To say that it's an honor to present this episode would be a grotesque understatement. I have been a fan of JG Thirlwell's work - Foetus, Manorexia, Steroid Maximus, etc- since I was fifteen years old. JG has two new albums coming out this month, "SOAK" and his chamber soundtrack to the film “The Blue Eyes”. For this conversation JG tells me about his early days in Melbourne, his time in London in the late 70s and his move to New York, where he's been blowing minds for the past three decades. JG Thirlwell, HELL YES.
Sam Kulik is one of a kind. There is literally no else like him. He has panache, style and debonair and he answers to no man. He is also a man with whom I have spent many hours shedding and honing a voice as an improviser. For this talk Sam and I go deep, uncovering many mysteries and getting back to the love of music. A good one to be sure.
Steve Lehman is an accomplished saxophonist and composer who has studied with Anthony Braxton, George Lewis and Tristan Murail. In addition to his own bands Fieldwork (with Vijay Iyer & Tyshawn Sorey) and the Steve Lehman Trio & Octet, he has worked with the ensembles ICE and Wet Ink. For this conversation Steve tells me about his upbringing, his time at Columbia and we discuss balancing a life of composition, improvisation, gigging and education.
In the field of free improvisation few musicians are as distinguished or as outspoken as guitarist Joe Morris. Active for over three decades as an improviser, band leader and educator Joe has traveled the world in a constant search to evolve his ideas and further his musicianship. For this conversation Joe takes me through his personal history as we discuss the spirit of improvisation, the role of teachers in the lives of young people and what it means to live honestly. This is a good talk with a heavy dude.
Vicky Chow is a concert pianist of stunning virtuosity and sensitivity. Not yet even 30, she performs regularly with the Bang on a Can All Stars and has premiered music by Steve Reich, Tristan Perich and many others. For this talk we trace how a classical prodigy made her way from the traditional repertoire to the modern.
Matthew Shipp is a pianist of stunning virtuosity and personality. Since his move to New York in 1984 he has made a signifcant impact on the city's improvised and jazz scenes. For this conversation Matt and I get real, very real, as we talk about everything from his time as a nude model for art classes, his tenure with the David S. Ware Quartet, professional wrestling and the challenges of being a creative musician in 2013. This is a lively and raw talk that I am happy to present. Matt is the real thing.
Ted Reichman is an accordianist and composer who lived in New York City from 1994-2006. During his time here he worked with everyone from Anthony Coleman, Elysian Fields, The Claudia Quintet, David Krakauer and many more. It was also during that time that Ted worked closely with John and Melissa Caruso Scott to start Tonic, one the world's most crucial venues for experimental music from 1998-2007. For this talk Ted and I discuss his time with Anthony Braxton, his move to New York, how Tonic came to be, his move to Boston and the current state of affairs for creative people who are trying to function in the world. This is a great and enlightening talk and I feel delighted and honored to share it with you.
Reuben Radding grew up in the Washington DC punk scene, the son of classical musicians. He's lived in New York, on and off, since 1988 and has worked with just about everyone who has come through the city's creative music scene in that time. He's worked as a bass player, recording engineer, photographer and porn letter author. No shit. This is good talk that deals a lot with the ups and downs that go along with decades spent pursuing a creative life.
Christopher Hoffman has been living in New York City since 2002, performing regularly with a wide variety of artists including Henry Threadgill, Christina Courtin, Pagoda, Iron & Wine and Tony Malaby, as well as leading his own bands Iosono and Sad Companion. Chris has been involved with almost every CD that I've ever made and is my longest running NYC muscial associate. For this talk Chris and I get real, very real, discussing the past decade+ of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of making music in New York City. This is a seriously good talk and one that I am really proud to present.
Mary Halvorson is a brilliant and endearing musician who has been making a name for herself, around the world, for the past eleven years. In supporting roles she has worked in the bands of Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot and Matthew Welch and her own projects range from intimate songs for viola and guitar with Jessica Pavone to disjointed and fucked up rock songs with her band People. She has received a tremendous amount of acclaim for her trio and quintet projects and for this episode we trace her steps as a musician, talk about getting trouble in Brooklyn and about her upcoming solo guitar project among many other things.
Chris Speed is a saxophonist and clarinetist who has been a central figure in Brooklyn's creative music scene since the early 90s. In addition to his sideman work with everyone from Tim Berne to Uri Caine and Erik Friedlander, Chris has been leading and co-leading his own projects Pachora, Human Feel, the Clarinets and most recently Endangered Blood. In 2006 Chris started the Skirl label to document the very best of the Brooklyn scene and has since released 22 albums. He's a sweet dude and for this talk we sat down with a couple frosty glasses of Lagunitas IPA and got right into it, discussing his personal history, the music of Chuck Mangione and coming to terms with changing business models in how we release music. As an added bonus, at the end of this episode Chris and I perform a short clarinet duo.
Jon Irabagon is one of the best and most creative saxophonists of his generation. He is a serious jazz musician and he plays the saxophone at a level of musicianship that is all too uncommon. He is also a goofball and it can be really difficult to keep a straight face around him. For this episode Jon and I sat down with a bottle of Bulleit and got down to it, discussing his personal history and sharing stories of humiliation and hilarity. A good one...
As much as one can be called the real thing, Chris Schlarb is the real thing. A beautiful cat, Chris is a life-long resident of Long Beach, California and continues to live and make music there with his wife and two amazing children. Over Memorial Day weekend 2013, Chris and I drove around Long Beach, looking at notable places from his childhood and getting jacked on coffee, discussing and disagreeing over pop music all the while. I am really happy with how this talk turned out.
Born and raised in New York City and educated at the New England Conservatory and Yale, composer/pianist Anthony Coleman has been an essential figure in the Downtown Scene since 1979, contributing some of the most radical and thought-provoking music of the last several decades. A tireless scholar, Anthony is just as comfortable exploring in detail the nuances of swing and be-bop as he is 20th and 21st contemporary composition, as well as cinema, philosophy and visual art. Since the 80s Anthony has released over fifteen CDs of his own music as well as contributing to the essential works of John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Glenn Branca and Roy Nathanson.
Anthony and his work have had a huge impact and influence on me and I couldn't be happier to present this conversation that covers, among other things, much of his personal history, listening for sociology in music, Radical Jewish Culture and coming to terms with the highs and lows that come with a life devoted to art.
Brian Labycz is a Chicago native. He began playing the viola as a child, which led him on a path that has taken him from the city's hardcore clubs to koto studies in Japan, back to Chicago where he has been developing his own unique voice in the world of electronic music and modular synthesis. While I was in Chicago this past March, over a couple mugs of Cafe Bustelo, Brian and I sat down at his house to discuss his personal history, his label, Peira and sustainability in musical communities. A good talk.
The first episode in my Chicago Series is a very personal conversation with clarinet maestro James Falzone. James and I spent the day driving around the Chicago area, playing music, talking life and eating tacos. With the conversation revolving around music, clarinet, leading a holisitic life and cooking with cast iron skillets, it was a meaningul day and a conversation that I am proud to present.
Harris Eisenstadt is a smooth man. He comes from the great north and leads a multi-faceted career as a composer, drummer, band-leader, educator and improviser. He's a gourmand, a husband & father and he's also one of my best friends. Harris stopped by on a brisk spring morning for some talk about his personal history, creativity, frustrations and dreams. It's a really good talk with a dude for whom I've got nothing but love and respect.
Toby Driver is truly one of a kind. Composer, multi-instrumentalist, gourmand, advice columnist, beer connoisseur, visual artist, new age music enthusiast, Toby has been around the world many times with his own long-running band, Kayo Dot, as well as a member of the legendary Secret Chiefs 3. His music is dark, intensely beautiful, gut-wrenching and always as articulate in presentation as Toby is in conversation.
For the first episode of the 5049 Podcast, Toby stopped by on a brisk Saturday evening in March for a vegetarian meal prepared by the Cho and a couple of bottles of Ruthless Rye to discuss music, creativity, practicing acceptance and working to remain open as a musician. I love this guy and couldn't be happier to break the cherry on this podcast with Toby.