BEAUTY – Here’s a view of my mother’s legs – feet on the pedals as she played Chopin. I must have been 4 years old, sitting under the piano – mesmerized. I think I have a photo somewhere….

MAYHEM – Heading for the Jerusalem Airport in an armored bus during the Israeli war for independence, with artillery rounds coming close enough to rock the bus.

SAFETY – in New York City. I was a stranger in a strange land and didn’t speak English, I was lost, but the bustling energy, the waves of sound coming from the streets were a blanket of safety. I hear the sounds still.

Not a photo of my mother’s legs, of course… just my impression of that time in my life.

Armoured Bus During War of Independence

I saw buses like these rolling past our house in Jerusalem in the months before we left. I remember our “exit” bus looked a lot like this.

Around the corner from our apartment in NYC in the late 40’s

Years passed – bathed in music, beguiled by music – cajoled into playing an instrument – and after many detours, devoting my life to music:
These are highlights Along the way:

ATMOSPHERE – Classical music played constantly in our house, from Gregorian Chant to Schoenberg. But also lighter fare thanks to programs like “Hit Parade” on the TV, with popular music of the 50’s…The Swingle Singers, Los Indios Trabajaras, Les Compagnons de la Chanson … “Shrimp Boats Is a Coming” still runs through my head on occasion. Definitely no rock ‘n roll at first, but occasionally jazz. . In the long run, my parents were able to appreciate Hendrix and Coltrane among others.

CHARM – Every week there were chamber music evenings at our house. String Quartets, Piano Trios, Sonatas of all kinds… my father playing cello, my mother at the piano. Friends of my parents would come to play. Touring musicians also graced our house because of my father’s role as president of the local Chamber Music Society. Eventually, I would be invited to play along with the adults.

These are the foam pads from my father’s earphones. And that’s a photo of him. He listened through the earphones constantly, sitting in his armchair in the living room, smoking a cigarette. I guess this is slightly fetishistic – I found the phones in our cellar years after he died, and pulled off the foam pads. They became part of a shrine I made in honor of his influence on me.

All the books in my parent’s library had this bookplate on the inside cover.

INSTRUMENTS – In the order in which they appeared in my life:
A piano – a no go
a violin – really a no go and finally….
a flute- I fell in love….

DISCIPLINE – Piano and violin lessons came and went, but the flute stuck. Then came endless hours of practice.

A MAGICAL GIFT – My parents bought me a Haynes Flute as a reward for practicing when I wanted to be playing outdoors with my friends.

Here’s me in high school preparing for a concert at the B# music club.

I got my Haynes the same year that Jean Paul Rampal had one custom built for himself. 1958. His was solid gold though!

LIGHTNING STRIKES! – In college, my roommate played “Cannonball & Coltrane” for me. The floodgates opened. I listened obsessively to the great jazz players of the 50’s and early 60’s.

REALLY POWERFUL LIGHTNING STRIKES! – Over time I was introduced to Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis. Then a friend sat me down to listen to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. It changed the direction of my life. I was in medical school, but the pull to leave and play music instead grew stronger and eventually won the day . The New Wave of jazz players then became the focus of my listening and striving. The more I heard, the more I wanted to play like them…Coltrane… Eric Dolphy… Albert Ayler… Archie Shepp… Pharoah Sanders…

FRUSTRATION – My flute no longer cut it. Playing classical music no longer fulfilled my needs. An alto sax that I bought in college led to a tenor sax. I pretended to be part of the new wave of jazz.

I imitated, but, looking back, I never came close to innovating. Learning that I could never be a true jazz musician, I did go through a period of total devastation.
During that time I began to listen to electronic music made with instruments like this:

I tried.

And I tried.

And I tried.

DREAMING – These new electronic sounds had me dreaming of an instrument that could I play polyphonically – one that would allow for volleys of echo, arpeggios raining down, choirs drenched in reverb, battering rhythms, stutters, distortions. I wanted controlled and beautiful cacophony and started on a quest to get that sound.

MY DREAM WOMAN – Just in time, I met her…. Menna … the love of my life. End of period of devastation!

How could I resist? Menna’s opening line to me was “That’s a strange name for a man with no wings.

Trystan and Adrian. The other two loves of my life.

I can’t begin to describe how these three angels completed my life.

 

The next blog entry, “The Detour, Part One – The Things I Bought”, is a list of all the instruments and electronic devices I bought over the years – trying for “That Sound”.