My projects so far this summer are two pieces for voice, saxophones, and a rhythm section of electric bass, Korg synth, and drumset. Writing drumset parts has become my new favorite thing to do. I used to be intimidated by it and pretty much always resorted to slashes with general indications of style. I still do this sometimes, but I've become braver about notating specifically, and it's a blast. I don't play drums and I'm hesitant to learn more, actually, because I think I may be at the perfect level of ignorance with it right now--I know what kind of sounds I want, but I don't always know what's typical or expected. If mastery of an instrument or especially of a style isn't available, this state of general, untrained ideas is a particularly fertile space to be in.
My latest piece is in a post-jazz style, in the vein of Polar Bear and some other groups/artists who I love. The "post-"ness in my case I guess derives from the use of non-jazz-styled singing, the fact that it's mostly notated out, a slightly more involved formal map, a coloristic approach more indebted to concert styles. And such.
But I must admit I'm a bit fed up with "post-". I don't know if I can be post-classical, post-rock, post-folk, and post-jazz, as my tastes and propensities in those areas tend to run. Pretty soon I'm going to be post-music entirely, which would certainly be a boon to my shuffleboard prowess, but would also invalidate my sleek new website.
What is all this "post-" business about? I think I know. It just means "new." Anything someone calls post-jazz is just new jazz. The same with the rest of those styles up there. I'm even starting to think that postmodernism might just be modernism happening again. No one else seems to have a better explanation.
Yep, friends -- the Cold War ended, and 9/11 is a decade behind us, and we find that no matter what the supposed defining historical event was for us, stuff just keeps on happening. As soon as we think we have things figured out, they wiggle a bit more, and suddenly we need to start appending meaningless prefixes to make our old labels still fit. Or we can allow those labels to flow along with events. Jazz music, classical music, rock music--these things aren't over yet. So how can we be "post-" them?
Maybe it's like that bumper sticker I saw in Austin: "I'm already against the next war."
The new arrangement of Terlingua Meditations is up on my music page, the recording from the Sissy-Eared Mollycoddles' Ghost Towns concert a few weeks back. Many thanks to the awesome players for learning some crazy rhythms and really kicking it on that piece. The whole concert was a great success. A couple other recordings are also up on SEMC's site-- Eric Malmquist's stunning arrangement of The Wind that Shakes the Barley and a clip from Brian Baxter's huge, bold Lulu City. Imagine Charles Ives had he been born in the late 20th century and taken a trip out to the Rocky Mountains with the other members of his rock band.
I was going to post a picture of Lulu City, but I don't think I have one, so instead please enjoy this shot of Brian posing with his favorite Grand County historical figure, Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick.