It’s 2018, and I am playing the most interesting and creative music of my life, and that is saying a lot. I am amazed at the breakthroughs and epiphanies that have occurred in the last few years. It is all unexpected. When I stopped travelling in 2008, a lot of opportunities stopped as well, and I was prepared for that. I needed to, once again, return to the roots of my music and rediscover some things that were lost and discover, for the first time, some new things. So, that said, let me tell you about my music today.
RHYTHM MATTERS: The Late 20th C. Quartet
This band came out of my desire to revisit a lot of the music I love.That meant playing anything and everything from the 1950s to 2000. When I first organized the quartet, the music included Brubeck, Sun Ra, Stanley Turrentine, Anthony Braxton, Mingus, Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Paul Motian, Ornette Coleman and… well, you get the idea. Since then, the band has solidified and the material has come together. While we still might touch any of those points, we’ve moved on into my own ideas about such things as Steve Coleman’s M-Base and the joy of rhythm. Luckily, I play with some of the best.
Drummer Tani Tabbal is an old friend, a master of rhythm and sound, and as knowledgeable a musician as I know. His resume’ runs deep, from James Carter to David Murray, Cassandra Wilson to Roscoe Mitchell. He is playing better than ever, in my opinion.
Bassist Pete Swanson is a more recent friend, introduced to me by drummer Todd Capp a few years back. Being able to work with Pete in this quartet makes every performance a joy. Pete is now based in Philadelphia but remains a big part of this band.
But the real impetus to bring this band together comes directly from my meeting, in late 2016, with the amazing guitarist Billy Stein. A native New Yorker with credentials in the avant jazz community, Billy played with drummer Rashid Bakr’s bands for decades.What lurked under that was an amazing harmonic knowledge and a true love for music: all kinds of music. I heard it in 30 seconds the first time we met, on a bandstand. He plays with no effects, just the sound of a jazz guitar. The clarity of his ideas is beautiful and full of light. It’s free as a bird and in tune with the world.I love being on the bandstand with him. He can whisper like Wes Montgomery or create a harmonic landscape as dangerous as Herbie Hancock or a melody as original as Ornette Coleman.
The three of these guys are magic, every minute and the smiles and the joy they show goes out to the audience, and the audiences respond in kind.
THE BURTON GREENE QUARTET LIVE 2017
Pianist Burton Greene is one of the pioneers of the avante gard, so-called “free music” of the 1960s, and his recordings on ESP Records inspired generations of players and audiences. I’ve known Burton for almost 40 years now, and the band he convened last autumn was another chapter in a long legacy. Burton asked me to join with drummer Tani Tabbal and the great bassist Adam Lane for a beautiful concert. Here is a live recording of this edition of The Burton Greene Quartet.
For those who like to know, I am playing my own S440 mouthpiece on my Couf Superba 1 soprano, with # 2 1/2 Marca Superieure reeds.