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3x5 background notes

In the shower, or falling asleep, or making dinner, or any place where I suddenly come upon a succinct way of saying something (either in words or music), I jot it down on a 3x5 index card (see Touchstones 1 and 4).

Here are a few (unedited) 3x5s that came to me during the making of Maarifa Street:



Before the 2002 Montreal Jazz Festival concert
from which some of the Maarifa Street music
came, we ate at a "fusion cuisine" restaurant
called Kiwi. Something like watermelon and tomato
salad was on the menu and it occurred to me that this
type of dish—surprise combinations of familiar
elements—was not a bad metaphor for the sort of
music that we were doing (especially the track called
'Maarifa Street'). But while fusion cuisine
seems open ended with possible combinations,
the use of "fusion" to describe music has become
a dirty word, narrowly defined to mean jazz merged
with rock elements (a style which soon became cliché).

So imagine a music which is more like fusion cuisine—

with a much bigger menu of choices.


With Maarifa Street:
I'm trying to make something
which will be both
"familiar" and "strange."
The unsubtle mind, fed on
prefab, pre-labeled "product"
will probably not be able to see beyond
the "familiar."


Yes, "avoidance" is certainly
a feature of personal style:
what you choose NOT to do...
but a time comes when
avoidance of avoidance
is a good thing to try out.

P.S. to above: How does this relate to Maarifa
? I'm thinking of my previous avoidance
of the too-often-used texture of an Arabic
voice soaring above some funk/disco beat and
how Dhafer's passionate authenticity blew away
that connection for me. After all, THAT soaring
Arabic voice has not been heard over THIS texture


(with a different verse of Rumi on each)
The Islamic world needs to go thru
a hippie-like transformation via
appeal to the young spirit.


The difference between
a "joke"—
pre-prepared, armed with a punch line
and "humor"—
the art of spinning something out of present circumstances
is like the difference between
"classical" and
"improvised" music.
The experience is quite different.


Some of us have discovered a ceiling
on tolerance for the kind of mental
world that seems to be created by the
pursuit of fame in the EGN (Era of Great Numbers).
Big Ambition (as in "big government"),
detours the more important search for Paradise.
And some have realized that flying low— under
the radar— leaves more space for that search.


When will a really good writer latch on to the subtlety?

"Occasionally someone will allude to
the French being ruled by forms and appearances
while Americans are governed by impulses and desires:
the clash is between freedom and cultivation..."

(A.O. Scott NYT 8aug03 re: "le Divorce")

The Milan concert (among others)
reflects a beautiful example of
the ongoing search for balance
between freedom and cultivation.
I've gone beyond work which takes as its subject
the questioning of the nature of music, of sound, and find myself content to try to create something beautiful
within certain givens.
I have more fun listening to Ravel or Duke Ellington
than LaMonte Young (though to be fair, I've had great
revelations from both).
(And I prefer porn to poetry until I see poetic porn.)


I no longer care about The Commentary:
jazz, new age, has-been, will-be, is-becoming—
whatever—this is simply, "Here's what I've done,
what I was doing then" and "Here's what I'm doing
now." I don't expect more than ten thousand people
in the world to pay the attention that would
allow them to "get it." After all, if those 10k
people all lived in the same village with me, that would
make a helluva parade and a nice party at home
with my friends and family.


Play it
As if "Jazz"
were a melting Dali.


JH catalog:
from unnoticed to "classic"
without having passed through "success."
(paraphrase of George Axelrod re: his Manchurian Candidate.)


Young people:
addicted to music—
like "substance abuse"—
too much of a good thing—
the gourmand over the gourmet.


Good Friday apr03
Hearing Miles play 'My Ship' in the
Gil Evans arrangement at Montreux in 1991
I cried out for you.
Hearing you enmeshed in that shimmering beauty
once again, in the last years of your life
reminds of
Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in Fellini's Intervista
Their old selves, talking and laughing
while their
young selves (in La Dolce Vita) are projected onto them.

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