Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday weekend at Gooski's

Playing right now: Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers Ensemble- Inana (Pi)

I love going to Gooski's on Thanksgiving weekend. It's usually crowded, but the crowd usually includes a bunch of out-of-towners coming back to visit. The turnout is great for anyone playing there on either night. And unlike most people, the smoke doesn't bother me too much. At least not until I put my coat on the next morning.

On Friday night, I dropped by to try and spread the word about the Love Letters show happening there next week (although I didn't have any flyers to hand out) but also to see the Dirty Faces, Brass Chariot and House of Assassins. It's been awhile since I've seen Dirty Faces or House of Assassins, and I've been meaning to see Brass Chariot for awhile.

Once upon a time, the wife and I used to go to Gooski's for Sunday dinner, which usually consisted of wings and provolone sticks, with a pierogie or two switched in for one of the others. I decided to get some provolone to absorb some of the hooch a few drinks into the evening. Little did I know the current variety of provolone sticks are NOT the long skinny variety but the huge muscular ones that look more like those vegetarian field roasts that I saw plenty of last week at work. Or a more apt description is that they look like the scotch eggs from Piper's Pub. I ate three (more than enough) and gave the other two my friend Josh.

That snack came after House of Assasins' set and during Brass Chariot's. HoA is lead by Jason Baldinger, WRCT DJ and Paul's CD employee extraordinaire, and they cranked out a set of raw but right tunes, heavy on the lyrical twists. The lyrics got a little buried, naturally, in the mix, but it made me remember their album from a couple years ago and how the scope of his words made up for any vocal shortcomings he might have. A closing cover of "Turn the Page" was... ah, entertaining. But, brother, if you're going to do that song, remember to end it on "There Iiiiiiiiiiiii go-woh."

I had been listening to Brass Chariot from the other room while eating, admiring how tight and hard they sounded. Sam has been playing guitar for years, long before I came along and started checking out bands, but he fits right in with the next generation cats in this band. And it was great to see him and Ben (bass) standing there in the unlit Gooski's back room. Ben's hair has been a trademark look for years and Sam's mop comes close to the same size and shape. They made the Damned's "Neat Neat Neat" sound like it was their own. Someone commented on how loud they were, but they didn't seem painful to me. Then I realized that the guitars might have been muffled a bit by the power of the drums. But there was plenty of meat and potatoes there.

Crossing the third drink threshold.... provolone settling in, but not feeling like a cinder block, thankfully........ Dirty Faces took the stage in a ball of swagger. Almost didn't recognize guitarist Ernie when he said hi to me earlier, due to the salt and pepper in his hair and on his puss. T Glitter's puss was buried in a sea of long hair, which made me wonder if he had been sitting close to me all night and I didn't realize it. They guys rocked with no inhibitions whatsoever. There was six of 'em onstage, though I don't think I could hear the keyboard at all. The energy never ceased and they seemed to play a good long time, but my eyelids eventually got droopy. Since I had to work the next morning, I cut out before the set was over.

Friday, November 25, 2011

CD Review: Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms - Spacer

Sorry if you're here looking for the review. I'm filing a review with JazzTimes and it wouldn't be cool to have both of these up at the same time, so I pulled it down. Go buy yourself an issue of that magazine and read it there. (The copy with the review is not out yet, but you should still buy one anyway. Keep print media alive!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CD Review: The Four Bags - Forth

The Four Bags
(NCM East)

For a band whose instrumentation consists of trombone, clarinet/bass clarinet, guitar and accordion, the Four Bags sound extremely percussive as they start their album in "Wayne Shorter's Tune With All Different Notes." Michael McGinnis slap tongues a beat on his clarinet briefly during the theme to reinforce the tempo but everyone is blowing with such focus that the extra click acts like a nice addition instead of a click track. The piece is tightly arranged with everything in the pocket, so it's designed to groove.

Still, flying without the net sounds pretty impressive. McGinnis and trombonist Brian Drye solo in tandem first, with Drusky sounding especially inventive and light on his feet. Then guitarist Sean Moran and accordionist Jacob Garchik get their chance for parallel solos. The latter gets some great wheezes and backwards sounding notes out of his instrument while Moran wraps up a challenging solo with some pedal effects that turn his axe into a ring modulator.

And that's only the first track. Each member of the group composes, and they also cover electronic duo Air, and compositions by Brazilian and Persian performers. All of the New York-based Bags are active with a number of projects. Drye also leads Bizingas (reviewed here back in January 2011). Garchik has written for the Kronos Quartet and Slavic Soul Party. Moran has done everything from metal to accompanying vocalist Rene Marie. McGinnis has performed in Fela! On Broadway and Anthony Braxton's Trillium E Orchestra.

With all that diversity feeding into their music, the Four Bags change moods rapidly while maintain focus and that continuing knack for tight arrangements that makes their sound expansive. "Run" their Air cover, actually evokes Radiohead to these ears, since Drye's muted trombone evokes the whine in Thom Yorke's voice. McGinnis switches to bass clarinet for "Pope Joy," Moran's death metal spotlight where he switches to baritone guitar which again uses some sound-melting effects. One track later, Drye is demonstrating some lush long tones on trombone in "Comfort Toon," a ballad with some nice Bacharach chords at its center.

"Girias Do Norte," a forro (Northeastern Brazillian dance), is based on a bright folk melody and features the Bags skillfully working with counterpoint over a vamp. In another nod towards smart album programming, they follow that with "The Burning," a slow, pensive Persian composition that gets some Western spice from Moran's dramatic strumming.

Together since 1999, the Four Bags have released two albums prior to Forth. (Yes, they're funny too, as if the song titles and the anagrams on the front cover didn't make it clear.) The time has given them the chance to develop a rather unique style that keeps this album exciting from beginning to end. Hopefully they'll get some Year End list recognition. And maybe I'll try to hunt down the rest of their catalog.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blogging problems

The previous post was written early this morning, but I didn't get to post it until I got into work just now. (Don't worry, boss, I'm not on the clock yet.)

I upgraded to Internet Explorer 9 yesterday and now I know what I hesitated. For some unexplained reason, I can save drafts of posts but I can't publish them on the blog. Something to do with Javascript. And our new PC is the same way. I hate technology.

If anyone has suggestions or help, please put them in a Reply here. (All I could find in my haste this morning were umpteen "Yeah, I have the problem too" comments.)

Paul Motian - Last Words

File this one under the take-it-anyway-you-want: I was driving home from work last night a little before 6 p.m. I'm pretty sure the clock in the car said 5:53 when turned on the engine (recalled only because of my usual quandary of "do I bother to fish a CD out of my bag to listen to on the 10-minute drive home or just put the radio on....and what's on now?")

Paul Motian's name popped into my head, for no particular reason. A few months ago when Lee Konitz was interviewed in JazzTimes he alluded to the fact that Motian felt like he had said all he needed to say in interviews and that he didn't need to do anymore. Motian seemed like a bit of a curmudgeon, at least as far as interviewees go, too. Or at least he was a tough egg. So it got me wondering what I'd say to him if the chance ever arose for me to talk to ol' Paul. I thought about a Blindfold/Before & After test. Or just asking him, "How do you listen to music? Do you draw a conclusion on the first listen or do you give it several chances?" I suppose all of this came up because I wonder how many jazz musicians try to keep up with what all is out there - people who get buzz and people who deserve buzz. I wonder if his mailbox is flooded on a daily basis with CDs from people hoping to get his approval.

Of course as you already have concluded, or already know if you follow this music, Paul Motian died yesterday at the age of 80. Not only that, he died at 4:52 p.m., a mere 62 minutes or so before I started ruminating about him. Maybe it's a strange coincidence. Maybe his spirit reverberated across the stratosphere as it went on to the next place, and left me thinking about him. Maybe his parting words were, "Ain't gonna happen, man."

He was on original. Nobody played a kit like he did. Here's a good obituary on him if you want to read more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CD Review: Travis Laplante - Heart Protector

Travis Laplante
Heart Protector

Once at a Peter Brotzmann show, I ran into a saxophone player whose personal style was more in a straight ahead direction, having come up during the heyday of bop and hard bop. He, obviously, was open to other things since he was there at this show, and I asked between sets what he thought of Brotzmann's music. His reply went something like, "As an apparatus for producing sound, he really has a command of his instrument. His technique is incredible. As far as what he produces, I'm not really sure about that." It was clear he respected the German titan for what he did, because my friend could've said, "It's a bunch of noisy crap, and I'm leaving," but he didn't. (I'm pretty sure he stayed for two sets.)

This encounter came back to me while listening to Heart Protector, the solo album by Travis Laplante, a tenor saxophonist who also plays in the band Little Women and in a trio with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Solo albums can be intriguing if nothing else because they can make the listener wonder what inspired the soloist. Is the musician following changes they hear in their mind? Is it completely solo? Is it spontaneous? Is s/he lost in their own thoughts? Did you have to be there - "there" being inside their head - to fully appreciate it?

Laplante comes out of the gate impressively, blowing two harmonized tones on the opening title track, and he's clearly producing them simultaneously through his sharp technique. It's not clear at first, but there is melodic structure to what he's playing, as the whole thing repeats. Still, it's long, gruff notes and nothing else so it requires focus. "Five Points" shows a different skill, since he uses circular breathing to blow a torrent of notes that gradually shift in tone with the way he manipulates his fingering. It's barbed in a very Pharoah Sanders kind of way, climaxing after six minutes with 10 low honks from the bottom of the horn, delivered slowly, like someone who can't resist adding to a point they've already made. Although once you realize he's going to keep honking, it gets more entertaining.

At this point, after two of the five tracks, the interest in Heart Protector has more to do with Laplante's chops than his compositions. Which is conflicting because this music is clearly close to him. He wrote these pieces while suffering from a severe case of vertigo that debilitated him for a whole summer. Each one represents his struggle and eventual triumph over the illness.

Of course, I know all of this because of the disc's press release, not because of the music or anything contained in the cover. "The Great Mother" doesn't sound like a triumph over adversity. It sounds like a really good imitation of guitar feedback. Which is good, but... it gets a excessive in its simplicity.

The bits of the concept do come across to some degree in the final track, "The Tear Dam." After all the squonk and squeal, Laplante plays a straight forward, meditative melody, full of pregnant pauses and it ends with a repetitive sense of triumph. He says it makes him feel "emotionally naked" and his no frills delivery conveys that open feeling so the effect is penetrating.

While Heart Protector winds up being something of a mixed experimental bag, Laplante shows a smart sense of economy: the five tracks only last a total of 30 minutes, so he doesn't wear out his welcome.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CD Review: Nice Guy Trio & Darren Johnston

The Nice Guy Trio
Sidewalks and Alleys/Waking Music

Darren Johnston's Gone to Chicago
The Big Lift

(Porto Franco)

Both of these albums arrived at the beginning of the fall, collectively heralding the work of trumpeter Darren Johnston. They present the San Francisco resident in two different situations, each showing him to be a diverse performer and composer.

Sidewalks and Alleys/Waking Music is actually the Nice Guy Trio's second release. Along with Johnston, the group includes Rob Reich (accordion) and Daniel Fabricant (upright bass). For the two suites on the album, they also add two violins, a viola and cello. There's something wildly evocative about this kind of instrumentation that makes the music seem beg for some cinematic image to accompany it, and that's the case in Reich's five-piece Sidewalks and Alleys. Inspired by "countless hours spent wandering around the streets of cities, particularly San Francisco and New York," it begins with a slow minor waltz that evokes the pensive footsteps of such trips. While the pieces have a very written-through quality, there is room left for some improvisation. No group like this would feel complete without a tango, and for "The Inside Job," Johnston makes sure that it breaks from tradition with a solo renders that begins with some bent notes worthy of Lee Morgan and continues in something of a boppish mode.

Johnston composed the five pieces that make up Waking Music. His writing leans more towards jazz settings than Reich, and although it doesn't have quite the impact of the first set, his five tracks still have plenty to offer. The strings play with little to no vibrato and avoid giving the songs too much of a sweet color. When they do veer towards that end, in "Tiny Gods," they're balanced out by the minor key, a brusk 7/8 time signature and an intro that begins with Johnston blowing some smears and kisses. "Beyond the Paper Garden" has some stormy, heavy riffs from the strings, which may be the composer's way of describing the rough reality that comes with waking up.

As the band name of the other CD indicates, Johnston traveled to the Windy City in the summer of 2010, where he reconnected with compatriots Jeb Bishop (trombone), Jason Adasiewicz (vibraphone), Nate McBride (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums). They recorded six of the trumpeter's own pieces and two far-flung covers. The session sounds a little loose on first listen, but closer examination reveals a group working with some strong compositions, keeping a free feel while still showing a lot of forward motion.

What comes across in "The Big Lift," which opens the set, is the counterpoint between trumpet and trombone. They play parallel to each other, in a way that offers mutual support. Beneath them, McBride really grooves, even though this is a free tempo. The written section of "Rubber Bullets" amounts to just a few seconds of throat-clearing at either end of the piece, with Bishop and Johnston both blowing flurries of ideas (the latter with McBride again nearly stealing the show with some excellent bow work). This contrasts with "Cut" in which Bishop trades the out-of-breath attack for a vaguely romantic tone.

Johnston's writing, coupled with the approach of his bandmates, gives the album an original sound, which for the most part is not akin to easy comparisons. However the tricky time signature of "Glass Ceiling, Paper Floor" coupled with the instrumentation gives the tune some faint traces of Dave Holland's recent work. It also, being track four, features the first solo by Adasiewicz, who makes his presence known but doesn't overstep his boundaries. All of these, of course, should be considered positive attributes to the album.

To add to the diversity, Johnston chose a rather deep Ornette Coleman piece ("Love Call") and a Duke Ellington classic ("Black and Tan Fantasy") for his interpretations. "Love Call" begins in a very rubato mood and then gives the spotlight over to Adasiewicz, on the instrument that was probably least likely to be heard in a harmolodic mood. "Black and Tan" stays pretty faithful to the original, though it's Bishop who conjurs Bubber Miley with his plunger mute.

This is the part of the review where I tell you to keep an eye out for this guy, and for once there are actual performance dates to plug for each disc, although they're in different cities. (Anyone reading this in either place is encouraged to let me know.)

On November 18: Johnston will host a Big Lift CD release at the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco with a different band: Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Sheldon Brown (tenor sax, bass clarinet), David Ewell (bass) and Hamir Atwal (drums.

On December 2: The Nice Guy Trio will host their CD releaseat the Community Music Center in San Franciso.

On December 18: The Johnston's Gone To Chicago band will perform at the Hungry Brain in Chicago.

So keep an eye on this Johnston guy. And if, by some chance, someone reading this decides to check any of these shows out, tell them you read about it here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

CD Review: Wadada Leo Smith - Heart's Reflections

Wadada Leo Smith's Organic
Heart's Reflections

Wadada Leo Smith dedicated each of the four lengthy compositions on Heart's Reflections to a different musician or artist, although the music may or may not actually invoke the honoree's style. That doesn't detract from the power of the album. The trumpeter has once again brought together a band of electric and acoustic musicians, including four guitarists and two laptop "players," and created music that rolls along without excess. In fact, the group sounds a little more streamlined and focused than they were on 2009's Spiritual Dimensions, which was good but got a bit noodly by the end.

"Don Cherry's Electric Sonic Garden" is built on a fuzz bass riff, anchored by both John Lindberg and Skulli Sverrisson. This groove plays into the comparison to electric Miles Davis, especially considering the way Smith uses a minimal number of trumpet notes to say a lot (and his recordings with Henry Kaiser that pay tribute to Davis) but a lot of things differentiate this group. The groove is straight, without any extra rhythms over top. Pheeroan akLaff's drums sound more like a rock kit throughout the album, due to way he tunes his bass drum so low and lets it resonate. Smith sounds more gruff than Miles, and the way the guitars send out solar flares in the background adds a unique trimming to the music.

After a howling guitar solo by Michael Gregory, the rhythm section drops out briefly around the half-way mark (10 minutes into it, by the way), before it returns with a slightly different vamp to accompany Angelica Sanchez's electric piano solo. That slight break, along with another guitar solo (from Brandon Ross) and some swirling psychedelic textures, keeps the whole thing consistent.

Smith's composition titles can be a mouthful, and "Heart's Reflections: Splendors of Light and Purification" also consists of 12 individual movements or tracks, which spill from Disc One onto Disc Two. (On top of that, it's dedicated to one Shayk Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili.) There are moments in this piece where Organic sounds a bit like Prime Time, had that group all operated on the same melodic page. Some sections consist of Smith and akLaff going at it, some have an eerie group of sounds that could be either guitars or laptop noise adding to the suspense.

"Silsila," which opens the second disc, gives akLaff plenty of room and he uses it to play a solo that recalls Elvin Jones' masterful opening to "Pursuance" on A Love Supreme. His thundering crashes morph into press rolls and cymbal splashes that energize the quick rubato theme the group plays. The final two movements of the piece feature the best Smith solo on the whole session. His tone is loud and crisp, and here he plays with the bright authority of a classical trumpeter. It makes you appreciate both the depth of this composition and proves that Smith ranks high in the pantheon of jazz trumpet players. Or at least that he should.

"Toni Morrison: The Black Hole (Sagittarius A*), Conscience and Epic Memory" might be the longest title here, but at 10 minutes, it's the shortest track. It begins with some wild group noise, in a continuation of the previous piece's final moments, it seems. From there, it pulls back for some drones and sputters from the laptops and some violin scrapes before Sanchez plays an understated piano solo that slowly brings the group back in.

"Leroy Jenkins's Air Steps" pays homage to the late violinist with a 22-minute piece that alternates loud, full band sections and quiet lyrical passages. Smith should be commended for leading such a heavy group that can blow freely without ever getting too busy or heavy handed. While it's hard to single out each and every string player, they don't step on each other's feet either. A few quick stops and starts in the music indicates that this clarity isn't merely left to chance. These players are in tune with Smith's vision. More of those ghostly textures creep up behind his lyrical trumpet lines and Gregory creates some Fripp-like string attacks during his solo.

People with shorter attention spans might find the track listings on Heart's Reflections a big daunting, but it's easy to lose sense of time in this music, due to its power.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sebadoh article in Blurt!

Blurt posted my Sebadoh article on Thursday. Here it is. There were a few different angles I could've taken. Hopefully this one worked.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Ditty Committee in Pittsburgh

In the early '00s, I struck up a friendship with a New York band called Fake Brain, after they brought their spastic sort of indie rock to town a few times. They really seemed to be on the same page - or at least on the same chapter - as the Mofones.

Like most struggling bands they broke up before they garnered the big time success they deserved, but two members of the band continued playing together and last night their new lineup, the Ditty Committee rolled into town and played Rock 'n Bowl at Arsenal Lanes. Gideon, their lead singer, got in touch with me a while ago about trying to set up a show here for a mini-tour they were putting together. Considering how I've had mixed feelings about shows, and worrying about whether or not we could get a good crowd on a weeknight, I opted to put them in touch with Paul, who books Rock 'n Bowl. This way I'd get to see the band (first priority) and if they didn't exactly get a receptive audience (always a question there), at least it'd be a fun venue and they could make some dough. Well, they did, and everyone seemed to be happy. Except maybe my right arm, which got a little sore from using a bowling ball that was a tad too heavy.

After Fake Brain's traditional rock lineup (guitar, bass, drums and homemade keyboard/noise thing), I was pleasantly surprised by the Ditty Commitee's instrumentation: bass, keyboard sampler thingy (make partially of parts of the aforementioned thing), Casio (masquerading as a couple different things) and electric drums. After awhile it was clear the lyrical wit of Fake Brain had found a new home with this band and they use the instruments really well to create something solid that doesn't rely on the novelty of the sounds. These guys have a lot of great tunes. A lot of short ones too.

A few friends of mine showed up, who I told about the show and who I thought would appreciate them. Turns out, one friend works with a guy who knows the Ditty Committee and who will be playing with them in Morgantown on Saturday. And my friend Katie and her boyfriend let me bowl with them. We were all so-so bowlers, which made us a good team.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

CD Review: Gigi Gryce - Doin' the Gigi

Gigi Gryce
Doin' the Gigi

In the final, live portion of this CD, announcer MC Hugh Downs (yes, that Hugh Downs) describes Gigi Gryce's set as the music that "musicians have good reason to believe will outlast rock and roll music or any other kind of fad music that comes and goes. Maybe everybody thinks that except teenagers." That probably seemed believable in those days pre-Beatles days of 1957, yet it sounds terribly ironic when considering both the stature of that rock and roll music in the 21st century, and the stature of alto saxophonist/composer/publisher Gigi Gryce in the history of jazz. Most hard bop fans know his tunes like "Minority" and "Nica's Tempo," which have both been covered by musicians with discriminating tastes for years. He also played an active role on albums by no less than Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown for Blue Note.

But in his lifetime, Gryce was one the extremely talented but struggling musicians that fell through the cracks. He had lofty goals to run a publishing company that would get musicians the royalties they deserved, and to start his own record label. His good intentions burned him out and by the early '60s he kissed the jazz life goodbye and became a school teacher.

Doin' the Gigi uncovers some valuable radio broadcasts and unreleased sessions that offer some glimpses into the world of this alto saxophonist, who managed to hold a band together, get them tight and play music that was both innovative and accessible enough to gain fans. A close parallel can be seen with his friends Benny Golson and Art Farmer, who both played with Gryce before they started their Jazztet, which stressed the melodic swing over the frenzy of bebop.

The set moves in reverse chronological order, starting with a 1961 radio broadcast from Birdland, for better or worse with Symphony Sid announcing some of the four tracks. Richard Williams (trumpet), Eddie Costa (vibes), Richard Wyands (piano), Julian Euell (bass) and Mickey Roker (drums) join the saxophonist for a solid set that exceeds expectations of such a frontline. The original "A Premonition of You (aka Baby G)" has a structure similar to "Lover Man," although the closing phrase doesn't have the chord shift that gives the latter its hook. For "A Night In Tunisia," Gryce has Costa play the theme over a 6/4 rhythm, switching to the standard 4/4 to end the phrase. If that wasn't unique enough, the tag at the end of the chorus is taken in 7/4, clipping off a beat while adding to the urgency. Gryce has a tone like Charlie Parker, although he was less interested in drawing on bebop licks than establishing his own personality. The same group appears in two studio tracks for what seems to be plans for a self-released single. "Blues in Bloom," which lasted 11 minutes at Birdland, is limited to three here but still sounds tight.

Another session, found on a demo disc dated 1960, has Gryce, Williams, Wyands and an unknown rhythm section in an odd selection of tunes. Curtis Fuller's "Down Home," (another inclusion from the Birdland set) appears with "Stompin' at the Savoy," and "Take the A Train." All of them, especially the Strayhorn perennial, sound contemporary, by '50s standards, thanks to Gryce's arranging skills.

Back in 1957, Gryce was involved with the short-lived Signal label. Among his contributions was a quartet session with Thelonious Monk which included the pianist's rarely played tunes "Shuffle Boil" and "Gallop's Gallop." (Why the otherwise detailed booklet reduces that session to a passing phrase seems odd.) In June of that year, the label held a release party that was broadcast on tv, and is released here. This time the band includes Cecil Payne (baritone sax), Duke Jordan (piano), Wendell Marshall (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). Five tracks range from "All the Things You Are" to the Jordan-Payne "Man of Moods" (which sounds a lot like Charlie Parker's "Segment") and "Blues Walk," another much-contested melody that had been recorded by Clifford Brown, but is said to have originated with saxophonist Chris Woods.

All of these tracks last less than three minutes and commentary from Downs and Al "Jazzbo" Collins seem a little quaint all these years later. And while the liners make the argument that the brevity didn't give the quintet enough time to make an impression - thus contributing to Gryce's fate - it overlooks the fact that a lot of jazz back then was probably in the single format. So we jazz fans might dig an 11-minute workout more, but John Q. Public might get hitched on songs that come in short spurts on his television screen.

Taken together, it provides a nice profile on Gryce and makes me want to dig out the albums he did with Lee Morgan or hunt down the Prestige albums done under his own leadership.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The man with the best job in the world

Michael Cuscuna spoke tonight at Pitt as part of the university's Jazz Seminar. (The print version of my Q&A with him in City Paper is pretty short but you can find the whole, uncut interview, full of all kinds of jazz geek anecdotes, right here.)

When I got the William Pitt Union tonight, I saw Mr. C towards the front of the auditorium, talking to another guy. I got a chance to chat with him and found that he was as warm a guy in person as he was on the phone. He spoke for about 45 minutes, all killer, no filler. And when it came time for questions, I was actually first, asking how many Mosaic projects were charted for the future. (Answer - it all depends on when the label licenses the albums to him. Right now there are 2 in progress, and 8 on paper.) Someone asked about Andrew Hill, which I was glad to hear because the world needs more Andrew Hill champions. I really wanted to ask him who was more of a challenge to work with, Cecil Taylor or Andrew. But I didn't get the chance. After the talk, he had what seemed like an interview or something going on with some other fellow.

And now Michael has my card, so if he decides he needs a second banana to hang out with him while combing through the latest batch of tapes for his next project, and no one else picks up when he calls, then once pigs start flying, then he'll give me a call.