Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Echoes of a Friend: Recalling Borah Bergman

Borah Bergman Memorial
Saint Peter's Church
New York, NY

This past April a number of us - musicians, writers, producers, relatives, friends and listeners - gathered together for an evening dedicated to a recently departed friend, Borah Bergman.  So many musicians spent time with Borah - often at his home studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan - playing, talking, listening to Borah talk.  Often these relationships flew under the radar of the so-called scene.  Take a moment to dig amongst creative musicians, and you will find Borah connected with many of us in unforgettable ways.

Unforgettable, too, was his music.  For me, his definitive work was his solo ouevre.  But Borah Bergman knew how to bring out the best in other musicians.  During the years that I worked with Borah, we worked together on setting up duos, concerts and recordings.  I produced a series of evenings at The New Music Cafe during my tenure there, Sunday evenings pairing Borah with Andrew Cyrille, Herb Robertson and Paul Smoker and others; a concert with Perry Robinson and JD Parran; a duo with Warren Smith and more.  At a point, I joined him on stage for a concert at the Knitting Factory with Thomas Chapin and Gerry Hemingway.  

I also introduced Borah to Bill Dixon.  Let's just say that it took a while for this connection to flower.  There is a wonderful recording of the music Dixon made on a FONT concert that needs to be heard someday.

Jason Kao Hwang organized the evening.  I met and then played with Mat Maneri along with Lou Grassi and my long-time colleague Steve Swell.  Hear what we created, and the entire evening's program here, thanks to Robert O'Haire.

I miss Borah Bergman.  I think that I always will.  He was kind to me, generous with his time and knowledge, a real friend. 

Concert images by Scott Friedlander
Memorial poster by Stephen Haynes

Go: Organic Orchestra at ShapeShifter Lab

Adam Rudolph and Go: Organic Orchestra
Spring Concert Residency
ShapeShifter Lab
Brooklyn, NY

Go: Organic Orchestra just completed our annual Spring Concert Residency at a new (for us) venue, ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn.  Having the opportunity to settle into such a warm, welcoming environment with plenty of physical space and amenities for the ensemble and our listeners was a singular experience.  ShapeShifter Lab just celebrated a one-year anniversary, and we hope they will enjoy many more years of presenting the music. 

Speaking of anniversaries, it is worth noting the the New York-based iteration of Go: Organic Orchestra has been in existence since 2006.  As a longtime lover of the large ensemble, I can tell you that having the opportunity to work directly with a composer in the development of new music, not to mention the development of a distinctive approach to improvising orchestra, is rare.  Adam Rudolph has opened a doorway for us to grow and move together.  The work really is quite special.  Hear some of the music here.  

I love the ensemble, particularly the brass section.  Standing alongside my friends Graham Haynes and Peter Zummo has afforded me some deep fellowship, and you can hear this in the music.  A year ago, we went into Bill Laswell's studio for two days of intensive recording.  The fruit of this will see release by this fall.  Meanwhile we plan our first regional tour, no small thing for an orchestra.  We hope to make a stop here in Hartford, a prospect that excites me very much.  I have so many local listeners that I'd like to share the work with!  Stay tuned for details.

Images of Go: Organic Orchestra at ShapeShifter Lab by Hisao Kishimoto

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Pomegranate: Chapter Three

Pomegranate: New Music for Bill Dixon
Concert and Recording Session at Firehouse 12
New Haven, CT

Stephen Haynes/cornet
Joe Morris/guitar
Ben Stapp/tuba
William Parker/contrabass violin
Warren Smith/drums and percussion

In March of this year we brought the music for Pomegranate to Firehouse 12 in New Haven.  This is my favorite place to do this sort of work, and the venue feels like/is home.  I recorded my first (unissued) album, Bugaboo, here and Firehouse 12 was where we conducted the Bill Dixon Recording Residency Project that was documented in Dixon's Tapestries for Small Orchestra on Firehouse 12 Records.  

I am always happy when Nick Lloyd is recording my work.  Nick used one of Bill Dixon's personal microphones to record my voice, a wonderful/thoughtful surprise.  Friday night, we performed two sets of music to a full house.  Both sets were recorded.  The next morning, we recorded more music: trio, quartet and quintet settings.  William brought along his sintir and shakuhachi and we had a marimba in the studio for Warren.  We were fortunate to have Rob Miller join us to create a photographic record of the work.  Over the next few weeks,  we will return to the studio to sequence, mix and master the music for Pomegranate.  

All I can tell you know is that the spirits were in the room when we recorded, particularly during the second set on Friday night.   I look forward to sharing this new work with all of you in the very near future.  Thanks - again and again - to the community of listeners who contributed to this project through our Indiegogo campaign.  This project has changed the way that I think about getting my work documented.

Images of Pomegranate: New Music for Bill Dixon at Firehouse 12 by Rob Miller