We’re at Douglass Street Music Collective on December 5th at 10 pm, along with two other exciting acts. Unsurprisingly I’m a big fan of Jersey Band so come early and hear Alex Hamlin and Josh Sinton make some amazing music. You can find the facebook event here.
Two shows coming up. The Will Mason Ensemble (newly expanded with the amazing Nina Moffitt on vocals) is playing at Spectrum at 9 pm on Sunday, October 27. Spectrum is a beautiful little space and they’ve been programming awesome and adventurous music. I’m excited to bring our group to their stage.
I’ll also be debuting a new project with David Bird on laptop and Austin Vaughn on drum set. (Double drums!) That’s at Freddy’s Bar on Tuesday October 22nd, at 8:30.
Jesse Stacken is an amazing pianist, composer, and thinker. If you haven’t heard his CD “Bagatelles for Trio” I’d strongly recommend seeking it out. But more to the point for inaugurating this interview series, Jesse’s been composing one song a week based on the music and writings of Olivier Messiaen. You can listen to the exciting (and surprisingly varied) fruits of his labor over at his blog. We exchanged e-mails for a week; our conversation is below.
Will Mason: In prefacing your Messiaen Project, you wrote: “I aim to take his techniques and combine them with my own ideas to create something personal and perhaps even unique. I’m sure I will use the techniques abstractly at times, and other times they might go undetected.” And then you expressed this worry: “My other concern is that the narrowness of this project might have too strong of an influence on my total creative output. Read the rest of this entry »
We’ll be at Freddy’s Backroom again on 9/24 as part of Anders Nilsson and Michael Evans’ “On The Way Out” series. I’m very excited to say that the amazing drummer and composer (and a fellow Mainer!) Mike Pride will be playing as well. We’re on at 8:30, $10 suggested donation. This also will be our first show with Nina Moffitt singing with us. Lots of new music and new twists on the older music in the works, especially as we start planning a studio date sometime in the winter.
It’s hard to overstate the impact that Ethan Iverson’s interviews at Do The Math have had on an incredibly diverse array of music-lovers. Ethan’s interviews manage to be at all times informal, scholarly, and motivated by a deep and sincere personal interest: you have the impression that a keen musical mind is not just interviewing his subjects but excavating them, unearthing their history for study. As a result, they read less like pieces of journalism–there’s no hook, really–and are able to be more interesting, wide-ranging, and technical as a result.
His interview with Henry Threadgill is one of the more profound documents I’ve encountered, and I return to this page in particular on a regular basis. Threadgill’s remarks about jazz education came at a particularly fraught time in my own conservatory jazz training, and helped precipitate a sharp change in tack in my own studies. Here’s part of what Threadgill said:
I think they should invest in really teaching people music, just like the way medicine is done. You learn generally. You have to be a general practitioner, then you specialize. You want to be a podiatrist, you want to be an ear doctor, you want to be a neurologist, but first you’ve got to be a general practitioner. I sit up in front of some kids at a jazz school and start talking about music, and I say, “So how much Bach did you have to play and what other instruments did you have to study?”
What I want to start doing is interviewing musicians whose work I admire and who have, in some way or another, dealt with Threadgill’s critique: to be a musician specializing in jazz, rather than a jazz musician — or, really, to have specialized to such a degree as to be making something totally singular that still comes out of a particular lineage. These interviews are driven by a selfish desire: I’m hoping to learn from my betters; to steal ideas and inspiration injudiciously; and to hash out some very ill-formed ideas with sharper minds, so that I might come to a clearer understanding of my own positions.
Billy Hart and I used to argue for hours in lessons about one basic idea that he would insist upon: “It’s all music.” Jazz, classical, rock, whatever — to me, these were highly distinct worlds, with their own grammar and syntax and set of customs. For Billy it was all music. The implication from the standpoint of an impetuous student is clear–why transcribe Jo Jones if that language sounds as antiquated and affected as Elizabethan English–but the more removed I am from our discussions, the more clear it is to me that we agreed about more than we disagreed, and that the master was, as always, completely right.
Thanks to all who came to the Downtown Music Gallery show. What a cool store, thanks to Bruce and company for being our hosts. I’m in Maine for the summer working on some new music. Big plans in store for the fall, so stay tuned.
Zach Hobin did an awesome job performing my piece at Spectrum; I’m hoping to have a recording soon. Many thanks to everyone who came out! The sextet is playing at Downtown Music Gallery on June 2nd at 6 pm. It’s a free show in a great record store. It’d be great to see you there. After that I’m in Maine until August, but we’ve got lots of exciting things planned for the fall.