These fools are imposters. Every pastor in every megachurch should be denouncing the fools. I am forever grateful to the people we have met that put in the work to invite us to their communities. We are all time-short, illusory or not, living in the tech work-tainment world, and are offered countless distractions that keep us from doing thing s like going to concerts of new music. It is increasingly hard to engage people in the unpredictable. We are experts quickly. It takes people with real initiative and fire, crazy people, to make live creative music work.
It can, and does, and did across 6 countries in towns from Paris to the Slovenian countryside. But it takes heroes relative I know. Sometimes the people that make these shows go are called promoters, but really these are community organizers. People who have a vision and work to realize it, often times their only reward the joy in sharing and perhaps their personal enjoyment of the artistic expression that takes place.
I believe in this work and what we do together now more than ever. The quality of the relationships we have created with people across the world by way of music, humor, empathy is all hope at a time when hope is thin. We do not have to allow our art, our relationships, our hopes to be dictated by a mass market conformist mentality. We are all far better, wiser, more compassionate. It only takes vision, belief, and work. As an artist, I am constantly reminded on these tours that approval, as fine as it may feel, is not the end. As a listener, I am reminded I have to stay engaged, curious, and pro-active.
The reward is inspiration. The way forward is resisting the homogenized thought, art, market, and concept by offering committed alternatives. Im Todd. Soy Todd, here with a bunch of friends in Mexico. I feel fortunate to be a resident of Mexico. Me siento afortunado ser residente de Mexico. This country where I spend much of my time is a beautiful place of colorful personality, people, and culture, though not without some problems, most of them tied to greed and a corrupt politic, much like the country I am from. The USA elected a bad bad guy, not unlike the guy here in Mexico.
The USA, a place that gave me many opportunities for which I am grateful, was seen, perhaps not universally, as the example of reason and innovation. That is changing. We cannot let bluster and ego from marginally elected officials divide us as people. The Mexican people, and the norteamericanos I know get along, love, have families, create business and art together. We make use of each other's talents and cultures to create something better for both of us. It is not always easy but we are committed to decency. Don't let these assholes tell us we are incapable of progress, compassion, and work together.
We are better than both of our presidents. We are the people that actually do the living, the creating, and the compromise. A trabajar. I watched on the New York Times site, reception coming in and out, as their dial graphic turned from 85 percent blue probability to 95 percent on the end over the course of a couple of hours. I was very sad and like many very shocked, not because I was adamantly "with her", but because I was "against him", of course in retrospect many of us see the problem i n this. As the circus of tweets and brash bravado and lack of decency continue, I continue to be disappointed and embarrassed, but what happened has encouraged me to consider a lot of what I think I know as our truths, decencies, and motives as an individual and as global society, and my part in it all.
How can I be of use? Maybe I can, or maybe I must, embrace this time as all of ours to be be wide eyed in creating the future we want to live, to be empowered and emboldened by the threat of the soulless and transcend the tired discourse and entertainment politic with real, dedicated work of vision and empathy. Im going to have to work harder at communicating honestly, being the type of person I believe in and can love, and defending the dignity of others. Certainty is over for a while and at points this might be good. People we are smart, but we've lost our art.
We have created an often disfunctional society in its values, often without looking, with the most evident symptom being the type of people we reward with our highest offices, business and finance law, and commercial arts. It's not just them, the big and mighty culpable, it is me and all of us in how I define success and progress and what we look for in what we communicate.
The good news is that pretty much all of us know this now. The illusions are growing thin even as the deluded cling harder to old ideas. We recognize that our global society is, in ways, destructive and non-functional, in others not, as I am not a fatalist. How we react to this realization is going to be our story. Can we take responsibility in creating the answers? It is very confusing to know what to do, but I feel confident that it comes in honest interaction amongst ourselves, and the quieting of our "consume man and object" animal. I don't know what your job is now but I know with clarity that mine has to be to create.
To act on all things I think have to be better. To dream ruthlessly and wild in wonder. To not allow success to be defined by greed. To respect, create together, create empathy with action and real work together. Music is the way I know how to dream, create, overcome, be absurd, be hopeful. It is a constant personal savior and I see it work for and with others. Im grateful to have the opportunity to do this with people from all over the world that look all kinds of ways both in and out.
This next year Im going to be working. My apartment in Mexico City is on Rumania street. The whole city is avant orchestra, sound of surreal, blood wild. It is indeed an experiment and not meant for late night listening nor any traditional kind of dancing. You gotta know Tronzo. Slide master, artist all over the guitar, percussive hero. I once hung in his living room and filmed him playing solo.
Ribot has his feet in the grave and half a leg in the coffin at all times, playing beautiful solo classically inspired pieces or speaking his piece on the evils of the corporate internet over post-punk bite. He writes guitar tunes that are as much funk, blues, psych as arena rock, always just far enough away from the obvious. Its acoustic music as much Motown in feel as it is Appalachia.
There is beauty but also grit, and humor. He plays lyrical and its all melody. Americana without the false lenses of nostalgia, just the real shit. Ive seen him with Dylan and Levon Helm. We have allowed the music to guide us. Thats what has gotten us to places from Managua to Berlin between genres and markets and all the other stuff that music, when left alone, doesn't pay attention to. We love the process over a sense of achievement.
List of Spanish television series
Our reward is the act of creating, whether it is a song or a community or a relationship. This record is a document of that p rocess, the one I've been married to since I fell in love with song and sound when I was a kid and the process we've committed to with A Love Electric because none of the 3 of us have the option not to. We need to make music.
There is hope in it. The streets are polluted with trash, alcoholics and addicts wander. People laugh and hang out and serve food from their garages. Its the worst and the best of us in a few blocks. Triumph is everywhere, as is resignation. There is no in between. No in between. I sang a couple of my songs in the garage of a friend who runs an anti-violence organization along with his wife and two kids. They tell me stories of their business, love for their kids, their schools, the music they love, but also of murder and thieves.
Work and laughter are heroic given the circumstance. Resignation is understandable and makes me question my own conviction for living, and if empathy has a just ending. I'm so very grateful to all the people that have been kind and accepting of me in Mexico. Your country is incredible and there is no place in the world like it and no place I'd rather live, create, learn and share what I love to do with music. Tonight we played in a big theater in Morelos at a jazz festival organized by students.
What they accomplished, the venues, promo, audience, fair pay for musicians is the best we could hope for as musicians, and our way forward. If the re's no festival, we make one, no venue, we build one, no market, we create one. Playing to this amount of people in venues like this playing the music I, now we, want to and need to is something that couldn't happen where I am from. I think it's not about better or worse or competition, it's about the personality of the culture here.
Culture, Conflict and Coexistence Studies in Honour of Angus MacKay
What I was looking for I found in Mexico, and something in what I do is good for some people here. If I can be in a place where what I love and work at is useful not just for me, but for others, I'm realizing there really isn't anything left to want. Here in Mexico, more than anywhere else in the world where I play, when we show up and lay out all we have in its human, imperfect, uncalculated state, people are there to embrace us. Thank you thank you to all who support our art, the arts, the promise of art, it's inquisitive and empathetic nature.
It saves people. Saved me from the worst. I am here to declare my own comfort. Does its declaration imply its existence is not? Perhaps only the years will tell. I started playing music because I had to. In 7th grade I wrote a song in English class called "Need to Fly". Thats the first one I remember anyhow. It just happened. After a while, I wanted to be good at guitar, but also I wanted to be recognized, celebrated, and maybe for people to call me a genius and a hero like they did of David Byrne, or Kurt Cobain, or the Rza, which is what I was listening to in those days.
Ive come to realize the "shattering" of dreams is not that of failure, or even a valid disappointment, it is the disappearance of illusion. The illusion is that I we need to be loved or celebrated to validate my our artistic impulse. Surviving doing it is enough. What had me writing songs and making noise when I was a kid is what I have to share. And its not just about me, its about all of us needing to create something that is ours, that turns into everyone's, whether its heard or danced or cried to or not, its all the same song, its everyone's and it sings itself if we let it.
This might not bode well for the mass acceptance of our band or its functioning within an already determined market looking at you "world music" scene , but I am feeling good about it. The shows on this A Love Electric tour, up Central America and Mexico, sometimes to 5 kids in a music school, hundreds of hippies in a beach town, or at festivals and jazz clubs have me back grounded in the reality that music is not what is on the television. We are being overcome by our telephones.
Below is a photo of couple guys our for some coffee together in Chiapas. They haven't talked in the 30 minutes I have been here. I don't claim innocence on telephone addiction, but this eating with one hand while checking the phone - thumb scrolling - with the other is really remarkable. We gave a clinic this morning to young music students here in Chiapas. I wish I could start every day that way. It wakes the altruist and provides perspective, and context, to what I am working on, and what I believe is important. Most of what I do, honestly, is by impulse, but sharing ideas and experience with these kids, I'm forced to reflect on what I am doing, why, and where I might be useful.
This tour has been really special thus far. We have performed in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and now out for a run of dates in Mexico, equal parts concerts and work with communities. Every country is really distinct.
Medieval Spain | SpringerLink
People have been good to us. If you think Mexico is impuntual, visit Nicaragua. People might show up the next day, true story. Not a dig, just reality, they will be the first to tell you this. She is back now, No, just passing by, going to the bathroom Her beauty boots are untied and slapping the floor in dance Deep brown scarf around her neck She really trusts me, this is taking a bit Looking for somewhere to charge her phone, the walls, corners, beside the ice cream cooler where they sell waters and sandwiches.
I took the a. I was carrying two acoustic guitars in a garbage bag, a backpack full of music books and records, and this feeling that I have no idea what I am doing, ever. I question mentioning Ayotzinapa because this is not for grandstanding. It is, I hope, sharing that you can go here and meet people and do things like make music. Divisions are weak are largely illusory. This could be any school, and it has been on other occasions. When you visit schools, and young people, and you grew up where I did and had opportunities I have and you see what others have, and you see these students are you, the same interests, the same crippling doubts, the same wonder they find in song, when you see this and feel it, you fall in love and you keep in touch and you go back, not just to give, but because you get life from it.
I get to Chilpancingo and have only slept a couple hours and am being attacked by ideas. The curse of the idea! This happens often. I find a hotel for about 16 dollars a couple blocks from the bus station. I never see anyone that looks like me. I love the art, dignity in the faces of the people, food. There is a lot of life, hurt, triumph, a lot of song, everywhere. I buy my return bus ticket for Sunday upon arrival.
No, I am not. He asks me if I have any American coins because he collects them. He is very impressed. I give him what I have and he looks very happy. I have been texting with my friends Rodolfo and Rodrigo, the students I came to visit, and had planned to take the collective van to the school. They tell me its not a great time to travel alone between school and Chilpancingo and they will find a car and come for me, lunch on them. They take care of me.
They are in a white car, humble, that they borrowed from someone at school to come get me. I give them the guitars and books and records and I think we are both unsure of how to react but are well aware they are gifting me just as much as I am gifting them. On the short car ride we talk about what they are recording, that one of them is in his student-teacher study right now, traveling to small mountain towns for a week to give classes. He wants to be an elementary school teacher in his home state, but also considers moving to Mexico City to be teach. They talk about making a recording, ask me about mixing and mastering and if I have to do that for my records too.
Yes, I know, its a lot. I tell them I think being a teacher is very noble and I did it for a few years but it was hard. I get the sense that although the two of them are grateful for the guitars and the rest, they are happier yet to know that I keep coming back and we have something to talk about, that they might get to make more music because we are friends.
They drop me off and I meet my friend Sarai in the central plaza of town, still home to protesters, the photographs of some of the missing boys from Ayotzinapa hanging from a tree. It is impossibly sad and I feel angry seeing their photographs and knowing the truth is still purposefully hidden. The dances are amazing and the kids at school are bright and funny.
I look at them and recall my high school moments, watching the way they interact, the uncertainty, the laughter. I have a lot of music I want to write and walk back to the hotel. Thanks to all who support Music Mission for helping us out. The first pieces of this song were written in in the basement of a home in South Minneapolis.
I remember it was about 4 pm in winter, getting dark, and I was in between my usual early evening emotional cross of 22 year old enthusiastic drunk and self unassured anticipated regret. David Horner was my roommate. I had a Roland Fantom keyboard I had inherited that I would use sometimes to sequence ideas. I was singing the line "sex in America, I think I'm losing control" over and over, trying to figure out what chords to put beneath it. I remember thinking all my friends talked about was sex, things about wanting to have sex, wild sex humor, savage sex humor.
And I was frustrated in most senses. David commented later that night he heard me singing and I could tell it made him feel something, maybe that I was yet crazier than he knew, but it had some effect. I never found the right way to play the song in those years, and that was about the time I stopped singing for a while, playing instrumental music, but it stuck around long enough to get to the studio with A Love Electric, where Hernan and Aaron did what they do and made it make sense.
They can interpret my ideas better than I ever could, and that we all want them to be realized, and great, is a gift. They see the intent and trust it is real. That kind of love is not easy to find. When we recorded this, I started singing the line "my mind is chemical" and it felt like something I wanted to sing forever.
I remember Hernan kind of lighting up at the line and coaching me to sing it with more attitude. Our last show here in Mexico City there was a guy in the crowd yelling "sex in America, sex in America". It all came around. Yesterday is now. The finest night was playing in this old church on the east side of Berlin to an audience drinking wine, feet on the chapel pughs. Time's did changed. In a slap of good luck, we had a night off leaving Berlin and turned out Sex Mob , one of my favorite bands in the world, how! We got to see the show and hang with Bernstein, Tony Scherr, and Kenny Wollesen , who I always get fan nervous talking to.
Hope to do this again sometime. All sounded good in check, Medeski had a real organ, and the plaza in San Cristobal de las Casas is beautiful. A couple minutes before the show, as our film was being shown, a big group of protestors in masks arrived to city square and shut the festival down. John had to play a Nord through a not enough watt Fender bass practice amp. People danced anyhow and I took a lot from playing with two of my heroes, watching and feeling how they communicate.
The first tune we played was "Gravy Waltz". I took a the first solo and was really safe, played maybe 2 or 3 choruses and then looked at Medeski to hand it off. He shook his head with a "you're not done" look. He was right. I played a bit longer and realized the challenge I wanted was what I was going to get. The dream was realized and we showed the film the following afternoon in the city plaza. I felt really good about the show we played despite having perhaps the toughest time slot of the festival. A few months back, though time is mostly an unmade bed for ashes memories, we were in Colombia with A Love Electric.
I was always fascinated by Colombia growing up. I did not get to see enough of it this go. We had a couple days in Medellin and a few in Bogota that I spent writing, mostly in my hotel room. The last day we were invited to this house to record something I didn't know about. It ended up being these 3 videos.
We look tire and were but its a good look of where were at. Im playing a little less this month and writing more. Feels right. I think Im learning its creating something, where the blood is, for me. Once its created Im not really excited about reciting it. Fortunately, in this band, its never the same. The students at the workshop, about 30, were very nice and generous, and like anywhere, have ideas and hopes both simple and grand they want to express through music. Maybe that is why I have this odd life of where Im from and where I am that seems to make little sense to anyone but me.
Im following music over common reason. We all began our time together timidly but by the end were joking, hugging, and making plans for the future. This is the impossible romance of connecting through art. Time at the school is colored by the impossible sadness of the tragedy and crime of September when 43 students of the school went missing, some of the parents still wait there for the kids to return.
Throughout the school are photographs of the missing students, flowers, declarations, and notices. But I left feeling hope above all else. There is an almost impossible dignity the kids had in the way they treated me and communicated their thoughts and experiences, the way they listened, and how they spoke. It was not that different of an experience than a recent clinic we gave at Jefferson College in Missouri with A Love Electric, or the same at Univ of Colorado. Young people who connected with music and found hope in it at some point in their life, and want to explore with and by it.
The students invited me back to play a concert and I look forward to doing that. Not for the spectacle nor charity, but because we need each other. All of us. A younger student asked me about my family in the US, if they were worried that I was in Guerrero. I told him yes, probably, like any parents, like any Mother, they would worry. I asked him the same, if his Mom was worried. Part of custom at the school is not to recognize by applause. After about 90 minutes, we finished our time together, mostly joking and talking music, and the students helped me pack up and head back to Chilpancingo.
Its a. Seal is playing on the airport speakers louder than I would expect from the Tulsa airport at a. He sings the tile of the song so many times I go from thinking its not great, to knowing and singing along, to thinking its horribly obvious and overthought if not mathematically calculated marketing, to admiring them for their shamelessness, to again singing.
They've won. I'm here with my friends Hernan and Aaron, also bandmates. We just did about 5 thousand miles in 3 weeks from Seattle through the Pacific Northwest to Colorado, some really out corners of Missouri and ending here in Tulsa. In 12 hours we will be playing songs behind 3 men from the ranches of the Mexican state of Durango in their 80's. They are the keepers of the tradition called the Canto Cardenche. We are creating our own tradition here with this thing that has developed with the band and the community growing up around us.
Its not the Canto Cardenche, but its coming along. Politic season is on in the USA and I am happy to be away, and have no television. I love you up there, but you are nuts. Crazy rich Uncle. I have been, gleefully, making a lot of music. Its what I love to do. I plan to take advantage of every opportunity to make music about any and everything I think I have something to share about. Our band A Love Electric is its own animal now.
I don't mean that in the cliched sense. It truly has its own blood and hunts its own unsuspecting, genre-loving, box headed, prey. Me, Hernan and Aaron just get dragged about by it, like the kids you see at American malls whose parents have them on leashes, but this is pretty. People smile where they wouldn't. I've directed kids from underserved neighborhoods in Mexico Cityto some of the greatest jazz musicians I know in the world now, and its always heavy and rewarding, and real music gets made. There is a spiritual sense to it all, but I am nearly allergic to that word now with its new-agey implications.
We use no incense, we make music. Thats not to say incense is bad, but music is better. Its music for getting people together and making music, as opposed watching and celebrating an image of a human share their character. We do it together. I like that 80's song, or at least it sounds like an 80's song "I Still Believe". Here's a little highlight video.
I wrote the words down quick after a conversation about the weight of being over informed and under informed in the information age and we just played. It is really beautiful to play with Billy on these short runs we have done in Mexico and a bit in the US. We spend a lot of time in vans and planes and all this talking. Billy has always been inspiring to me because he is sincere in his music and with word, a wild but wise creativity out of commitment to good and love, without having to talk about love all the time.
We recorded about 40 minutes of music in 2 long pieces this afternoon at Hernan's studio. No plans with it or for it, just a chance to play. I always wanted to play rock rock music with Billy, and thats kind of what this became. It felt good to record something without feeling like I had to do something in particular with it. Im releasing what we recorded, additional clips, just through the Music Mission site, our philanthropic program to support the creation of new music in underserved areas.
Sign up for 5 bucks and you can download some of our session. If you want to find the songs, go where the trains are. The market situations can be useful for the band and there's good folks, but its also really terrifying and operates separate of the artistic process, the part where I prefer to spend my time but don't always get to. Its part of the process if you want to do your music, finding a way to represe nt yourself in these things, or to labels or promoters. I don't love it. We all just wish someone would discover and promote what we do as something good and get us compensated for it, but thats not what happens without getting out and behind it the way it works in the modern music barely-an-industry.
It takes much more than the music. Hernan and I went and hung a bit today at the music market until I start to shake and go silent, leaving the lifting to my trusted brother, and I escaped to run around all the places in Medellin they tell you not to go to. Im much better than I was, but anxiety in these situations of new people and convincing or even making it easy nice light talk is something Ive always dealt with. Its much of the reason I think I chose to communicate with music since I was a kid. I think we all deal with this, but when it hits hard enough that your presence may be counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve, get out.
I did. I walked around sat under the train station and wrote for a couple hours watching the the man with the open fly shine shoes, the older men drinking liquor from plastic cups, crayon color buses, the block deep bank lines, the shouting for a sale. Music everywhere. So I got new songs and Im ready to play. Maybe Hernan booked us some things. Maybe not and I'll just keep singing to myself. Thats actually not that bad. Everyone was and is welcome. This is "Hold My Machete". I wrote it while in the Mexican state of Guerrero driving the Pacific coast.
You pass through small towns where everyone is carrying a machete in a long leather holster. For miles, the highway is lined with young men barefoot and shirtless chopping the tall grass, big heat, with their machetes. It all feels surreal, but its the real sweat. I was invited to be on the radio a bit ago and a host asked me, "so when did you decide to stop playing jazz?
Im not as concerned about it as I once was. But the entire compartmentalization of sound art, music, into segments to support identity does continue to bother me. I think most musicians who are being honest would agree that what you play decides you more than a conscious decision driven by style or genre. People talk about markets and how you move within the market and these things, and the truth of it is you just have to be sincere with what you do.
Whatever it is you do, and there is an audience for you. Your audience may be smaller than you'd hoped, and it may be in a different part of the world, and it may not afford you homes and cars, but if you are you, and you believe it, it is inspiring, and thats what you should be doing as long as you want to. We are better off talking about how music feels, how it relates to our lives, than market driven identities.
That, after all, is what this is all about, our humanity, thats why we started to celebrating music. Music awoke a part of us we hoped to know better. That said, and the question that bothered me and all, I've been having a really good time exploring music, playing and writing recently. Our band is adventurous and never complacent live and I'm so happy to be part of what we've built together. Here is some music I've been listening to recently. The show was the type of experience I've had with music when we are at our best together. People get on stage and are just as much part of creating as someone who has studied or composed or gotten paid.
All that is lost and we are a community that creates. The people that come sing are often more important than what we might do out of habit as experienced musicians on a stage. They have no licks or tunes or successful habits to rely on. The ONLY thing they can do is emote and express. They don't know if its good or bad and you can see them lose any fear of that once the support of the band hits.
They do know when it feels. You see people overcome. My dream has always been to create a concert experience like you see in some Southern Baptist churches. Joy so heavy there is a pain to it. If you feel like shouting, you can, you should. Thats where I want to live. In the experiment of the human spirit. There is still hope to create something new and sincere. There are a few more planned for the summer. The record and story are available at clouserchant. I wanted to share some photos and a little bit of what John Medeski and I presented at a festival here in Mexico City called Ars Futura.
In duo, we played a suite called "Boy 44" inspired by the life of a young man who was "disappeared" by state police in the state of Guerrero. I cannot process how something like that can happen. Its beyond tragic and into evil and other worlds of thought I know might exist but can't understand how anyone would make them action.
I wanted to do something and music is the only way I know how. So I wrote this suite and sent a bit of the story and context to Medeski and he was happy, as far as I know, to be part of the music. The idea was to not talk about the subject matter before the concert, so as to not create expectations, just to let the music do the speaking. It does that better than words. Mexico is a media controlled state.
Freedom of press is not a reality. There is one newspaper that is seen as left-leannig, La Jornada, where the story was published. Federal police came to the festival to tell organizers "they can't play the song about Ayotzinapa. We played what we planned without pause. Nontheteless, they still won. They invoked fear. Certain media outlets won't publish our piece now or the music we played.
Organizers will think twice about having us. All over someone trying to play music to honor the life of a kid in rural Mexico studying to be a teacher, tragically kidnapped, and presumably murdered, by police.
This is a song called You the Brave written about a year ago, the first for the Boy 44 suite, that is also on the Chant Record. Here it is played live at ArsFutura Festival. His family in the ranching community of Omeapa still search for answers. The world should be a better place.
No one should ever know tragedy this wicked. On these tours, sleeping is done in short segments. Three or four hours on a bus, a couple hours after the show, and so on. A few days ago in southern Argentina, we had our chance at a first full night of sleep in some time. We were given an A frame wood cabin, at the base of a large in mountain in El Bolson, to sleep in. There was a small glass window next to my bed, on the top floor, that looked out over the small city, and allowed the mountain night air to come through.
I wish we could have stayed longer. We had played a concert at a culture space in the city, people of all ages, a really warm and adventurous, inquisitive, forward crowd. I dreamt that I was at a large festival type of concert. There was a big black stage constructed in a green field, and a somewhat sparse crowd. I was invited to play by the band. I was somewhere behind where the soundman sets up at these types of shows, in the middle of the crowd, center.
I realized I had been invited to play and started walking towards the stage. Somehow my guitar and effects were set up. They were far stage right, with the amplifier on wheels. My gear was set a bit back from the band, but there was also a microphone set up nearer the front of the stage. I approached the stage and its not really clear what happened. I was really bad, and knew it, struggling, and then trying to overcompensate.
It was a horrid feeling. I realized I was very drunk. I have been sober for nearly 5 years. I was drunk and trying to hide it but the band knew it, and the crowd knew it. I tried again too hard, walking to the microphone and singing but nothing came out. My mouth missed the microphone. I was embarrassed.
The band started physically moving away from me in the dream to where I was isolated stage right but somehow had more space than all of them. I saw the band leave the stage. I was still there, not really falling over, but not really standing up. I started to walk off the stage but then thought perhaps I could try to make it right, walking back to the microphone and trying to play something more. The band had left at this point. The crowd had left. I looked down and saw grey the metal bars of a security fence.
I was drunk and ashamed and on a big stage and I could not hide it. There was nothing to do. That is the last thing I remember before I woke up, with the feeling something terrible had happened. Shame in awaking. It took me a few minutes to put things together, that this was a dream, it had not happened, that I was not hungover. Memory hangs around just enough to remind you who you could have been.
Thank you to the many people who believed I could better, encouraged me to do so, and have supported me in recovery. I hope I can help others the way you have helped me. Thank you for that. And thank to the almighty art of sound, our dear music. Seated between men on smartphones in the Amsterdam airport, Schiphol.
It was a really good tour through Spain, Germany and on to Prague. They were a few shows we got to somewhere really new with the music. That feeling of connection in discovery is magic. People came out, got things happening to come back. I spent a lot of time writing music on this trip. There's a lot to watch and consider on these runs and if I am connected and can focus, I can make use of it. Most of the writing time was spent on a song suite for the ArsFutura festival in Mexico City.
The suite is for rhodes, effects, guitar and voice, and we present it as a duo with John Medeski.
I'm enjoying more and more the research part of writing when I have a specific concept in mind. So, some music I've been checking out. Its just beuatiful. I am naive in many ways, including knowing much about Mahalia Jackson. But if she is anything like this piece of music suggests, we are old, new, and future lovers.
Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite When music talks about what is important, the human experience at its most essential, of triumph, of possibility, and of disdain for the liar. Thats why I loved music. Music is our tool to realize our possibility, for the better or for the worse. Use it well, like Max here. Writing from the southern coast of Spain. We have a few days off from shows on this Europe Tour and are spending them in an apartment just south of Malaga.
Its been lots of concerts and travel for as long as I can remember, so nice to be in one spot for some days to work on music and get some perspective together. Last week we had a run with 6 musicians from Cuba, Los Hermanos Arango, playing tunes from both our groups, and some new arrangements of tunes off Son of a Hero. Their music is much more Afro than Afro-Cuban. Deep in the Earth music. They all stayed in our apartments in the south of Mexico City and everyone got along, which can make for good music.
He commands the stage and drives the music and does it all with love. The rest of the family admires him greatly. Eugenio Arango plays percussion. I loved standing next to him and playing. Its much closer to Fela Kuti than to Afro-Cuban jazz or salsa. Bata drums, not fusion. Much of my time on stage with them was spent listening, much more than playing. We created something new, truly new I believe, only because we wanted to explore and enjoy the challenge of it, and came out of it all as a wild family. Brave arrangements.
We filmed a bit and had a quick few hours in a studio to get a tune together that Im hoping will help us get things together to record a full record. Hello everyone from Jazzatlan, a little club in the little Mexican town of Cholula, Puebla. There are over churches in Puebla. True story. We're here as a 9 piece incarnation of A Love Electric this time, joined by 6 musicians from deep roots Cuba. Los Hermanos Arango www. We met on a tour last year in Germany, both bands staying in the same house.
I was able to get a tour together that supported the 6 coming to Mexico and its been magic. We all hang out, make music, learn. Its mostly what Ive always wanted to do, get as far away from commercial for sake of commerce music and into the spirit of music when its left to be wild and inquisitive. We're off to Europe next week for a six week run that ends in Buenos Aires. Gonna get the people up and in it! Thats a story for next time.
Just leaving the beautiful Mexican state of Chiapas. We came down here for the Film Festival to debut our short documentary, "Music is My Mother Language", about a trip I took with Billy Martin last February to explore some of the music happening in southern Mexico. We showed the film to the people it was about, free in the city center plaza projected on a big screen. The show was first scheduled to take place in the city plaza as well but the festival was shut down by protests. There has been a dispute here over the city market, marred by corrupt politics, money grabs, and at times violence, and a group of people in the city took to the plaza at night to protest and shut down the Film Festival in hope their voices are heard.
I hope their voices are heard as well. Thats what our film is about, or at least what we set out to do. We were here to connect with people and share their stories, simple, but inspires me greatly. Moving the concert and the film screening was a small inconvenience. These people have real issues much more important than our concert. Mexico is in crisis, acknowledged or not, and people need to be listened to, and actions need to be taken. The politik here is as bad as it gets. The concert with Billy and John was really full, with people outside on the streets listening and the club far past capacity.
I started off a bit nervous, sitting between Medeski and Martin, but after a few tunes was able to get somewhere, and be connected. We played some new arrangements I worked out quickly and a couple of my tunes, a Mago tune, and some standard-ish sort of things. Im sitting on a plane looking down at a piece of Kentucky. The entire world is remarkable, the oft scoffed at to the adored.
I spent a few weeks in New York making the most of our show at Winter Jazzfest working on things for A Love Electric, trying to get us out to new parts of the world, and making some new music. I stayed in Billy Martin's basement again and spent time with some real artist heroes of mine, mostly thanks to my friendship with Billy.
People are remarkable, these cats who commit to what they do despite its waxing and waning market value.
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The names we know and the names we don't, people committed to integrity in their art, or their word, or their business. I met Arto Lindsay a few days ago, he came into the studio I was working at to visit a friend, we talked, and he decided he'd play some guitar on a track I was working on. Arto plays the guitar the way he does, using it as a creator of sound and universe.
I love that. He scrapes and bangs and sometimes plays a single note. We talked for a while, about his home in Brazil, about trying to get paid for gigs, about a free session he was called to do, and about Bob Dylan's phrasing. In Arto, I finally spoke with someone who agrees with me that modern-day Bob Dylan performances, and his vocals, are a magic art.
When you hear Bob Dylan sing live now its Coltrane phrasing to me. He spits out scatttered syllable phrases in urgent bursts, or hangs words around in hidden corners of the beat, or doesn't sing them at all. I love it, its the intellect of the spirit talking. Arto was into talking about that. My friends and heroes, my mother and father, all of us, have this intellect of the spirit when we honor it. Bob Moses has it.
I spent a day improvising with him in his Boston home a few days ago. He's very direct and I appreciate it a ton. He'd say, "alright, no long notes, no bringing it down, I want to go up and keep going, happy. I forget to to do that often. It doesn't have to be playing whatever you feel it is impossible for anyone to relate to. Its that we have to take care to emote what we really might feel at our most vulnerable, and realest, state.
To get there, to the place where you only say the truth, is the challenge. If I am are saying the truth to me, people feel it. I believe that. The journey is finding that truth, and a way to believe it. Its a really magic thing that music is able to do in empowering people, especially young people - it happened for me - and thats the goal of Music Mission, to support and facilitate that magic. Here is our Episode One, working with a school in the mountains of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, check it out and if you can join, come by www.
It has always bothered me when teacher,s or professors, or critics, say "you're not going to play anything that hasn't been played Doesn't mean he did, that much Ive learned in doing interviews ove the past couple years, but sorry Im for people who believe this, Winton or not. New is ALL there is to play if you allow yourself to do it. There's really no reason to repeat whats been done, trying or not. This means you have to try not to, until you develop something that is only your own. For me, the only tradition jazz has is rebelling against whatever was accepted as tradition.
Its a spirit and a social movement, and not just jazz, music. Music is a chance to empower, to express, and to discover. Perhaps that sounds simplistic, optimistic, mystic. Thats music. Honor it, its ahead of us. So, you are going to play whats never been played in ways that have never been played. And thats what music wants you to play. It moves. A couple months ago I took a cheap flight from Mexico City to Torreon in the Mexican state of Coahuila in hopes of connecting with 4 men I'd heard sing on a field recording Aaron Cruz turned me on to.
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The men sang the "Canto Cardenche", a 19th century traditional song, once sung by Mexican field workers in the Hacienda days. The work back then was slave labor, and the people of the ranches would create songs to pass the time, tell stories of their experiences, give advice to their kids, or call out for love. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information.
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