This is an encapsulation. Of the thoughts and regards 3 long-time friends have for each other and their relationships with each other. What's funny/unique/different about this specific rendering is it's the first time we 3 have ever expressed our collective thoughts/feelings musically. We've known each other for over 20 years, but we've never played together as a musical unit. So this is both a "first-time" and a "reunion/regathering."
That this happened during a time when many people were realizing just how fragile their friendships are is probably not entirely accidental. But, interestingly, while dire circumstances typically produce anxiety-charged art, in this case they produced a uniquely celebratory and earth-laden art. Something affirmatively grounded in its moment and at the same time ecstatic that this opportunity presented itself.
I feel supremely fortunate to know Tony and Jed and to have maintained friendships with both of them. Whether because of circumstance or proclivity, I've never been terribly adept at long-term friendships. And as I've gotten older, I've come to cherish these unique relationships even more. Knowing that I can call them and they'll respond no matter what is one of my life's great blessings.
I feel even more fortunate that an opportunity to musically express my happiness didn't arrive until decades after making friends with both these men. It's as if my thoughts/feelings for/about them were given an extended period of maturation. So this art object partakes of both the surprise of a first-time meeting as well as the depth of feeling that only comes with decades of life experience and shared affinities. I doubt I'll ever get to experience such a uniquely fortuitous encounter again.
I have no idea how much of this is audible in the sounds you're hearing, but I do know that I've never made an album quite like this. And for someone who seems to make a very different album every time they record, that's saying something. Like I've mentioned, there's a peculiar kind of grounded ecstasy in this document. And I will treasure my great good fortune in collaborating in its creation for the rest of my life.
Thank you Tony. Thank you Jed. And thank you whoever you are for listening. It all helps.
The 3 of you have never played together as a group before. What inspired you to play together as a trio?
Tony Falco: For the last 20 or so years Josh and Jed have been two of my most frequent and steadfast collaborators. In duo and group settings I have always felt comfortable playing with them. More importantly, I consider both of them to be close friends whose lives I care deeply about and whose thoughts and opinions on all manner of things I value. I want to make music with these people. Period. It doesn't matter so much to me what the result will be. I know it will be great.
Jed Wilson: The funny thing is it doesn't feel like we haven't played together before; it makes me think that we've already been part of some unconscious conversation. For my part, I was compelled by the idea of working with Josh and Tony because I have always sensed that we have an affinity, especially on the question of process. I admire Tony and Josh each for their passion for spontaneous discovery, for going out beyond the horizons of the known to see what might be found there.
What kind of preparation did you do before the recording? Musically? Emotionally? Spiritually?
TF: Before this session, I couldn't really imagine what the music would be like. I also didn't want to imagine. Instead, I approached this as a completely blank canvas. I simply wanted to be open to the moment, and to create and respond as best I could. I like to come to music as clear and free from preconceptions as possible. Usually, I have to undo my thinking. In this case, I was already there.
JW: Strangely enough, the best preparation for a recording like this seems to be an "unpreparation," or a "depreparation." These non-words (the need to invent words here is telling in its own right!) point to something that I find to be essential about the art of improvisation: the playful unraveling of plans, expectations, even aesthetic principles or positions. Just showing up with curiosity about what will happen and a hospitality toward the process in all of its transmutations (including aspects like aimlessness, error, conflict, and confusion). What never stops eliciting surprise and delight is how readily music comes into being without any conscious control of the process.
You've known each other for twenty years. What effect do you think that had on the music?
TF: I think it allows for a greater comfort in taking risks. We don't need any getting to know each other. It was just getting down to playing.
JW: For starters, we went through the crucible of music school together a couple of decades ago, so we share not only specific memories and friendships but also perhaps a set of core aesthetic questions about the nature of what we do. There isn't a lot of need to explain yourself to one another. This familiarity doesn't in any way diminish the surprise of finding out that you don't know what you think you know—about your fellow musicians, about yourself, about music itself. Enduring relationships are ironically the best place in which to (re)discover the other's otherness.
This recording was made in the midst of the 2021 pandemic and the fallout of the January 6th insurrection. Do you think these circumstances affected the music? If so, how?
TF: I think the real affect of any adversity is that, for the creative musician, it applies a certain pressure. For myself, this pressure manifests as an urgent need to be beyond the world, beyond the self, beyond the mind and beyond all thought. This is what I use improvised music for. Not to escape these things, but to be free of and from them, so as to respond to them from a more neutral way. These particular circumstances have proven to be quite potent!
JW: I think the art of the improviser is close to bricolage—a fashioning of something uniquely new out of whatever is ready at hand. The elements used can't help but include the whole range of experiences (personal, cultural, political) that texture our lives. Or maybe it is not the experiences themselves we work with but their imprints, the marks they leave upon us. The pandemic and the insurrection, taken together, seem to evoke a certain question of fragility—fragility of bodies but also of the body politic. This music, an expression of our fragile bodies, could be thought of as a cry. A cry is an address to someone. I think it's best to leave open the question of this cry, of who it is addressed to and what it means. Its significance to each one who hears it can't be known any better than its meaning to us, which (at least in my case) remains enigmatic. That said, I always tend to feel that in the cry there is something of the reckoning with loss.
Do you hear "adumbrations" as a continuation of your musical trajectory? Or a change in direction?
TF: I'm not sure trajectories are much of a reality for me. In the end there is only one musical path I'm on. I may not have always realized it, but I have always been on it, and I will always be on it.
JW: I have no idea, though it is exciting to imagine what direction could be possible if this album is setting something new in motion. For my part, I tend to wonder about the construction of trajectories and whether or not they can sometimes blind us to the radical singularity of each work. It could be that Adumbrations has no continuity or discontinuity but just does its own thing.
What do you hope the listener takes away from this record? Put another way, what do you hope to give to the listener?
TF: I hope that the listener can hear the depth of our affinities for one another. These two musicians are dear friends of mine, and there is no greater blessing, as a musician, than to play with those you love. I had the honor of mixing this record, as well as playing on it, and I made it my goal to feature all of us as one.
JW: As improvisers, I don't think we can legitimately ask of our music that it produce particular thoughts or feelings in the listener. However, I think it is possible to invite the listener to have an unnameable experience, something that touches the body and maybe stirs their own spontaneous act, their own lived improvisation, maybe a glimpse of the ample enjoyment that can still be possible when we don't know where things are going but we take the ride anyway.
released June 3, 2022
Josh Sinton - baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, alto flute
Jed Wilson - piano
Tony Falco - drums
Recorded Aug. 6,2021 by Elio DeLuca
at the Soul Shop, Medford, MA
mixed by Tony Falco
mastered by Luis Bacque
album art by Akinbo Akinnuoye
All compositions by Falco, Sinton and Wilson copyright 2022 Tony Falco, Sinzheimer Muzik (BMI), Parapraxis Publishing (BMI)
A Brooklyn-based creative musician, a baritone saxophone operator, a bass clarinet manipulator, recently returned to flute-blowing. Trying to become a better listener every day.
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