top of page

The Drive to the Finish!

Now it’s Thursday and I’m falling behind in my writing! I got home at 12:30am and  the schedule is super intense, with a potential concert to attend, every minute we’re not with JL.

So I’ve skipped the noon concert to play with Marco, an Italian bassist and do some decompression. There has been a lot to absorb here. JL’s opinions are so strong that it can be confusing. But I think I am understanding enough of what she says to appreciate her very individual point of view (that she preaches as gospel) and I think these passionate ideals are helping me to clarify my own! I may be wrong, but she believes music cannot be quiet as an ensemble, because that must be planned. She thinks minimalism is an exercise or an effect.

It seems like her years of experience have lead her past the aspects of improvisation that I find to be the real challenges: large groups playing free, interesting endings, the ability of the group to think as a community, etc; to knowing, thanks to her years of experience, what the outcomes will be: The large group will be chaos without time, or a conductor; the endings of pieces are usually quiet unless planned; The group must plan ahead to achieve a common sound, etc . SO where I like to keep trying, she has accepted the inevitable. I guess I‘d rather keep trying to hear that “ultimate large ensemble improvisation”! Maybe in 30 years I’ll “get the message”.

To JL music is freedom, jubilation, and life, and the result is reflected in all of our different personalities.

So I’m learning a lot here, I’m glad I’m a mature student, if I were any less experienced at this game, I think there is such a good chance that I’d be coerced into a single belief system when there might be many other possibilities.

Later this afternoon I get to go hear John Tilbury (with Keith Rowe) for the first time. He’s from the opposite side of the tracks from JL, the austere, exploring world of AMM and old English improv. He’s also my friend Sebastian’s teacher, which I think will be very enlightening! Also I get to hear Berlin Sound Connective and Axel Dorner!

Magda Mayas and Christine Abdelnour

Later…much later. This schedule is brutal! I just watch 4 concerts in a row, in 2 locations, after a full day with Joelle. Huge. And the concerts couldn’t have been more varied. We started on the top floor of a parking garage for a concert in the round. We were able to walk around the space to get different visual and sonic views. It was quiet and hot and peaceful music, with both pianists coming from a similar school of thought – lots of preparations and playing inside, sound was king! Magda Mayas is a very young artist, made some really beautiful sounds, compared to Tilbury, she was much more active inside literally drawing out a variety of sounds with strokes of her hands. Tilbury and Rowe played old school, with analog electronics and mostly lyrical chords on the keyboard, with a couple of ebows inside. The piece was very long, and we were all pretty sleepy, but the sounds were ever changing and so I remained awake and listening!

Later at Noumatrouff, we heard Berlin Sound Collective. Teriffic playing with loud analog reel to reel tape sounds! The quartet on stage was also processing on tape machines operated from the middle of the seats. When Jerome Noetinger played his electronics solo the lights dimmed on sage and lit up the speakers in the PA! Nice touch. The Axel Dorner played a quiet set with drums and analog electronics. He only ever played whooshes, and controlled his laptop with an interface to the instrument. I was pretty sleep at this point, but I loved the juxtaposition and similarities of the 2 sets of shows, loud and soft, and all focused on sound, as opposed to melody and rhythm. It’s quite wonderful to hear all this music.

The Master John Tilbury

Aug 25, 2011 at 20:45

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page