March 2012 – Pianists, Pianists, Pianists!

Spring is coming, about to swing the corner…

Greetings from rainy but warm Amsterdam, on this early day in March 2012 to tell you about the March happenings. I’m on the road, not playing in NYC until the end of April with the Fay Victor Ensemble after a sorta lengthy hiatus. I was off playing side woman for most of last year, a new role for me but one that I’ve been cherishing since I’ve learned oodles working with the likes of Anthony Braxton, William Parker and Dutch reedist Ab Baars.

Something special about this month too for, as it turns out, I’ll be collaborating primarily with pianists. All original and incredible musicians, in different configurations. A new development for me because I’ve been more attracted to guitar with so much music I do. For many years, I eschewed pianists, preferring the open-voiced sound of guitar and especially of the guitarists I’m drawn too. Yet, idiosyncratic pianists such as Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols are arguably my favorite jazz musicians.

So starting with Misha Mengelberg, that most economical of pianists, a person on the Monk/Nichols trajectory, it makes perfect sense that I’d be a fan of his. I’m a fan and perennial student and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to not only play with Misha but that I have even gotten to know him.

I met Misha years ago when I still lived in the Netherlands, after we spoke on the phone when I was busy with looking for Nichol’s Music back in 2000, as I wanted to record “House Party Starting” (which I did with guitar no less…) and it was suggested that I call Misha about it. I was nervous when I phoned, we hadn’t met in person although I’d heard and been floored by the ICP (Instant Composers Pool), that conversation was the entree. I was so ‘professional’ when I called his home, all my questions laid out with the explanations at the ready. He dismantled that idea from the start of the conversation, me realizing that this conversation will go the way Misha wants it to go. So I better stay open and just listen, as hard as that was to do at the time. At the end of the conversation, I asked him if I could send him a copy of the record when it was done and when I did and followed up, Misha’s response to the record was “it reminded me of nothing”, which if you know Misha is about the best compliment you could get. I didn’t know then it was a compliment yet the more I grew to know Misha the more I would see it as such. Since then, we’ve done little projects/performances. I joined him the last night of his opening curation of the Stone in 2005 – where we performed the first time. Later that year, we played at the Bimhuis, him in a quintet I put together. And then for a series of concerts called the FreeSong Suite, in quartet with bassist Ernst Glerum and trombonist Wolter Weirbos, in which we began deconstructing pieces of Nichols, Monk, Ellington and my originals with free improvisation in the mix. These were wonderful, open concerts that lead up to Misha asking me to join his legendary ICP for a small European tour in 2010, I also joined them for an evening on their US tour in 2011, part of a the three day run at Ars Nova Workshop in Philadelphia where I was invited to join them for one night. So now, performing DUO with Misha is for me, a dream come true and we two are not sure where we’ll start or end in the free improv foray but that’s the beauty and the magic… We’ll play on a triple bill on March 7th at the Bimhuis that includes a solo set of Roscoe Mitchell right after ours, closing out the evening with Longrun Development of the Universe with Simon Nabatov.

Then I head to the Austrian Alps to play my first European festival with ReDDeer, a collective free improv trio of Austrian pianist Elizabeth Harnik and UK double bassist, Dominic Lash. We all met as Fellows in 2010 at the OMI International Musicians’ Residency and hit it off! Last October, the trio premiered at Korzo in NYC and many thanks to Elizabeth for her help with getting us on the wonderful festival of improvised music, ArtActs, held high in the Austrian Alps. What a line-up for the festival as well, check out all the serious people on the festival here.

Then I head to Berlin, Germany to develop a project with German pianist Achim Kaufmann of which I’ll say more of after we’ve worked it out. ))) We’ll play a house concert with Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm in Berlin before I head to Muenster to collaborate with drummer Ben Bonniger and Alexander Morsey playing tuba and bass at the Museum for the Lackkunst.

then back to Amsterdam and then home…

Please keep up with all the dates on the FV website and if you’re on FB or twitter, look for me and let’s connect. I love taking and sending pics from the road, and keeping everybody informed, I’d hate to leave you out if you want to know what’s happening.

In other news, I just completed a workshop for Creative Options for jazz inspired vocalists in Amsterdam. The venue I rented double booked us and just when I thought I may have to cancel, one of the participants offered the use of her Mom’s home if it were available and it was! The entire group went there and it was such a special workshop, so spiritual in what we could express with each other. I think the situation at the beginning immediately bonded us and when the course actually started we were already friends. A very special moment.

Makes me warm and fuzzy. Just in time for spring.

Thanks so much for reading…

Fay