April 9 solo concert at the University of Alabama

On the rare occasions I’ve been afforded the opportunity to present my work outside the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the logistics have consistently been less than ideal. (The reasons for this state of affairs are clear. As I’ve reiterated too many times, I am not a “viable commodity” in the niche world of free jazz/improvised music. More to the point, I’ve not adopted the careerist modus operandi to position myself as such. That stated, I have always felt that one should be fairly compensated for one’s work. Granted, that’s seldom been the case for local concerts. But, given my focus on self-determination [and lack of an appetite for cultivating a following], that’s to be expected. Traveling/touring is, for me, another matter entirely.) However, thanks to my budgeting skills (courtesy of my late parents), along with considerations from friends and colleagues, I’ve not only come out ahead economically while traveling, but have earned enough to cover bills back home. (The notable exception was my 2018 trip to Austria. It was clear from the outset that, despite my travel, accommodations and food being essentially covered, that I would end up marginally in the red. I elected to make the trip anyway out of the regard I have for Fritz Novotny and the reformARTunit family, to say nothing of considerations I’ve received from them in the past.) And this brings me to my upcoming solo concert at the University of Alabama as part of the Sonic Frontiers concert series. For the first time (and, of course, barring life’s vagaries), I am not only receiving a fee much more commensurate with my experience, and, I daresay, devotion to the work, but my travel, (extremely suitable) accommodations and food are covered as well. For this, my gratitude goes out to soprano saxophonist/composer Andrew Raffo Dewar, who founded and curates Sonic Frontiers. But, let me back up a bit. (Moi? Digress?) My relationship with Andrew goes back to the early 90s, when, for a time, he regularly attended concerts by the Milo Fine Free Jazz Ensemble at the West Bank School of Music (and elsewhere). As he tells it, I became a mentor of sorts for him as he was discovering and getting involved with improvised music. He moved out of state, but, when returning to visit relatives (and get married [only once so far]), we would touch base, and, within that, do some playing; concerts as well as private sessions. At one such session in my basement which included vocalist Tim Eriksen, Tim suggested that Andrew bring me out to Wesleyan University in CT to interact with students as well as present my work. Andrew, a graduate student at the time, had not done anything like that previously. Despite some trepidation (personal as well as practical), he thought it was a good idea. Given the nature of institutions/ bureaucracies, there were any number of hurtles to be cleared. But, cleared they were and, in 2004, I made the journey. Andrew was studying/playing with Anthony Braxton at Wesleyan, and, much to my pleasure/surprise, Anthony offered me his class for a workshop, introduced me at the colloquium, and arranged for us to do some recording, which resulted in the duo CD SHADOW COMPANY. Additionally, as Andrew did his masters’ thesis on the late Bill Dixon, an artist whose work I more or less introduced to him years before, arrangements were made for me to journey to Bennington VT to meet, and spend a most memorable day/evening with Bill and his wife Sharon. (Bassist Andrew Lafkas, a regular collaborator of mine in the 00’s before he moved to New York, accompanied me and did the driving. Additionally the 2 Andrews and I played three rewarding concerts in 3 east coast cities as a threesome; and, in one case, a quartet.) However, the accommodations on this trip were, shall we say, suboptimal. Granted, everything else more than made up for the discomfort. But as a result of this experience, Andrew was then able to maneuver through the bureaucracy more effectively. Thus, his subsequent Wesleyan guests were afforded very pleasant amenities. In essence then, I was his guinea pig. [smile] As was more my way at that time, I regularly gave him (mainly) good-natured shite about it. When he got his gig at the University of Alabama in 2008, he told me he’d be bringing me down to do some playing, workshops and the like; this time with solid amenities. The invitation was (finally! [smile]) made last year, but the inevitable wrinkle of academic politics reduced the scope of my visit. Thus, a week-long stay was reduced to 3 days. But, in addition to the April 9 solo concert, Andrew and I will be doing some recording the previous evening. It’s been too long since we’ve interfaced musically. (Trio Raro with Davu Seru in St. Paul/2009 was our last go-round.) As I hold his soprano work in high regard, I am looking forward to reestablishing our collaborative work. But, the real punchline is the fact that, for all intents and purposes, this will be the final Sonic Frontiers event. Thus, as concerns Andrew’s role as concert curator I am the alpha and omega; or to put it more prosaically, the bookends.

2 thoughts on “April 9 solo concert at the University of Alabama”

  1. Glad to hear you’re getting out of the snowbank, if only for a few days. As always, I will be interested in hearing the results of this outing (I can already hear you groaning).

  2. No groan necessary. [smile] As I understand it, the concert will be videotaped by folks at the University and made available to the public. In addition to linking it to my website, I’ll pass along the link to you personally.

Leave a Comment