Ten Questions with Steven Bernstein

11 05 2010

Steven Bernstein is a composer/trumpeter that lives in NY. He leads the amazing bands Sex Mob and Millennial Territory Orchestra, and has played with many many many great musicians currently including Levon Helm and The Swell Season. I first met Steven when he visited Richmond to record with Fight the Big Bull—the sessions that would eventually become All is Gladness in the Kingdom, out now on CleanFeed Records. I took an arranging lesson with him, something that only Matt White had done up until that point. I didn’t know much about him, outside of his Diaspora work and Sex Mob, but I realized that he was a kindred spirit in his love of film and improvised music with direction. The lesson went great, and led to another one at his home in Nyack, NY where we ate pasta and listened to music all day, and I learned way too much! Bernstein’s interest in Richmond has really helped our scene immensely and we can’t thank him enough (though we constantly try)!

Be sure to check out his album with Fight the Big Bull and visit his site to find out when he’ll be in your area (or on Letterman).

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

I joined Peter Apfelbaum’s band at the end of 6th grade…in  the summer before 9th grade we started listening to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and our practices started to involve  “free” improvisation…. this is what I do.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

What does this mean?

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

Everything affects my work…..

4: Favorite Film(s)?

I like all kinds of movies……its hard to pick a favorite……I don’t like films that are stupid. I also like the tv show Kojak, and Ernie Kovacs.

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

It matters what day….today I am listening to the cd version of Taxi Driver, very different than the lp.

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

I read fiction as road distraction…… mainly Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiasann, James Burke…..
I do love James Ellroy’s trilogy.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

I read musician autobiography’s constantly, and biography’s…..also books about music… there is always a connection to be discovered. Recently reading bios of Hot Lips Page, Pee Wee Russell, Hollywood Film composers, and autobiography’s of Nelson Ridddle and George Martin.

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

No music is a guilty pleasure.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

No musicians are rated….its not like anyone cares…the people that are rated are athletes and people on television
I would recommend listening to Jimmy Nottingham, Marcus Belgrave, David T. Walker, Billy May and Ray Lucas…all very successful musicians…but maybe you haven’t heard them.

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

Dud Bascombe , Lester Young, Cornell Dupree, Defunkt, Ray Anderson, Jimmie Maxwell, Joe Mcphee, Jonathan Finlayson, Avishai Cohen.





Ten Questions with Matt White

3 05 2010

Matt White is a composer/guitarist based in our great city of Richmond, VA. He leads the band Fight the Big Bull, and they are just about ready to release their new collaboration with trumpeter Steven Bernstein All is Gladness in the Kingdom out May 11 on Cleanfeed Records. To honor this occasion, Matt has been kind enough to answer these questions, and next week you can look for the same questions answered by Steven Bernstein! Matt and I had worked together previously in the booking group Patchwork Collective, bringing some of the best improvisers to Richmond (including Ken Vandermark, Jandek, Tony Malaby, Tim Berne etc.), and giving them a new audience. That allowed us to form our own projects (who of course share many members) and put Richmond on the map. We’re still working on that last part…always! We also have a fantasy guitar duo playing nothing but 90’s music.

Be sure to join FTBB’s facebook group and keep up with them on their site and on myspace.

They’ve got some great collaborations in the works, including one with singer/musician David Karsten Daniels out in June on Fatcat Records!

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

My buddy’s mixtape that had Phish, the Allman Bros and Brooklyn Funkessentials on it….. from there Medeski Martin and Wood. They kind of opened up the whole world of improvised music to me.

I’m not sure what keeps me here other than an internal necessity to make music and for whatever reason my interests trend towards creative/improvised things.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchetra. Carla Bley is the best.

Steven Bernstein’s Diaspora Hollywood. Beautiful arranging, incredibly focused but very loose and organic. Enjoyable mentally physically and emotionally.

The Band’s Rock of Ages. So many things at work here. Allen Toussaint arranges music for The Band featuring Snooky Young and Howard Johnson among others.

Ken Vandermark’s Elements of Surprise. KV’s bold embrace of line over harmony was/is inspiring as well as the piano/guitar-less format. Ken also embraces history and tradition in a deep way that is very apparent in all of his recordings.

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

I’m inspired by excellence, work ethic, boundary pushing, creative organizing,  and individual voices everywhere – art disciplines and otherwise.

4: Favorite Film(s)?

I don’t really watch movies? Is that ok? I’m entertained so easily by movies on big screens its almost embarrassing. I loved Rockers.

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

Don’t really do a lot of checking out film scores out but I did get really into Max Steiner’s King Kong score. I also enjoyed the score from Shutter Island which was really a 20th century classical music mixtape by Robbie Robertson which is kinda wild. I checked out a lot of James Bond scores because Steven Bernstein is way into those and also a lot of the early early Hollywood composers (Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman) for the same reason.

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

I only read Jules Verne.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

Unfortunately, I only really read nerdy music books…

(in nor particular order)

The Rest is Noise

Reggae Music (first editions known as Bass Culture)

Early Jazz

Steve Lacy Conversations

The Jazzology Press New Orleans books

Space is the Place

Dr. John’s autobiography Under a Hoodoo Moon

I also just read Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer and that was awesome.

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

Lil’ Mama, …but I don’t feel that guilty about it.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

Karl Blau

Carla Bley

Pinson Chanselle

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

I recommend folks come to Richmond and check out the kinda unbelievable scene here. I also recommend everyone check out early Carla Bley records… try Tropic Appetites, so far ahead of its time.





Ten Questions with Ken Vandermark

27 04 2010

Ken Vandermark is an experimental composer/reeds player living in Chicago, Il. His credits are too numerous to mention, but my favorites include his group the Vandermark 5, his work with Peter Brotzmann in Brotzmann’s Tentet, Territory Band, Powerhouse Sound (with fellow TQ alum Jeff Parker). He’s always on tour and always pushing his music in bold new directions. Truly one of my favorite musicians to follow (almost in a Grateful Dead kind of way). What started out as a great idea:

Me: “Hey Ken, we should do the interview on Twitter!”

Ken: “Sounds great!”

quickly collapsed when the realization hit that other people follow both of us, and the process was making the interview take longer and providing less information. I might try the Twitter thing again, but if so, limit it to a one day thing! Anyway, enjoy the interview and check out Ken’s Discography for some great new material, including releases with The Ex, The Frame Quartet, and a new duo album with Tim Daisy.

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

kenvandermark@glowsinthedark #1: I got into Jazz and Improvised Music by seeing it live all the time as a kid, my father took me to shows since I was 10.

kenvandermark@glowsinthedark #2: As I got older I wanted to hear more avant garde sounds- Joe Morris, Joe McPhee, Ayler, Cecil Taylor, Brotzmann, Kowald.

kenvandermark@glowsinthedark #3: Getting to work with some of the people who inspired me to play is a major force, keeping me driven to develop new work.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

kenvandermark@glowsinthedark I’d say that the 1st Vandermark Quartet album, Big Head Eddie was important, it made people outside of Chicago aware of us.

kenvandermark@glowsinthedark Meeting In Chicago w/Joe McPhee and Kent Kessler was significant, it was my 1st chance to work w/ an artist who shaped me.

kenvandermark@glowsinthedark Transatlantic Bridge by Territory Band-1 integrated my interests in American and European developments in Improvised Music.

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

I’d break the other arts and their influence on me into 3 main categories- film, painting, and Beckett.

Film has suggested ways to organize music with methods of cutting, montage, cross fades, etc.; building structures

that are not based on musical “conventions.” Painting, particularly by artists associated with the “New York School,”

has also suggested different ways to deal with form and content; in addition the discipline of these artists as they

faced ignorance and indifference has kept me focused on what I feel I need to do creatively, despite other people’s

opinions. And Beckett is about as focused as an artist can get. Plus, his editing process, getting to the crux of

communication, eliminating everything unnecessary, is something I need to keep learning from.

4: Favorite Film(s)?

“The Battleship Potemkin,” [Eisenstein]: Odessa Steps set the “rules” of editing, action, and visual organization for film.

“A Touch Of Evil,” [Welles]: hard to choose this over “Citizen Kane” (the other major film language “source”), but Welles’ use of sound and the camera in motion is still radical.

“A Clockwork Orange” [Kubrick]: perhaps my favorite director, his adaptation of Burgess’ novel is truly perfect.

“8 1/2” [Fellini]: film within a film structure about the creative act married to a Nina Rota score, bloody incredible.

“Seven Samurai” [Kurosawa]: hard to choose between so many great Kurosawa films, but this defines “kinetic.”

“The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” [Leone]: this covers all bases- story, cinematography, soundtrack, acting, genre study.

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

5 favorite scores: 1. “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (Morricone); 2. “Duck You Sucker,” (Morricone); 3. “8 1/2,” (Rota); 4. “A Clockwork Orange,” (Carlos); 5. Carl Stalling’s music for the Warner Brothers cartoons.

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

(sorry it’s taken a while): Favorite fiction writers are Beckett, Borges, Burroughs, Faulkner, Ellroy, JDenis Johnson.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

Artists biographies and monographs: painters, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, writers.

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

Funk and Reggae.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

Living: Ab Baars

Dead: Pee Wee Russell

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

John Carter, Jimmy Giuffre, Don Cherry, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Magnus Broo, Paal Nilssen-Love, Håvard Wiik, Tim Daisy, Joe McPhee… How many would you like?





Ten Questions with Steve Lehman

16 07 2009

Steve Lehman is a composer/alto saxophonist living in NY. I first saw him as part of Anthony Braxton’s 12 + 1tet at the Iridium in 2006, and since then have really gotten into his music. His writing is very complex, but clear enough to be easily digestible. He also has a knack for coming up with great concepts and translating them clearly to an improvised setting. On his latest album Travail, Transformation and Flow Lehman leads an Octet of musicians (featuring Ten Questions alum Tyshawn Sorey and former VCU’er Mark Shim) through a set of music derived from studies in spectral harmony. There’s a great description here, and it sounds complicated, but the resulting music sounds amazing from start to finish. Also, the album features a cover of GZA’s masterpiece “Living in the World Today,” and what collection of spectral harmony music would be complete without it!

Check out his music here

For more on the man himself, go here

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

When I first heard Charlie Parker’s music, at age 10, everything
changed for me. I definitely had one of those thunderbolt moments that
so many people seem to experience when hearing Parker’s music for the
first time.

For me, making music and performing music is about connecting with
other people, finding out about myself, and trying to find some sense
of meaning as a result of my own experiences and my shared experiences
with my colleagues and everyone else who feels they can relate to the
music I’ve involved with.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

There are hundreds of albums that have been incredibly meaningful to
me and taught me a lot about myself and the possibilities for what
music can be. A few that immediately come to mind…

1. Charlie Parker – Walkman Jazz Compilation
2. Dexer Gordon – Homecoming (Live at The Village Vanguard)
3. Aceyalone – Book of Human Language
4. Jackie McLean – The Jackie Mac Attack Live
5. Michael Finnissy – String Trio
6. Anthony Braxton – Fall 1974
7. Evan Parker – Monoceros
8. Gerard Grisey – Les Espaces Acoustiques
9. Mark Shim – Turbulent Flow
10. Antipop Consortium – Tragic Epilogue

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

This question is hard for me to answer. I think when I’m inspired by a
filmmaker or an artist it usually has to do with formal design and
structure. Sarah Sze and Julie Mehretu are two visual artists whose
work often has a lot of resonance for me. Their work is so expressive
but it also seems to privilege meticulous attention to detail and
technical expertise.

4: Favorite Film(s)?

My wife is a filmmaker, so I’ve seen a ton of incredible films thanks
to her. A handful that I seem to keep coming back to…

Killer of Sheep
Blazing Saddles
Cache
Jackie McLean on Mars
La Promesse

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

I love Neil Young’s score/playing for the Jim Jarmusch film “Dead Man.”

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

Edward P. Jones
James Baldwin
Aleksandar Hemon
Herman Hesse

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

It’s rare that I get to do non-fiction reading that isn’t music-related…

The New York Times
The New Yorker
The Economist
The Wire
Music Perception

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

I’m too old to be embarrassed by any of the music I listen to. I do
love to play NBA Live 2008 on my PSP (Playstation Portable) which is
definitely something of a guilty pleasure…!

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

A few that come to mind…

Arthur Blythe
Michael Finnissy
Stanley Cowell
Freddie Waits
Fats Navarro
Saafir
Kevin O’Neil

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

Too many to list. This time around I’ll give a big shout out to the
amazing Paris-based percussionist/composer Karl Jannuska. If you don’t
know now you know.





Ten Questions with Joe Lally

26 05 2009

joe2

Joe Lally is a bassist/vocalist who first gained international acclaim as a member of the D.C. band Fugazi. Since then, he has started a solo career that has lead to tours all around the world. His solo work is really good, and we’re excited to be playing with Joe on Monday, June 1 at The Camel at 9pm!

For more info and to purchase Joe’s solo albums, check out his website:

joelally.com

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

Discovering bands that no one else seemed to know about and watching them play in theaters or small clubs really opened an alternative world to me. None of the friends in my neighborhood would even go see these bands with me. I was in an art class in high school in which people came from their school in the county and spent 3 periods there. In that class I met a guy named Ivan Martinez who turned me on to everything punk rock and took me to many shows. Although I wouldn’t play an instrument until I was out of high school it was seeing all the local bands that made me feel I could do this.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

Both the Sex Pistols and Ramones first records for their overall energy delivered with such simplicity. Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures and the First Public Image record. Again for their gut level energy and spare musical approach but artistically got my imagination going.

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

Other than constant work, practice, I’m not sure what you might mean here.

4: Favorite Film(s)?

If this is determined by how many times we watch a film I would have to say Duck Soup or Animal Crackers. Otherwise I think it changes a lot.

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

Ennio Morricone’s Crime and Dissonance on Ipecac is a great sampler of songs from films. This doesn’t contain the spaghetti westerns at all.

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

Anything by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

Studs Terkel, for example: Hard Times or The Good War.

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

I’m not sure there’s anything left to feel guilty about liking.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

Billy Cox, Bobby Leibling, Christina Billotte.

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

Hamid Drake, Nina Simone.





Ten Questions with Tyshawn Sorey

5 05 2009

Tyshawn Sorey is a NY based composer and drummer. He first came to my attention as the drummer in pianist Vijay Iyer’s Quartet on the “Blood Sutra” album. He still plays with Iyer in the trio Fieldwork, with Steve Lehman rounding out the trio on sax. When Sorey’s debut as a leader came out on Firehouse 12 Records, I kind of freaked out about it here. It was so unlike anything I expected after hearing him in other contexts, and pretty much blew me away.

Tyshawn stays busy writing and performing, and in August, he’ll be curating the shows at The Stone in New York so you will be able to see him in a wide variety of settings.

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

During my formative years in Newark (N.J.), I was always interested in creating things…  I drew a lot, painted, wrote short stories, etc.  But it’s nothing important, really.  My father, in particular, exposed me to many different types of music growing up.  Since around the age of 2 or 3, I knew I wanted to be some kind of musician.  I was never the type to associate myself with any genre of music, because I knew that somehow there was much more to absorb and learn from than what I was exposed to.  So then I began listening to music from other cultures and then delving more into gospel music (my mother was an aspiring gospel singer in a local church, and I still think about how amazing she was at it), country, blues, other types of jazz expression, classical, and dance music.  It was always in me to try and check out as many things as possible, and it was only natural for me to simply listen to the music for what it was.  I mean, there was never any real “way” I became aware of my interests in music and creating, because it was already there from the get-go.  All I would listen to back then was more traditional sounding stuff from WBGO or WKCR only to later discover that I became somewhat of a “jazz purist”.  It became apparent to me that I was listening to music in one “way”; that it was time for me to eliminate the idea of taste, likes, and dislikes and take from whatever I listened to and let it be a part of my musical makeup.  I believe that every listener of music listens in their own way, and I did not want to listen in ANY WAY…but to JUST listen – no feelings that “something sucks” or “something is catchy”, etc.  then, my tastes would not let me fully experience what was happening in the moment.  To listen to something without “listening”.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

There are WAY too many for me to list.  But here are a select twenty of these:
1 )  Charlie Parker – The Dean Benedetti Recordings
2 )  The Complete Louis Armstrong Hot Five/Hot Seven Recordings
3 )  Pierre Boulez – The Three Piano Sonatas
4 )  Captain Beefheart – Lick My Decals Off Baby
5 )  James Brown – Live At The Apollo, Vol. I
6 )  Max Roach – Drums Unlimited
7 )  Nirvana – In Utero
8 )  Karlheinz Stockhausen – Gesang der Junglinge/Kontakte
9 )  Otis Redding – Live In Europe
10 )  Anthony Braxton – The Complete Braxton 1971
11 )  Jimmy Smith – Crazy Baby
12 )  John Cage – Atlas Eclipticalis and Winter Music
13 )  Cecil Taylor – Indent
14 )  Milford Graves – Stories
15 )  Gorguts – Obscura
16 )  Steve Coleman and Five Elements – Black Science
17 )  Muhal Richard Abrams – Levels and Degrees of Light
18 )  Alvin Lucier – I Am Sitting In A Room
19 )  Morton Feldman – For Samuel Beckett
20 )  Prince – Around The World In A Day

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

Well, besides art disciplines…Zen Buddhism, literature, and painting has had a very profound affect on my work in many ways as well as the way I listen to music, which is really no way at all – positively speaking.  Those two things are the primary generators for my work, as well as the experience of everyday life…which, for me, is improvisation in all senses.  As far as favorites in these fields: Robert Rauschenberg, Alan Watts, and Charles Bukowski are among my favorites.

4: Favorite Film(s)?

Again, I will pick a select twenty to choose from – as it would not be possible to list them all:
1 )  All movies directed by John Cassavettes, notably Shadows – which is all improvised
2 )  All movies directed by David Lynch, notably Mulholland Drive
3 )  Werner Herzog – Herz aus Glas
4 )  Richard Pryor – Live and Smokin’
5 )  Robert Altman – 3 Women
6 )  Takashi Miike – Ichi the Killer
7 )  Andrei Tarkovsky – Andrei Rublev
8 )  Spike Lee – Malcolm X
9 )  Nicholas Ray – Rebel Without A Cause
10 )  Jonathan Demme – Silence Of The Lambs, The Manchurian Candidate
11 )  Rob Reiner – A Few Good Men
12 )  Martin Scorsece – Taxi Driver, Goodfellas
13 )  Bryan Bertino – The Strangers
14 )  Francis Ford Coppola – The Godfather I & II
15 )  Carol Reed – The Third Man
16 )  Oliver Stone – Scarface, Natural Born Killers
17 )  Gordon Parks, Jr. – Super Fly
18 )  George Stevens – The Diary Of Anne Frank
19 )  Jon Landis – The Kentucky Fried Movie
20 )  James Melkonian – The Jerky Boys

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

No specific film scores come to mind, although I have a fond appreciation of the work of film score composer Bernard Herrmann,  as well as all of the scoring for Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason.

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

Right now I’ve been getting into the works by Phillip Pullman – His Dark Materials; Henry Miller – Tropic of Cancer; Samuel Beckett – Krapp’s Last Tape, Not I, and a bunch of other stuff; J.D. Salinger – The Catcher In The Rye; Charles Bukowski – Burning In Water Drowning In Flames; Arthur Miller – The Crucible, and a few others.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

Amos N. Wilson – Black On Black Violence; Alan Watts – The Way Of Zen; George E. Lewis – A Power Stronger Than Itself; John Cage – Silence; Carter G. Woodson – The Mis-Education of the Negro; William Parker – Who Owns Music?; and Dusty Bunker – Numerology and the Divine Triangle.

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

None I could think of…for me, there is no such thing.  I have been checking out a lot of stand-up comedy recordings of the following artists in particular: Richard Pryor, Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy (his early stuff), Lenny Bruce, some Redd Foxx, Lewis Black, George Carlin, Paul Mooney, and a few others.  But I don’t see any qualitative difference in their work and how it has also been influential to me.  The same goes for listening to Joni Mitchell, Tupac, D’Angelo, Blondie, Wu-Tang Clan, Elliot Smith, Autechre, Meshuggah, or any other type of music.  I mean, I can listen to anything I want and to simply let it come to me…if it doesn’t come to me then I’ll go to it.  But then, if I don’t like the music, the fault is on me – I create the problem with listening to it…  I have to know this for myself, as a human being, that I am not interested in creating a “guilty pleasure” music that has the potential of being brought down to its’ lowest common denominator to sell a lot of CD’s and all.  However, it should also be clear that I do respect it for what it is and for the effort these people put in to express themselves as they wish.  As far as feeling guilty of listening to this is concerned, I don’t.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

I’ll go out on a limb with this one…since this is something that has been bothering me for some time.  There are so many people I wish to list, but the underrated COMPOSERS who I want to discuss are also percussionists that we all know.  Susie Ibarra is my favorite percussionist/composer around right now, and I find that it’s a shame that not many people know that she has a lot to offer as a composer, not to mention the amazing work she is doing.  The same should go for Paul Motian, Mark Guiliana, Gerald Cleaver, Andrew Greenwald, Dan Weiss, Billy Martin, Joey Baron, Marcus Gilmore, Milford Graves, Tommy Crane, among others…  I personally believe that these drummers who are also composers and/or play other instruments should be recognized for all of how they express themselves, as opposed to only being credited for their sideman work and/or for their drumming abilities. It’s interestingly ironic because what these drummers contribute to the music of their respective bandleaders is so strong and powerful that what they create becomes an essential part of the music itself; they MAKE the composition, as far as I’m concerned.

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

All of the above, as well as Aaron Stewart, Todd Neufeld, Otis Brown III, Jesse Elder, Steven Ruel, Sara Serpa, Thomas Morgan, Fay Victor, Carlos Homs, Eric McPherson, Ingrid Laubrock, Nate Wooley, Russ Lossing, Greg Scrulloni, Steve Lehman, Kris Davis, Randy Peterson, Jacob Sacks, Meilana Gillard, Frank Rosaly, Jen Shyu, Darius Jones, Andre Matos, Matana Roberts, Ben Gerstein, Okkyung Lee, Terrence McManus, Joe Albano, Michele Rosewoman, Carl Maguire, Rich Woodson, Mat Maneri, Billy Mintz, Aaron Burnett, Nasheet Waits, Jeff Parker, John Hebert, Loren Stillman, Vardan Opsevian, Pete Robbins, Taylor Ho Bynum, Judith Berkson, John Escreet, Adam Niewood, and many others…this will take forever to finish.





Ten Questions with Ches Smith

30 12 2008

Ches Smith is a drummer/composer living in NY. He is an extremely busy and fast rising presence on the new music scene. If there was a tabloid covering free jazz, than he would have been caught by the paparazzi playing with such numerous figures as: Marc Ribot (in Ceramic Dog), Devin Hoff (in Good for Cows), Mary Halvorson, Tony Malaby (in These Arches), Xiu Xiu, Trevor Dunn (in Trio Convulsant), and many many more. Luckily Ches was able to take time out of his busy schedule to answer the Ten Questions.

You can find out more about him here:
Ches Smith
Myspace

He has many great records out, including his solo percussion album Congs for Brums which can be purchased here.

And his group Good for Cows has a 10th Anniversary show coming up, so keep an eye out on their site.

1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?

There was a scene of punks who improvised in Sacramento, CA where I grew up. They were older than me, I looked up to them. I thought noisy improv fit nicely under the punk umbrella. Also, these people led me to believe the idea was to be open to a lot of different stuff. This style of ‘mentorship’ continued when I met Jake Pavlak and Dana Axon in Eugene, Oregon, Willie Winant and Mr. Bungle in the SF Bay Area, and Marc Ribot in New York.

2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?

John Coltrane’s Om, and A Love Supreme, Miles Davis’ Nefertiti, Slayer’s Reign in Blood, Minor Threat’s Complete Discography.

Also, attending many concerts at a creative music series in Eugene, Oregon from age 17, and hearing Gino Robair, Derek Bailey, Bill Frisell Trio (w/ Joey Baron), and John Tchicai, among others.

3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?

A good idea can be used across disciplines.

4: Favorite Film(s)?

Recently: Trouble The Water, Milk, Synecdoche New York, Ornette Coleman: Made in America.

A long time now: American Movie, Divine Horsemen, Cannonball Run, Space is the Place, Stranger Than Paradise.

5: Favorite Film Score(s)?

No Country for Old Men

6: Favorite Fiction Reading?

Right now I am reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Too soon to tell if it is a favorite.

7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?

Paul Farmer, ‘The Uses of Haiti’, Maya Deren ‘Divine Horsemen’, Twyla Tharp ‘The Creative Habit.’

8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?

I don’t feel guilty at all for listening to Blowfly and the Mentors.

9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?

John Amira, Prurient, Carla Bozulich, Sunny Murray, Milford Graves, Peter Magadini.

10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?

David Horvitz, Lucky Dragons, Miya Osaki, Wu Fei, Angelica Sanchez, Howard Wiley.