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A Fireside Chat With Greg Kelley

By Published: February 23, 2003

GK: There is a whole community of people, at a certain point, I decided when I was in school, that I really had no interest in playing this kind of music which was very job oriented. Thinking about making a living became, it became irrelevant. I realized that if this is the way I have to act to make a living, if I have to play this way and follow these rules, I don't really want to have to think about that, so I am just going to focus on the music and food will come in other ways. In terms of getting a chance to play, there is just a whole network of people throughout the country where you can get shows and play. Definitely at first, you can't focus on getting anything beyond gas money to play, which is fine for me. Bhob Rainey, a saxophonist that I play with a lot, we're doing a lot of traveling. We were just basically trying to get out there and trying to play and trying to meet people. But then after a while, you find different organizations that are going to put music on that can help fund a tour so you don't leave your day job behind and lose all the money that you have saved over the past few months in order to go out and enjoy playing music. More recently, we have been having good luck being able to travel oversees and have it funded, which is good. In the States, it varies. It is either being received well in the cities that already have some sort of established scene like Chicago or San Francisco or Seattle, but also, it depends a lot on who is putting on the show. I recently played in Lexington, Kentucky and there is a guy there and he just knows a lot of people and has a lot of friends who are younger and really enthusiastic and we went there and they don't seem to have an improvised music scene there, but they do have people doing noise and off kilter rock. There is not much going on there, so the enthusiasm for anything different is pretty high. Sometimes going to a place where they have an established scene is bad. Sometimes I have played in New York and there is ten other things going on that night and no one will come, yet playing somewhere like Madison, Wisconsin, where there aren't too many musicians, but people are eager for some sort of entertainment, so you get a really enthusiastic crowd there. It depends a lot on who puts it together and how organized they are and how much enthusiasm they can generate beyond it being any kind of name recognition.

FJ: Over the last few years, you have increased your recording documentation, in particular, the trio with Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano.

GK: I met Paul through John Voight, a bassist around here. When I first moved to Boston, it was really hard to find anyone to play with. If they don't know anything about you, they are not willing to give you a try. But I ended up playing once with John Voight and he started championing me and just bringing me around to people. I am not sure how he met Paul, probably through Michael Ehlers, who runs Eremite ( ) out in Amherst because he had been putting on shows with Paul Flaherty a lot and shows where John Voight was playing. John set up a show and had me play and had Paul play and set up that connection. So Paul brought me into the studio with Laurence Cook and that worked out really well ( The Ilya Tree ). We played a few times and Paul and Chris play a lot, so he thought it would be fun to try out this trio. Paul lives in Connecticut and he doesn't have a chance to tour or travel much, so his main focus is on recording. He likes to set up these recording sessions. It just worked really well. We keep trying to do more and more. We just played on Sunday.

FJ: And you did a record with Anthony Braxton on Six Compositions 2001.

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