Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thollem, Obama and all that outside Cherokee jazz!

Touched down for a hot minute today with some of my favorite people on this good green earth, Brett Lars Underwood, John Eiler and Thollem McDonas (and friends), all sprawled in the sun on Brett's backporch, drinking absurdly delicious Chimay and plotting a move to Eiler's for wild salmon off the grill.

Thollem is in town with a double bassist (Joel Peterson) and saxophonist (Skeeter Shelton) from Detroit. They play as a trio Friday night at the Tap Room (8 p.m. start) in a split bill with K. Curtis Lyle, Zimbabwe Nkenya and David A.N. Jackson opening. Booked by Brett. See why you can get people to tip him for a beer he didn't pour them in St. Louis while he is running with the Lindys in Madrid?

Getting a grasp of Thollem in St. Louis - in full knowledge I'd get to see him play amid a bill with enough talent and even genius to last you for ages in a couple of days - put me in mind to track down an update Brett sent around on 11-11-08 (nice numbers) that should be in the public domain with hyperlinks.

This is Thollem on Thollem. Not bragging, just accounting for himself.

Since the beginning of this year (2008) I have been back and forth to Europe four times, recorded several new albums and released several new albums.

A little more than a month ago I gave a concert on the only piano Claude Debussy owned the last 14 years of his life. This piano is housed in Musee Labenche in Brive-La-Gaillarde, France. The piano was found by the director of the museum (Claire Moser) in an antique shop. She did some research on the piano and found it had belonged to one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.

When Debussy died in 1918 the piano was adopted by his step-son, then by the step-son's daughter, and then by the family doctor. In WWII the doctor fled the Nazi occupation of Paris and left the piano behind. For 60 years no one knew the significance of the piano.

While on a 6 week tour of Ireland, France, and Switzerland earlier this year, I was invited to compose and perform on this piano and make the first ever recording of it. In turn I invited Stefano Scodanibbio to join me to play comprovisations of mine that I wrote specifically for the occasion as a 21st century homage to Debussy.

Some of my music has recently been used for short films.

One by Tuia Cherici who is also making a documentary of the Debussy project that will include interviews with me, Stefano, Claire Moser, Joan Jeanrenaud from Kronos
Quartet, and the american composer Terry Riley. Tuia set my music to one of her films (this is not part of the Debussy documentary).

NY filmmaker Martha Colburn has been using my music of late. I joined her in NY at the grand opening of the NY Museum of Art and Design a couple of weeks ago for a night of her films.

I have also been working with a dancer named Germaul Barnes. We call our performance "Bitahkiz Ayeli," which means "Between Between" in Navajo and Cherokee languages, respectively (Germaul is part Navajo, and I am part Cherokee[*]). We had a performance at Teatro do Campo Alegre in Porto, Portugal last June.

I had a mini-tour of Northern Italy with Waristerror Terroriswar to promote our first album The Brutal Reality Of Modern Brutality. We also recorded a second album in the midst of this tour. This album will be dedicated to Marcella Sali Grace Eiler, who was recently murdered in Mexico while working on justice issues. A remarkably inspired/inspiring young woman. She touched MANY people in her short life! I had a profound experience staying at her families house in St. Louis last week.

New Thollem projects, as of then:

1. A duo piano live concert with Nicola Guazzaloca in Bologna, Italy. Will be released on AmariniRecords early next year.

2. A second Waristerror Terroriswar album in Nipozzano, Italy.

3. A concert on Debussy's piano with Stefano Scodanibbio in Brive, France.

4. A duo album with saxophonist Rent Romus in San Francisco, CA.

Released in 2008 or coming:

1. Somuchheaven Somuchhell, a solo piano album of compositions (Saravah, France).

2. Intuition, Science, and Sex, a duo album with Arrington deDionyso on Bass Clarinet along with Indian drone machines (EdgetoneRecords, SF).

3. The Brutal Reality Of Modern Brutality, the first Waristerror Terroriswar
album (EdgetoneRecords, SF).

4. Prismatic Season with Bloom Project (EdgetoneRecords, SF)

5. A trio album with Enzo Franchini, and Valerio Cosi (PorterRecords, FL).

It seems fitting to this dude here that Thollem ends this missive with: "Finally, congratulations to Barack Hussein Obama and the millions of people for thousands of years that have worked for justice and equality in this world ..."

Why fitting?

Because, of all people on Earth, Thollem McDonas is the one who was crossing Delmar Boulevard with me when the U.S. presidential election was called for Barack Obama and the SEIU activists came BUSTING out of Pi!

We were precisely in the middle of this North/South, Black/White boundary road when the call was made. You can't make this stuff up! Well, you can, but if I did it wouldn't be quite so obvious ... but that is how it happened.


The sketch of Thollem, signed by Thollem, is mine, from earlier on election night, when we were watching the election returns at the Eiler home and Thollem was urging me to stop gnawing on my fist and get out of the house, go!


[*] I note in this message for the first time that Thollem is "part Cherokee". The same is true of me, according to the geneology completed by my mother, who grew up with a very Indian father I never met. I lay low on this, however, having been mainstreamed all my life and certainly having suffered no discrimination by race for my Indian blood. But it makes sense regarding Thollem and Obama and all that outside jazz!

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