too many gestures. But I have to hear what’s happening now. Have you heard his recent record, the one with two accordions?
Two accordions? No...
I liked it. I heard three clarinets, two accordions, it’s for a twenty piece ensemble...
I like the larger ensemble pieces. I really haven’t gotten into his [Crispell/Dresser/Hemmingway] quartet stuff all that much yet.
Yeah, sometimes the virtuosity of it bothers me. I saw it one time and it left me cold. I guess it was with Marilyn Crispell and Mark Hellias and Gerry Hemingway. It was good, but, I don’t know. I can’t say much about it except too many gestures for me. The thing with Cecil Taylor, when he was playing with Cyrille and Jimmy Lyons, was that there were so few gestures, they bused to always go [end of tape]
 

A ten year follow up interview appeared in Monk Mink Pink Punk 11

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