Entrevista a Steve Coleman – Downbeat maig 2015

Everything’s a continuation. You’re the same person you were two years ago, with some added experiences, trauma, whatever happened to you. But there are significant artistic differences for me. (…) Every year I go on retreats, something like sabbaticals. Like Sonny Rollins, Don Cherry, Henry Threadgill, Randy Weston and classical composers, I go away to change the atmosphere, research and practice.

(…) The birds would be in the foreground, sometimes in the middle ground, sometimes in the background. It was almost like a three-dimensional kind of thing. That got me excited, because I thought if it in therms of orchestration, which I ended up calling “camouflage orchestration”. So that was a big difference, because I had the different instrument colors to work with.

(…) There’s the harmonic level and the rhythmic level. This is like an ecosystem in itself because these are all things that work together. That’s the content level, because it just deals with melody, harmony, rhythm and maybe form. Then you have substrate, what underlies something, what’s at it’s basis. All these melodies, these chords have to be in some kind of environment. I look at the music of Louis Armstrong, of Charlie Parker, of John Coltrane. The reason I give those three examples is because Duke Ellington once said that the history of this music can pretty much be summed up using three improvisers, and those are the three improvisers he named.
I said, “What are the things from Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane that are similar and what are the things that are different? What makes their music sound different, on a physical, functional level, in terms of the actual music? I wanted to know, how did the drums function with Louis Armstrong, with Charlie Parker, with John Coltrane? How did they treat melody, harmony? What I found was that the rhythm was a substrate underneath the whole thing. I look at the rhythm almost as a delivery system. When a listener i listening to the music, what’s the delivery system that’s bringing the music to their ears? What is the format that it’s riding in on? I’ve found that people respond first to the rhythm of music.
I thaught, “If I’m going to get to a music that’s personal to me, I’ve got to look first at this substrate thing or else I’ll pretty much be doing what everybody else is doing”. (…) I didn’t want to do the same substrate that Coltrane was dealing with, that Bird, that Armstrong were dealing with.

(…) And there was another element to it: comunication. When I came up, a lot of these older guys would say, “Tell your story, young man”. I wondered, “What story are they talking about?” I began to realize it was more than just figurative. They were thinking of it literally, like they were actually communicating something. I wanted to learn how does music without words tell a story.

(…) You can’t buy a concept. No amount of money has ever written a piece of music. I noticed early in my career that the more people got managers, the less they produced – not in terms of quantity but in terms of quality. They may do a lot of big things, but there’s that whole thing of not being as hungry. There are so many things you start managing that it takes time away from the music.

(…) Charlie Parker, etc. I was never interested in copying their music verbatim. This grant thing can give you a bit more space, but I was never the kind of guy to do gigs just for monetary reasons. I was always kind of hardheaded, and had I had a different attitude, I could have been way further along career-wise.

When I was younger, all we got was bad reviews. When you’re young, everybody’s older than you. You have people whose opinions are based on what happened before. If you try to do something that’s coming out of you, there’s less to compare it to. People usually are not going to like it. When you look at Charlie Parker, or Coltrane, or even Louis Armstrong, the people who didn’t like them were older for the most part.

Talking about things that inspires you, How would you mirror that in music? I start with attraction. Something inspires me. Then you figure out what you’re going to do with that information. You’ve got to study what that means. But that leader thing is fascinating.; it’s almost like it’s living. (…) Anything you can see that inspires you, you can imagine. This is all motion, and music is perfect for doing things with motion. All iI know is whatever I come up with, it’s got to be different than what I did before, because the concept, the starting point is so different. (…) There has to be a kind of critical mass where you have a feeling: “Now’s the time to investigate this.”. I try to investigate one thing on each sabbatical.

El so de la bateria del Jamboree

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Suposo que el primer concert que vaig escoltar al Jamboree de Barcelona va ser cap al 1997. Allà hi he vist i escoltat a moltíssims bateries d’aquí, d’allà i de més enllà, i tots (excepte l’Elvin Jones) han tocat amb la Gretsch de la sala. Recordo la sensació del primer cop que vaig tocar-la… vaig adonar-me que tenia molt clar el so d’aquella bateria en aquella sala. Que quan tocava la caixa, per exemple, em recordava a l’Aldo Caviglia, el bombo a en David Xirgu, el tom a en Jordi Rossy i el goliat a Roy Haynes…
Fa poc que han canviat la Gretsch per una Canopus, i em sembla (pel que em van dir) que vaig tenir l’honor d’estrenar-la. Després de tocar uns anys amb la Gretsch en aquella sala, vaig tenir la sensació que el so de la Canopus en certa manera m’ajudava a refrescar les orelles. Ja no tenia referents d’aquella bateria en aquella sala, i em feia sentir més lliure. Mai havia sentit que els referents de la bateria antiga m’impedíssin fer res. De fet, moltes vegades tocava amb afinacions d’altres bateries que havíen tocat el dia anterior, com Dan Weiss, Al Foster, Tom Rainey, Billy Mintz, …, però tocar amb la nova bateria va ser una sensació molt agradable. A veure què passa amb el pas del temps! Serà molt maco tornar a tocar la Gretsch d’aquí uns anys!

Ressenya del disc “Breakin the Lab!” amb Mats Gustafsson i Agustí Fernández

“Breakin the Lab! Live at Jamboree” a

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Agusti Fernandez, Mats Gustafsson, Ramon Prats – Breakin The Lab! Live At Jamboree (Discordian, 2013) ****½
This album starts in a very a-typical way, with barely any sound at all, requiring you, the listener, to turn up the volume because you think there’s something wrong. Then Gustafsson starts with quiet tong-slapping on his baritone sax, with Fernández and Prats making screeching noises on the inside of the piano and the outside of the drums, encouraging the mighty Swede to express himself better, which he does, with increasingly stronger screams in the same tonal register, louder and wilder and even savage and howling like only he can do it, like an animal in a fury, in a rage, and piano and drums just rumble on, creating huge momentum, supporting him, yet gradually the violence subsides and piano and drums get their own voice, in a jumpy kind of way, without clear rhythm yet full of darting intensity, like a foal getting out of the stable for the first time, with tense muscles releasing out of fright and joy at the same time.
The album is short, but it is great, and the five tracks show totally different dynamics than with some of the other bands, maybe also because Gustafsson drags the other two musicians to generate more power, but strangely enough also because Gustafsson is enveloped in the piano’s warmth at times, with my favorite track being “Uncommon Pataphysical Phenomenon”, which develops in various movements, starting with minimalist scratching of strings to almost hesitant soprano oscillations and when the piano coaches the trio through some angular and percussive action, the trio finds an incredibly strong common voice near the end, exuberant and expansive, full of sensitivity and power.
Great stuff!
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Primers concerts de Ramon Prats Quartet

Granollers, Girona i Vic.
És la primera vegada que estic al davant d’un grup, amb tots els temes escrits per mi, i em fascina la relació que hi ha entre el que un té al cap abans d’escriure i el resultat final. El fet de posar-ho en un paper o d’explicar-ho oralment filtra la idea original, obrint unes portes i tancant-ne d’altres. I així successivament amb tots els passos que hi ha des de la sonoritat interna original a la sonoritat externa final. I més encara, amb el factor de la sala, el públic… tot el que afecta a la recepció de la música.
M’agradaria trobar la manera d’acotar certs paràmetres per fer que la idea del tema es mantingui viva, que permetin que el vincle que es crea (o no) entre públic i escenari sempre pugui incorporar l’essència del tema.
No obstant això, quan el que sona se’n va de la idea original és possible que sigui perquè la MÚSICA està dient per on s’ha d’anar, i només per això, la composició ja té un sentit o una raó de ser.

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Carmen de Mairena i Sindicato Ornette

A la gira de presentació del disc Fotos de Sindicato Ornette, en Julián i l’Ernesto porten alguns temes nous. L’Ernesto comenta que ha estat escrivint algun dels temes conjuntament amb algun alumne seu de saxo. Hi ha un tema, amb un títol que no entenc…
Ens explica que té un alumne holandès que el dia que van escriure el tema es va trobar a la Carmen de Mairena i que li voldria dedicar el tema. Aquest personatge tant nostrat té algunes frases que el caracteritzen, com ara la típica de: “soy puta y mi coño lo disfruta”. Amb aquestes, el parell de compositors decideixen posar aquesta cita com a títol del tema, però per alleugerir-ne el to pacten posar-ho en holandès, sobretot pel fet que durant el solo de bateria la frase es va recitant en veu alta. És clar que la idea de posar aquest nom en una altra llengua era perquè la gent no entengués la frase… Doncs resulta que al concert de Cádiz, quan ens decidim a estrenar el tema, a primera fila s’asseuen quatre guiris que per sort o per desgràcia van resultar ser d’Amsterdam. Quan van sentir la frase que es recitava durant el meu solo es van quedar de pedra! Els tios flipaven… i nosaltres encara més quan després del concert ens van venir a demanar la partitura per veure si el que “havíen entès era el correcte o no”. Va resultar que sí… els hi vaig intentar explicar la història entre rialles i una lleugera sensació de vergonya. Finalment ho van entendre i ens vam fer un bon fart de riure, tots plegats.

Hazrad Inayat Khan i els llocs.

Tal com diu Hazrat Inayat Khan, els llocs tenen vida i memòria, s’hi pot sentir les històries que hi han passat i les coses que s’hi han viscut.
Les sales de concert en són un gran exemple. És fascinant tocar a sales on sents la força acumulada al llarg dels centenars i milers de concerts que s’hi han fet.

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