Sunday, October 14, 2007

Same old Surprises

A few weeks ago was the 25th anniversary of the first gig I did with the first serious band I ever played in. We were only together for a little over three years I think, but in my memory it was a lot longer. We were incredibly prolific, writing hundreds of songs together and recording constantly. That band got me started playing bass, got me started improvising, and trained me well for the grassroots tours and organizing I do to this day. I was the baby of the group, a high school dropout, and serious as cancer. At the time I really had no idea what a kid I was. I look at teenagers now and think "I was THAT?" Thank you Dan Kozak, Pete Levine, and Sam Imhof. I'm forever in your debt.

I just got back a couple weeks ago from a long tour in Spain, Portugal, and France with Madrid improviser extraordinaire, Wade Matthews, and something happened that should not have surprised me, but did just the same. For the last 25 years it's been pretty much a constant that the town I wasn't expecting much from turns out to be the sweetest gig. Every tour I forget this. Every tour I'm surprised. It never fails.

Hospitalet is a suburb of Barcelona. People I met in Barca said not to expect much from Hospitalet. They described it as a dull place, a conservative place. They couldn't be bothered to go there, and were surprised that we were. Wade had never even been there. Well, sure enough, after basking in the touristy lameness of Nice we drove an eternity and arrived in Hospitalet, expecting nothing, and what we got was something like a heroes' welcome. People cheered for us, gave me gifts, the room sounded great, and the vibe reminded me a little of Brooklyn. The audience was full of visual artists. I love artists. They always seem to meet the music in a very special way. I had a beautiful evening there, and though I shouldn't have been surprised, I was.

Now I'm in upstate New York, crashing for the evening at Art OMI ( after an enjoyable afternoon concert with the Flexible Orchestra. Tomorrow I play a solo bass gig in Boston and then Thursday I fly to Seattle for a couple gigs in the Earshot Festival, one with Wally Shoup, and one with Jane Rigler. Really looking forward to it. I haven't been to Seattle for a couple years...

Then when I get back from that I go into daily rehearsals with composer/pianist Denman Maroney for his upcoming tour with a quintet including myself, Ned Rothenberg, Dave Ballou, and Mike Sarin. I can hardly believe my good fortune. Then a handful of New York gigs with good friends, and I go on the road for a week with brilliant young players Jacob Wick (trumpet) and Andrew Greenwald (percussion). I'm a lucky man.