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Franklin Kiermyer: Joy And Consequence

Franklin Kiermyer: Joy And Consequence
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One has to identify that opening up is the goal and be clear that the purpose of convening is to allow that to happen. —Franklin Kiermyer
The tradition. It's common jazz terminology. What does it mean, though, to be "in the tradition"? The term usually confers on the musician a stamp of authenticity and infers working knowledge of the dominant idiom, as typified by the jazz cannon. It also perhaps implies a certain orthodoxy. It's strange to think, however, that a music that has always celebrated the innovative and reified its trailblazers, places so much emphasis upon allegiance to the tradition.

For drummer Franklin Kiermyer "the tradition"— his tradition—encompasses not so much a style of music as the intent behind making it and the experience of sharing it. To this end, on his extensive travels he has found common "tradition" in the most diverse music, from devotional music and the folk music of the world to the ecstatic, spiritual improvisations of (saxophonist) John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
.

Coltrane's latter albums have caused something of a headache for jazz historiographers as they don't fit the mold of the tradition, but for Kiermyer, the music that Coltrane produced in the latter half of the 1960s is profoundly spiritual and connected to timeless musical traditions around the planet. For Kiermyer, spiritual music has less to do with religion, deities or worship and everything to do with tapping into the universal consciousness—the universal vibration.

Further is the latest exhilarating chapter in Kiermyer's ongoing journey into refining—and furthering—his musical language. His quartet of saxophonist Azar Lawrence
Azar Lawrence
Azar Lawrence
b.1952
saxophone
, bassist Juini Booth and pianist Benito Gonzalez
Benito Gonzalez
Benito Gonzalez
b.1975
piano
is well attuned to Kiermyer's language, having played in the early 1970s bands of trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, pianists McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
and Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
, and drummer Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
—a tradition apart. Kiermyer's quartet delivers an adrenaline-pumping, inspired performance that balances form and freedom, where the musicians themselves are the compositional element of the music. For Kiermyer, music is both the message and the messenger.

All About Jazz:Where does the title Further signify?

Franklin Kiermyer When it came time to decide how to share this music—how to publish it and what to tell people about it, [co-producer] Michael Cuscuna said that, to him, this music was a furtherance and that could be a good introduction, so we decided to name the album Further.

To me, further is a good title for a few reasons. One is that my intention is certainly to go further on my path and share that. Another is that collectively, our intention is to go further into the feeling—the heart—the soul of the music. That's the whole reason for us coming together.

Further can have other meanings too. Michael felt that this music went further. Further than what, or in what ways, I'd prefer to leave to others to decide.

AAJ: What was the genesis of this album?

FK: I had been looking for the right musicians to move ahead with. I heard Benito [Gonzalez] and thought that might work very well with what I was trying to do. Benito and I admired each other's playing, we began to speak about possibilities and we were excited about the potential.

AAJ: Where did you first hear Gonzalez?

FK: I first heard him on a [saxophonist] Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
b.1960
sax, alto
video clip. Sometimes something catches my ear; either I hear something realized or I hear some potential in something that obviously somehow ties into what I'm trying to do and I try to pursue that when it happens. I could really feel that in Benito's playing. He also responded to my music and so we decided we should do something together.

AAJ: What led to bringing the others together?

FK:As we were speaking about who else we could perhaps do this with, Benito felt there weren't too many players who could do what was needed for this music. He seemed sure that the best choice would be Azar Lawrence, whom he had been playing with quite often. He asked me if I knew about Azar and I said: "Of course! I've been listening to Azar since I was a teenager." Those early 70's McCoy [Tyner] records are legendary, aren't they? Azar has always been one of my favorite saxophone players.

Soon after that, Azar, Benito and I had a three-way conference-call and were all excited about the potential. We discussed whether it would be a trio, quartet or quintet. We also discussed bass players, but for me it's not always so easy to find somebody who can play bass with what I'm trying to do on the drums. We all thought Juini [Booth] would be a good choice and we laughed about that too because of course the last time Azar and Juini played together was on those particular McCoy [Tyner] records. Even though, this music we play is somewhat different than that, there's a larger continuum that somehow encompasses all of it.

None of us knew what Juini was up to at that point, but I called him and he was very enthusiastic at the prospect. You know how things either fall into place or they don't and on this everything started to come together and everybody really pitched in. Even though I was bringing the band together and providing the direction musically, it was very much a collaboration in terms of making it happen.

Aside from the musicians themselves, other people made essential contributions. Most notably Michael Cuscuna, my co-producer and an amazing guy. It's beautiful that there are people believing in what I'm trying to do and wanting to help make it happen, even without financial incentive. I wish there was a lot of wealth to spread around, but this album came together because of our commitment to the music.

AAJ: You talked about a continuum and I guess each of your projects doesn't exist in a vacuum. How do you see Further in relation to the music you've made before, particularly the album Solomon's Daughter (Evidence Music, 1994), which you made with saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders?

FK: I'm spending my life trying to evolve, so each album is at least a document of where I've gotten to at that point in time. My understanding of continuum is two-part. Ultimately, there is no past, present or future. Simply put, the more you let go of that conception/misconception/fabrication the more present you are. That presence is where all this music comes from, no matter what we call it.

But at the same time—in terms of how phenomenon appear to us—there is a relative past, present and future—things happened, things are happening and things will happen. So I think that if you can be honest about these two ways 'continuum' exists, the closer you will get to the essential experience that is what music is for.

We're all influenced and somehow shaped by our experiences growing up. What we've heard and what has moved us the most is a big part of our development. In the middle of the last century, the potential for a wide-spread transformation of consciousness began to erupt—kind of like a volcano. Many people thought it was going to burn away a lot of confusion and it would be the dawning of a more conscious global society. You know, the proverbial Age of Aquarius.

For young people now, that might sound like just a particular cultural fashion at a particular point in time, but for most people then, it was a real vibe and many people really believed in that transformation. Those are the roots of the musical continuum we're talking about here. It wasn't a fashion. This was the revolution and it was happening then. People might have mixed it with different political agendas, different tribal agendas and different spiritual agendas, but for me at least, the core of it transcended all of those artificial delineations.

I was a boy growing up during the '60s, not a teenager, so the effect on me was less a result of choosing an ideology and more of just growing up with that as the dominant force of my milieu. I was blown away by some of the music that came forth and so I naturally wanted to find my own way to feel that.

What people were trying to share—what they were channeling—was this experience of transcending the bondage of concept. The paradox is that to reach that level of performance, normally one has to master concepts and systems and techniques and that requires a very strong devotion to development—a very strong work-ethic. You'd have to devote a great deal of your time to developing as a musician and as a conscious human being. That's what the music came to in the late '60s and what it required to get there.

The bar got raised so high in terms of commitment, mastery, honesty and integrity that—and this is just my opinion—most people did not know what to do from then on. The result—this incredible music and the people who made it—existed as examples of what could be achieved, but continuing on from there required too much from most people. It required too much in terms of mastery of one's instrument, spiritual development, putting the artistic agenda before the desires for normal success, vulnerability, etc.

I was so moved by a desire to experience what I heard—not play what I heard others play, but have that profound experience and share it—that I said "That's what's I'm going to do. That's what's worth doing, no matter what." Then the next question one asks oneself is "Yeah, but am I the person who can do it?" For whatever reason I said "I must" and whether I can or can't is not as important as the need to do it.

It's not that I have been trying to take what somebody else did or take what was done in a certain period and go further with it. I've been trying to be honest about what I feel is the essential vibe and get deeper into that and go further into that. That's the continuum I'm speaking of.

For me and my way of looking at things I ask myself: "What is the purpose of music?" I try to give myself over to that with whatever resources I have to do the best I can, experiencing the answer to that question and sharing that experience. That's the continuum; it's a personal relationship with the creator—emptiness [laughs].

You have to give yourself over to the continuum but I don't think the continuum we're speaking about, musically or spiritually or even socially has a beginning middle or end. It is essentially primordial—it is the basis—and I think that's why certain music is so powerful. It comes from there and goes there.

AAJ: On the EPK video for Further you all use the word "spiritual" to talk about this music, in fact Gonzalez says "It goes beyond music." A lot of the music you've made in your life has been driven by or inspired by this concept, so what does the term "spiritual" mean for you?

FK: Well, the concept—concepts are words. Spiritual is just a word, but I believe Benito is speaking of the same phenomenon—the same experience. The more we relax our habit of grabbing onto concepts or thoughts, the more the heart flows. The essential nature of that heart is spiritual. I think that what we call love is what happens when you really relax. I think love is spiritual.

You have to hone and develop your ability to let go because we are so used to describing things to ourselves instead of experiencing them. That holds us back from being present. It's something we have to work with honestly and with awareness. I need to confront the things that hold me back and open myself to it and learn to let the barriers fall so I can share it. That to me is what spirituality is. It's love and it deepens and grows by sharing it.

AAJ: Do you think that somebody who doesn't believe in spirits or in deities can appreciate this music to the same extent as somebody who does?

FK: I don't think belief systems help. I think they generally get in the way. Deities aren't real. The spirit is not something real. These are constructs of the imagination. That is what essentially the deity is. If you travel back to the source of your imagination with your eye of wisdom you'll see there's no beginning to it. That openness is the deity—the spirit, but it's not a 'thing.' All systems are fabrications—musical or non-musical. This is proof to me that we are all essentially the same and we're all essentially free—perfect.

We have to use words to communicate—systems of transferring ideas using sound—just like we're doing now, so what words do you use? I know I am not the only artist struggling with these terms. What do you say? I want to share my heart with you? Every word has baggage. Some people don't say "spirituality," they say "spirit." Or they say "soul." They are all allusions and they're all illusions.

The point is, how does the music feel to you? Even more importantly, what does it do to you? Not what does it sound like, or even feel like, but what does it do? That's the whole point of this.

AAJ: Focusing on one particular aspect of this continuum; there are similarities between Further and Solomon's Daughter, most obviously the similar styles of Sanders and Lawrence; is the ecstatic element common to both these players essential in the perusal or creation of the spirituality—or whatever you want to call it—in your music?

FK: It's a good question. What I think you're pointing at, what you're calling the ecstatic quality in this music, is a product of a few essential things that the musicians bring to the moment. The most important element is faith —faith in two things: one is faith that if one does let go what comes forth is the point—the fruit; the second faith is that one can actually do this— that one can allow oneself to be open like that. I don't even care what instrument a person plays. It's that faith that can make the music great.

The other important quality is intention. One has to identify that opening up is the goal and be clear that the purpose of convening is to allow that to happen. When we come together, the purpose is to cause this to happen and to share this experience. Some people might say that the purpose is to make the room vibrate, some people might say it's to open up to that ecstasy or awe, but how you describe it is not really the point. The faith is so strong that the purpose is to share that faith.

AAJ: There are obvious ties linking all the musicians together and linking them to a quite specific tradition...

FK: That tradition, that's what I'm trying to say. It's that faith and openness and passion. It's music as a spiritual path. That is the tradition. In terms of musicians who have been models of that for me there are many; some more and some less. In the society and time that I've grown up in John Coltrane and his quartet shine as a prime example of this. The reason for this is not that these people became so great at playing a style or tradition or even that they developed a tradition further. It's who they were and became as individuals.

It's not that they became the best purveyors of a language. There is something deeper going on. The reason these musicians and bands are so powerful is because what they're opening up to in themselves is really primary—really essential. It transcends a style or a vocabulary or any tradition. In my experience, that vibe is not cultural or tribal or temporal. It transcends all that. It's original, as in coming forth from the origins. I think that's the point.

So it's really about individuals. That's what's hard for a lot of musicians to come to terms with, I think. The continuum is just individuals. Not devoted to what's been done before, but devoted to the same thing—this experience—and that is the experience of what we are essentially; that openness and freedom. It's less of a style and more of an uncovered nakedness. That nakedness is the courage. That's the faith.

AAJ: Do you find this same element in other musics around the world...?

FK: Absolutely. All over. Not only that, but what I find even more remarkable is that I find it in jazz music that pre-dates the 1960s. When I was first in a position where I was asked to talk about this I thought, "Well, what are the precedents for me? There's obviously John Coltrane and there's some of the themes and directions and orchestrations of Béla Bartók music I loved and the music of the Bayaka people of the rainforest and South-Indian nadaswaram music, etc. etc., but are these isolated pockets? No. It's everywhere.

There have always been individuals and groups of musicians practicing this tradition in some form or another." I grew up listening to my Dad's record collection, mostly traditional New Orleans stuff and older big-band music and the songs that moved me the most were the ones that were exposing some of that vibe—that on-the- spot, soulful, spiritual and reaching-for-it feeling. I feel it in [Coltrane's posthumous album]Sun Ship, and I feel it in Korean ritual music. I hear it in Pontic (Greek) bagpipes and I hear it in [pianist] Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
! It's the same vibe. I really believe that.

It's funny, when I was a teenager I remember reading an interview with Elvin Jones where he said "I was very influenced by parade music. I've always loved marching bands. That's what I wanted to do." I thought, "No, how does that relate to [Coltrane's] Transition (Impulse, 1965) Now it's obvious to me. It's the same thing—that vibe.

How you hear it or how Elvin may have heard it or how I hear it might be different and how that comes out in someone's music will be different but the feeling is what's inside of us individuals and that's what we learn to tap into. You can only do that in your own way. People devoting themselves to this quest—well, that's been happening from the dawn of mankind, maybe before [laughs].

AAJ: How significant was the Jewish devotional music you heard growing up in Montreal in shaping your musical journey?

FK: Very significant. The Ashkenazi tradition in Montreal that I was born into and grew up in was quite undiluted. I grew up in a very—the Yiddish word is haimisha—down- home environment and that felt really good to me. It was warm and passionate and direct and inquisitive. That's the way the synagogue felt to me too. That said, I always felt that I could have been born into any tribe and that would have been equally significant one way or another. It's my good fortune that I didn't feel "Oh, this tribe is the tribe."

Growing up during the time of the Vietnam war and around my elders that were alive during the Second World War and even—in the case of my grandparents—the pogroms, there was a healthy mistrust of nationalism and a lot of the things that separate people, including organized religion. I think that helped a lot of my generation look beyond their boundaries.

AAJ: Zoning in on Further, there seem to be two main aspects to the music: firstly, anchors in the form, such as the mantra-like motifs, and on the other hand an obvious freedom; is that how you see it, as a kind of yin and yang?

FK: I think that's very well put. It's a white elixir and red elixir meeting and mixing [laughs]. It's what we spoke about earlier. There's form and there's emptiness. In my understanding "emptiness" is a simple description of what really is and "form" is a simple description of what appears. I think the mastery we seek is in the relationship between these two elements, the yin and the yang. As we develop more faith in the emptiness and become more adept at the forms, the music gets deeper.

Bringing it down to a musical technique, there's [clicks fingers rhythmically] One-two-three-four, Two-two-three-four, Three- two-three-four-Four-two-three-four; these cycles are part of bigger cycles and there's a beginning and an end. That's all system, that's all superimposition and it's important because the way that we experience time is relative, but essentially what's happening is open and free—[claps hands once] I mean, what's that? That's the other half.

So there's this linear thing—the pulse or groove—and many people become very expert with these forms and these metrics. But I've tried to focus equally on the other, vertical element—on the presence. What I mean is that there's a horizontal (linear), which is the past, present and future, but there's also the vertical, the expansive quality of the presence and when you combine these two qualities, that's how this music works. It's the feeling of groundedness—the groove—combined with the feeling of freedom—the presence. As the songs says: [sings] "You can't have one without the oth—er."

AAJ: Can you describe the creative process of Further?

FK: I'm always coming up with themes. I like to come up with just a few notes that speak the most to me and make me want to play. That's all that I come in with as well as some ideas about arrangement. This album is a case in point. There are some themes and some ideas of direction but not more than that. The musicians are the main compositional element. You can try to write a lot of music but for me that's a different thing. You need some sort of platform—because you've got to start somewhere—but then I rely on the musicians. I've tried to learn what I can about how great leaders like [trumpeter] Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
did it and it seems that the best approach is to find the best musicians you can and let them do what they do. The best musicians are the ones who know what to do all by themselves.

AAJ: That this music was based on loose sketches, was recorded in just a couple of days and is a spiritual work—I thought that the obvious inspiration would have been John Coltrane's A Love Supreme but having gone back and listened a couple of times to that album it's clear that Further is a lot more intense, isn't it?

FK: Well, even though A Love Supreme is absolutely wonderful and I have been deeply influenced by it, the music on Further is, of course, different. It is what it is, by itself. It's what happened right then-and-there. A lot of the music I play has that energy or intensity you're referring to, but that's a by-product of the elements—the faith and intention—we were speaking about earlier.

AAJ: So, to what degree is Coltrane an influence on Further?

FK: Well, aside from loving John Coltrane's music and having been influenced by it, like most other musicians over the past fifty or so years, Azar, Juini and I have all played with some of Trane's close associates. Playing with great musicians is the greatest learning experience of all, so that has informed us, at least to some degree. All four of us see music as a spiritual practice and that is clearly in the tradition of Coltrane.

The first track on this album "Between Joy and Consequence" is a sketch I'd been playing with for a long time and the title and the theme certainly grew out of my reactions to a Coltrane album called First Meditations [recorded 1965 and release on Impulse! 1977). There are two cuts on First meditations, the first called "Joy" and one called "Consequences" and the theme for "Between Joy and Consequences" is my reaction to these two.

AAJ: Jazz has always had a paradoxical culture whereby musicians are almost expected to play within the confines of the idiom, to know the jazz cannon and be familiar with the masters and yet at the same time individualism within jazz has always been reified, unless you're Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
or Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
or late period Coltrane in which case most people avoid dealing with it or discussing it in any real depth in jazz histories because it's too far out there, or perhaps they're afraid of assimilating it. How do you see it?

FK: I think you have it bang on. I remember being in Delhi some years ago at the university there. I was sitting with a flautist named Rajendra Prasanna—a very prominent Indian musician who is a professor there. A student of his came over to us to ask Rajendra a question about a recent lesson. After he got his answer he very naturally touched his hand to Rajendra's foot and then touched his own forehead and said: "Thank you very much Guruji," and walked away. To me, that's the difference.

I feel that it's pretending, to want to wash away the history of the experiences that have contributed to one's development. Whether through person-to-person interaction or through listening to recorded performances, the teacher-student relationship is essential for our development. We should honor our teachers. I want to learn how to be more and more honest about this—how to acknowledge the antecedents. We all want to be individuals, particularly in the West, but it's about balance. For example, if you listen to Elvin Jones and then to me, you'll hear that I don't play the same way Elvin does. There are many differences. At the same time, it's obvious that he was a great influence on me.

When I started getting a little bit of notice people would say "It sounds like you've been really influenced by Elvin Jones" and of course, one of the things I felt was "Yes!" and another thing I felt was "I don't sound like Elvin Jones; I have my own way of playing and my own sound!" [laughs] So, how do you deal with that internally in an honest way? Here I am years later saying, "Yeah, yeah, I love that stuff and it's been a big influence on me, but the part of it that was the biggest influence is what that music does to me—how it feels."

It's really about where all that stuff comes from. It's about what the music does. If that's what you want to learn how to do, you need to find your own way to do it because someone else's way of playing will not get the same result anyway. You can't use someone else's vehicle. You need to find your own.

You would need to ask yourself, "Why does Coltrane's music feel like that? Why does Elvin's music feel like that?" They're very different people obviously; all you have to do is see what they did on their own. McCoy [Tyner] too. So what is your motivation? Well, I don't want to pretend. I want to be honest about the things that have moved me the most and influenced me. Wouldn't it be a shame if I purposely had to avoid it? I've had people say to me "I avoid that because it might influence me." I understand the principle but I say to myself "Let go of all that stuff and follow your heart."

Finally, the music has to speak for itself. If the music does something to you and that's a positive experience then that's all it's worth. In terms of where it fits in history, what it sounds like or doesn't sound like to you, to be honest that's not what's important to me. It might be important in terms of whether somebody writes something favorable or unfavorable based on their perception, but in terms of my purpose in doing this, it's only about making what's essential happen and sharing that. That's the point of this.

AAJ: Returning specifically to Further There two versions of "Between Joy and Consequence," a live version and a studio version and you end the album with "The Other Blues" which is a pretty straight-ahead blues. Was this album, or at least the first six songs intended as a suite?

FK: No, but I think one could listen to it in that way. The choice of cuts and sequencing was part of Michael's [producer Cuscuna] input. "Between Joy and Consequence" opens and closes it—the first version live and the other a studio version. We decided to include the two versions because we couldn't decide which one was better and while they are somewhat different, we thought they both stood on their own.

It's also nice that one can hear us playing the same type of piece in studio and in front of an audience. Actually, they are both in the same studio, but the live version was performed for an audience of about 75 people. I'm pleased that it just feels like whenever we play it's live. After that, there's "The Other Blues"—the last song on the album. It's kind of like bringing it down to where the culture comes from—a blues. This was also live.

AAJ: The music is very intense for the most part; how difficult is it to play in such an intense manner and stay attuned to the harmonic and rhythmic elements going on?

FK: They're not separate things. I think you can hear this when you listen to music whose main goal is intensity. Usually it lacks the depth. It doesn't feel so honest or deep. I don't think that works. The intensity has to come from the soul, from the faith. Azar [Lawrence] would say the spirit, of passion, of love. If the intensity is artificial it doesn't really feel intense, it feels loud.

That said, people have listened to music that we might think is incredibly intense, passionate and beautiful, and thought that it just sounded angry to them. So, everybody hears what they hear. What happens when we play, and I'm smiling when I say this, you could describe as religious fervor, I suppose.

AAJ: Booth's bass playing on Further is felt deeply rather than heard as a more soloistic voice like some bass players these days. What can you tell us about his contribution?

FK: Juini is a master at making the bass of the music strongly felt. I hope that's not a lost art. I feel that his presence is so deep. He grew up with the music. He was in [drummer Art Blakey's] The Jazz Messengers when he was a teenager. He's on those early 1970s McCoy [Tyner] records. He was in [drummer] Tony William's Lifetime with [organist] Larry Young
Larry Young
Larry Young
1940 - 1978
organ, Hammond B3
. He's played with everyone from Elvin Jones to Sun Ra. From my perspective that presence he brings is what bass is all about.

AAJ: You're releasing Further on your own label, right?

FK: Yes. Further is released on my label, Mobility Music and it's released as digital-only. Anyone can have this album for free as MP3s or for a contribution as high resolution files. As a matter of fact, not only can you can get the CD quality 44.1kHz/16bit .wav files, but you can also get the original masters at 96kHz/24bit, which is of course what I would prefer everybody to listen to because that's the closest to what we actually did. They are the actual masters.

I like this model and we'll see how well it works out. If you are so moved as to consider making a contribution, you can have the best quality of what we made and your contribution will help me go even further. I make the promise that I will do my best to go even further. This may sound idealistic or Marxist, [laughs] but let's none of us be middlemen anymore. Let's all be primary contributors. Let's share what we can and help to further what we think is useful and important. That's what this is about.

The reason for doing it in this way is that I want to share this music with as many people as possible, to develop relationships with those that will benefit from this music and then go and perform for them wherever they are.

AAJ: This method of free download on a pay-what-you-think-its-worth basis is becoming more and more common. Maybe it means that jazz/creative music is not really commercially viable and maybe it means that the live gig is becoming more and more central to musician's livelihoods; how important are gigs for you in making a living?

FK: Live performance has been the way people make most of their living in this music for a long time and in the rare case a 'jazz' album sells well, it's not usually the artist that gets the money anyhow. More importantly, live performance is what this is about. It's about sharing this music live and it's also how this music is made. It can only be made live. It's great to make recordings, but a performance is being there together and making something happen. That's what this is all about. That's how this music works.

Throughout the history of this music very few musicians have made money off of record sales and it's always been with records that appeal to, if not cater to, a more commercial audience. Certainly in the last ten or fifteen years hardly any musicians have made any money from records.

AAJ: Is that why you stopped making records for almost ten years until a couple of years ago?

FK: No. I didn't publish anything for those years because I was spending most of that time on various spiritual retreats, in South Asia and elsewhere, meditating and studying. I had made a decision that the most important thing I could do was go as deep as I could into the feeling of this music. That naturally led me to trying to be honest with myself about the things that were holding me back.

I identified that as my 'self' [laughs] so I made a conscious effort to address that as directly as I could. I was still involved with music when I wasn't on retreat, but trying to get records out and be part of the business was not my focus. I realized that life was short and I'd better follow where my inquiry was leading now if I was real about where the music needed to go. I really wanted to go further, [laughs] and wherever that took me I had to go.

AAJ: Back in the present Franklin, is this band a working band and are you focused on getting gigs?

FK: Yes, absolutely. It's our wish and our intention that we're out there as much as possible playing for the people that can benefit from what we are doing. It's at the beginning of the process of reaching people with this music. The goal in all of this is to go play for the people we're reaching. All of us are really looking forward to that and how the music will inevitably grow from performance to performance.

AAJ: The very best of luck with this endeavor. Franklin, where do you see your music going from here?

FK: I see it going further, [laughs]. I'm looking forward to playing with this group and doing subsequent recordings. There are other formats I want to explore as well. Right now, I am hopeful that this record will contribute to an increased awareness of what we're doing. The main thing is taking this band on the road and the beauty of that is that each time we play the music will evolve. Each time we play it'll be a happening.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Carsten Anikdal


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