Many thanks for continuing to check out my blog and apologies for my delay in posting. The last two weeks got incredibly busy with rehearsals, meetings and gigs. Add to that an unsympathetic internet service and posting has proved near impossible.
There is much I want to update and add to, especially the Sisyphe post, and will do so at a later date but for now I will post the highlights of the past few days.
Yinzi Gallery is a black box theatre run by Huyin and her husband in the arts district of Chongqing. It is an excellent space and they have a commitment to experimental arts. They invited me to present a concert there with a young local pianist called Zhou Xiaoshan.
We had been incredibly busy with other things and I was a bit concerned about having the energy and time for what was an addition to our existing schedule. The results however were fantastic and it proved to be a significant highlight of my residency.
The ensemble included Zhou Xiaoshen – piano, Kong Wenjing – guzheng, Wu Yan – erhu, Zhao Lan – dizi, Li Yunliang – saxophone and Max on drums. Guess where Max is from? Birmingham! That really was a pleasant surprise. He is in Chongqing playing drums, teaching yoga and exemplifying all the warm and friendly qualities that make up the Brummy personality. A great ambassador for Birmingham.
In our rehearsal we put together a piece with riffs, solos, spoken word and group improvised textures. It lasted about 12 minutes and for the text I decided to use excerpts from Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”. For not entirely artistic reasons I worried about this choice. (read between the lines here). I also don’t want to increase the Sisyphean struggle of anybody else but ultimately I felt it was the right choice and continued.
And…. in a magical way and true to the spirit of Ginsberg the interconnectedness of all things carried us to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night. Huyin named the event “City Variations” which seemed particularly apt. The event itself was held on 8th June, the anniversary of the writing of “Dream Record” where Ginsberg experimented with a syntactic subversion of meaning called parataxis, a technique that would become central in “Howl”.
The musicians opened up and embraced free improvisation..Kong Wenjing said after “I was faced with this challenge and had to decide if I could do it or not, I decided I could.”. Zhou Xiashen sent me a message saying, “Thank you for helping us to play wildly”. Whilst I perhaps enabled I have to say that the musicians played as if they had always played this way, they dazzled. Zhou Xiashen in particular went wild as I recited “Howl” thrashing out clusters and owning the keyboard. As we settled down I swear for a moment he played the Victor Jara tune that Steve Tromans plays at the end of his “Howl” project.
As well as “Howl” we performed an hours set of Irish songs, solo spots and were at the end joined by my very good friend and Chiba player Jialin. A perfect end to a perfect evening. I give my thanks to all Huyin and Yinzi theatre, all the great musicians and Allen Ginsberg.
Apologies if there are errors of any sort in this post. Time is running out and I want to communicate it whilst still here. Will sort out edits later.