If you’ve (miraculously) landed here, I guess you might be interested to know why I ended up making the type of music I do, and what tools I use. The path has been anything but linear, the tools ever-changing, hence the title of this, my first blog entry
Influences and Impressions:
BEAUTY – 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.
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, but the bustling energy, the waves of sound coming from the streets spoke to me. I hear that sound still.
CHOICES – the piano, violin, a baritone horn (brought home from school but rejected by my parents) and finally, a flute. Piano and violin lessons came and went, but flute stuck.
DISCIPLINE – Flute lessons and seemingly endless practice.
CHARM – 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 in the Chamber Music Society. On occasion I would be invited to play along with the adults.
ATMOSPHERE – Classical music playing constantly in our house, from Gregorian Chant to Schoenberg. The only crack in that wall was programs like “Hit Parade” on the TV, with popular music of the 50’s – light fare – “Shrimp Boats Is a Coming” still runs through my head on occasion. Even my parents enjoyed the lighter fare, but no rock ‘n roll, no jazz. no non-western music. Wait… we also listened to The Modern Jazz Quartet, The Swingle Singers, Los Indios Trabajaras, Les Compagnons de la Chanson. In the long run, my parents were able to appreciate Hendrix and Coltrane.
LIGHTNING STRIKES! – In college, my roommate played Ornette Coleman for me. The floodgates opened. Over time I was introduced to Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Mies Davis, Eric Dolphy, Lightnin’ Hopkins, DooWop, The Beatles, The Supremes (and Phil Spector’s “wall of sound”), The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Albert Ayler, Cream. The list goes on and on, and is still growing.
REALLY REALLY POWERFUL LIGHTNING STRIKES! – 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 started to wonder if there might be another path for me. The New Wave of jazz, avant garde jazz, free jazz – call it what you want – as I heard more and more of it, it swept me off my feet. I wanted to play like that.
FRUSTRATION – My flute no longer cut it. Playing classical music no longer fulfilled my needs, but 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. The freedom to explore new sounds was worth the pain of knowing I could never be a true jazz musician.
DREAMING – That freedom to explore 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.
>>>The next entry, “The Detour, Part One – The Things I Bought“, is a list of all the instruments and electronic devices I bought trying for BIGGER SOUND.<<<