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A Fireside Chat With Greg Kelley

By Published: February 23, 2003

GK: That was really great. There were some musicians on the West Coast who were trying to put together this Braxton project and they were talking to him and he said that he wanted more brass. A couple of those guys knew me and Taylor Ho Bynum and they suggested me. We basically went down there for a weekend and rehearsed all day one day and recorded the next day. It ended up being really fantastic. I really enjoyed it. I like Braxton's music. I hadn't studied it intensely, but I was familiar with some of what he had been working on and everything. When you read a lot of interviews or text with him, there is a lot of vocabulary involved, which can seem alienating, but meeting him, his enthusiasm for what he is doing is so high and his focus and obsession with his music is really intense and he just brings a real joy to the whole thing. He was so enthusiastic throughout the whole thing and he doesn't treat anyone like they are beneath him. He certainly doesn't act like he thinks he is anyone special. He doesn't have any sort of star complex. He is just really, really into working on music. That is great. Sometimes I think that might be detrimental because I don't think he sleeps enough or treats himself very well, but his enthusiasm is really encouraging and inspiring. He has a good way of telling people what he wants in an encouraging way. That was great. We were going to try and do a small tour on the West Coast for the release of the 4-CD set, but it didn't work out. I hope to do something again like that. It was a good experience.

FJ: Forlorn Green is a collaboration with Jason Lescalleet's computer. Was this recorded in real time?

GK: What Jason Lescalleet does live and what he does at home are two different things. Live, he uses a bunch of reel to reel machines, microcassettes and at home, he does a lot of work on the computer just taking sound and editing it and constructing pieces out of them. For this one, I sent him a bunch of recordings of myself playing solo and he was working with cutting them up and trying to do something and it wasn't working for some reason. What we ended up doing is getting together and recording in real time. For instance, the 27 minute long "Conquest of the Earth" piece is pretty much as is and I actually found that hard to believe when I first listened to it. What happened is, we were playing at a reverberant space and he had been recording me on microcassettes and playing them back at different speeds along with the loops, along with some circuit broken electronics that he was using. I was amplified as well and it just generated a lot of levels, so it sounds like there are seven or eight of me playing at the same time. So he took those recordings and a concert that we played a few years ago and used that as the ground and edited those a little bit and also took other recordings that he had of me and mixed all those together. The general basis is pretty much live and just spiced up after the fact. I guess not unlike some of the later Miles Davis electric things were, a lot of live material, but completely reworked in the studio after the fact.

FJ: And the future?

GK: I have a few records. My main partnership is with Bhob Rainey, who is a soprano saxophonist and the group we have called Nmperign. We've got a quartet recording with Axel Dorner, a trumpet player from Berlin. We have a trio recording we did with Gunter Muller, a Swiss musician who plays electronics and percussion. The quartet is coming out on Sentimental and the trio recording with Gunter Muller will come out on Rossbin, an Italian label that just put out a solo CD of mine ( If I Never Meet You in This Life, Let Me Feel the Lack ). Then I have a large ensemble recording coming out on GROB, which is a label out of Germany. Those are coming out and then there is also a Nmperign recording coming out. There is actually quite a bit. I am sort of taking it as it comes in a way. I am always bringing in elements that I ignored in the past. It seems like lately there is a lot more tonality coming back into it. I don't know if I am being reactionary to my own music, but that is not always the case either. There is really a lot out there. It is just that not all of it is above the surface and some of it is deliberately so. It is amazing. A lot of these younger musicians, their knowledge is astounding.


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