How did this collaboration with Thollem and the other artists for June 15-16 come about?
The residency at Studio Z has provided a convenient opportunity for me to bring some of my favorite fellow improvisers into what is--acoustically speaking--my favorite space to perform.
Though there are people who would blur the distinctions between improvised and composed music, I view the methods to be different. Composing for the page is, in part, about posterity--it is a way to project ourselves onto a future--a future which we assume will require lessons from the past. These performances are an effort to remain true to my roots as an improviser. They are an affirmation of what it means to be alive now, with others, as if that were all there is.
How do you choose who to improvise with and what makes a good improvisatory collaboration?
People should listen to one another, and these musicians do. But how to respond? These musicians have made it their priority to compose in living time; which requires an adeptness at drawing from one's surroundings to make something new, faced with the urgency of now. And what they bring to the ritual are unique, musically informed voices, a wealth of experience, technical range and the confidence to risk everything.
You have traveled to the Twin Cities several times in the past few years for solo performances and collaborations with local improvisers. What brings you back? What new relationships have formed from your visits?
I tour perpetually, so the Twin Cities are on my yearly route, more or less. This time, Davu Seru has brought me back as part of his residency at Studio Z. Davu is a remarkable musician, thinker and human being, and my relationship with him has been important to me. He's a curious person and artist and stands firm in his world views, writing eloquently about his informed opinions and ideas. He's a very responsive and fluid drummer/percussionist who hears the whole picture and nuance of every sonic moment in an improvised music setting. I also have good friends and family who live here, so it's always a bit of a homecoming for me!
Tell us about your "artistic and political commitment to egalitarian precesses" and how it plays out in your work.
For over a decade, I have been perpetually traveling, primarily focusing on improvised music and short-term collaborations. We are fortunate to live in a time with this concept of free improvisation that gives us the ability to connect with our fellow human beings in deep and immediate ways. One of the foremost concepts of free improvisation is that each individual musician's voice has something integral to offer the situation regardless of their experience level; each member of the group is respected for what they are able to bring and are solely responsible for the choices they make every moment along the way. This is a practice that I believe is important for civic life in a society. It's not a matter that everyone is equal; I do believe that experience and mastery of an instrument should be highly respected. At the same time, everyone's perspective has some validity, and everyone is capable of bringing something unique that can enlighten everyone.
I also believe that art is crucial to a healthy society, and by traveling perpetually, I am able to help make connections between communities, sometimes within the same town or city and sometime across national borders. My partner ACVilla and I have also dedicated ourselves to documenting artists as well as the focused work artists do in their communities through our project, Artists Engaged.
At this moment, my focus is in transition and this will actually be the last improvised music concert for me for some time. I have been developing several solo projects: Hot Pursuit Of Happiness, that I'll be touring for a couple of months leading up to the mid-term elections, and Technicolor Grey Zone, a project playing live scores to the films of 6 filmmakers. So, this concert will be a sort of swan song for me and this period of my life. It feels very appropriate, playing with Davu and the ensemble he's brought together.