Playing Live: Brushes and Basses and Radio and Sampler O My

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Last Friday, Lew and I did a quick “almost” announced gig at a beautiful gallery in Aurora (yes, there really is one). As you might know, Lewis Achenbach paints live as the music unfolds. The gig was a milestone for me, as the expected percussionists had car trouble and I was set in a solo format.  Challenging, out of the box, scary. Good thing I didn’t know until after I started. To play 2 sets of completely improvised music using my fretless tenor bass, sampler and radio, along with my now indispensable Charlie Foxtrot pedal proved to be cool. I have a few shows like this coming up in the Fall too, so it was a good trial. No pressure either as it was a slow hot July afternoon, and the “audience” was tiny. But it felt good.

Onwards and Downwards!

Lewis Achenbach captures The Empty Set

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At the premier of my new project,  The Empty Set, a special Jazz Occurrence happened. Artist Lew Achenbach has had a series of these shows all over Chicago. They feature live free music (jazz and otherwise) with Lew painting the music as he sees it..hears it..BOTH.  So here we are, a live painting from that night, Eve, Bil and me. The work is large, and he was concentrating on the colors we made. If this makes sense to you, you’ll know what we sound like. Thanks Lew.  Go HERE for his FB page and a lot more Big Art.

On the Radio

Radio CHIRP last Late Show playlist

The Late Show on Radio CHIRP is what a real radio program was about. Mixing progressive, inspiring music in a dazzling display of depth, along with the courage and instinct to try the new, it served as a reminder that somebody knew what was up, and had the incredible heart and soul to do it in spite of the endless dreck on the airwaves (both land and internet based). This was its last show, though the creator and host Eve Szokolai will be back with her podcast, which was just awarded “Best in Chicago” by the Reader.

This really made my day. To be on a playlist, preceded by Ornette Coleman and followed by Morricone, is a validation that what I am doing is in the right spot. Follow Your Heart. Thanks Eve.

A New Definition of the Ideal


In Derick Bailey’s brilliant book “Improvisation“, there’s an interview with one of my favorite musicians, Evan Parker. They are discussing composition vs improvisation, and at the end Evan says:

‘My ideal music is played by groups of musicians who choose one another’s company, and who improvise freely in relation to the precise emotional, acoustic, psychological and other less tangible atmospheric conditions in effect at the time the music is played.’ 

After a session with new co-conspirators last weekend, that struck me as the way to go about it.

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I was thinkin’  ’bout the past…

A friend of mine posted about playing a gig in Vancouver on this day in 1980, and it jarred me into remembering being in a Silver Eagle tour bus with a band I started, cruising to Seattle, right past Mt St Helena. There it is, what is it? I was oblivious.



Back At It


I have been debating whether or not to resume posting/blogging for a long time. Facebook had taken over as my way to communicate, and for most people that works fine. And most of the time for me too.

But when I want to dig in a bit deeper, or link to music I write and care about, I need to have more space.  I can’t take the Google ads on FB either, nor the people who believe in fairy tales, and not the good ones either.  I won’t be leaving FB, but I really have missed writing and posting music and not getting entangled with the day to day of Zuch world.

Therefore, a fresh start. I started a long time ago (at least in internet time, i.e. ten years). A lot of my posts from then are naive, especially getting caught up in the Big Lie of Obama. Now we are caught up again in the charade of who gets selected to run this downtrodden nation. I have been for Sanders, and will follow to the Grand Selection in Philly. But I do not support the neoliberal giant squid that has become the Democratic party since 1980. And I will not vote for Clinton to continue the status quo that has destroyed lives and put serious doubt on the future. Trump either.

(Just to mention, previous posts and comments from the Days of Yore have been safely sealed in an air tight vault and lowered to the bottom of Lake Michigan. I still have them, and reserve the right to drag them to the surface, but for now we will let them rest in peace. Having said that, there’s a lot of good stuff on Hillary running in 2008 and why you shouldn’t vote for her. Some things don’t change.)

Here we go again then sports fans, onwards and downwards.