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Ted Daniel: Brass Tapestry

By Published: November 14, 2007

AAJ: Were you doing any music therapy, or was it with non-musicians?

TD: I have done some work with adolescents utilizing rap music as a catalyst to stimulate insight into their behavior, stuff like that. I was also training people how to interview, dealing with child welfare issues and that sort of thing. It was a completely different area of my life that was very rewarding, and I was able to transfer my skills back and forth, but I wasn't active musically as much as I would like to have been. I still have a small practice, but I'm now back in music full-time.

AAJ: Could you discuss your recent work? I know you've done some stuff with Billy Bang, for example. What directions has your music been taking of late?

TD: You know about Billy Bang and the two albums I did with him. I need to say a little bit about that; it was very important that I had done the recording of Vietnam: The Aftermath (Justin Time, 2002) as a veteran and wanting to be a part of a musical statement that says something about that experience. That was great for me and still is, as we are still working. I was glad to be a part of that with Billy, and that kind of started me back because I was coming to the end of my day job anyway, so that returned me to the music world, so to speak. It was important on two fronts, by introducing me to some people who probably didn't know me, and helping me get back in.

What am I doing now? I have a band called the International Brass & Membrane Corps, and that is with Newman Taylor-Baker, Charles Burham on violin, Joe Daly on tuba and myself on assorted brass. Of course the name lends itself to the instrumentation—membranes and brass. I started that in '98 with Newman on percussion and Jose Davila on tuba as a trio. At the time we were a part of Henry's band that was working in Belgium. When we got back, I did a few gigs over here and members have changed—I replaced Jose with Joe Daly on tuba and added Charles—and these are people that I've known over the years.

Joe Daly I did Crystals (Impulse!, 1973) with, so we go all the way back, and Newman I first met with Dewey Redman when we were playing Philly back in the '70s. Charles Burham and I go back awhile and we'd been talking about getting together; he worked with Blood Ulmer's band. So that's the group I'm working with and enjoying a lot, and I'm hoping to get some recordings done with it. It's very different than anything else you're hearing right now, because it's melodic and after all is said and done about my freedom and energy playing, at the end of the day it's melodic. That's the basis of what I do.


So that band is happening, and I formed a duo with Michael Marcus, who played baritone in the last Energy band in the 80's, and since we've been together for the past three years he's been solely on clarinet. We call the band Duology; we have a release out on Boxholder and have done some gigs in New York. We had very successful concerts recently down in Baltimore and one at the Rubin Museum here in Manhattan. We've done some high school seminars and that's of a piece that's very interesting to me.

Duology revealed to me a lot of musical possibilities with the two horns. It's a very demanding format and it asks a lot of each individual to come up with fresh ideas and approaches to your instrument and to the music. So it's been a challenge and a growth period for me.

AAJ: Especially for clarinet and trumpet; the only analogue I can think of is that John Carter and Bobby Bradford did a duet recording that's really interesting, but it's a very challenging medium to work in.

TD: It is, it is, and I was not aware of the duo when we started—I knew of John Carter and Bobby Bradford but only in group contexts. What happened was that Mike had known of them, but I didn't want to hear any of it until after we recorded. When I listened to it I was floored by what they did— everywhere we've played with the group, people are amazed because they haven't heard anything like it. They think that you need to hear the drum and the bass; you don't, if you're talking about improvisation, and you just put your head in another place and go with that. It's a challenge, but people come away from it- -we've only gotten good reviews from the audience.

AAJ: It's interesting; people often think of the duo format as certainly requiring a drummer or at the very least a chordal instrument. Two front line instruments without a chordal or rhythmic backing (as people understand it) is very, very unique.

TD: What happens is the impetus becomes communication between the two. Then you begin to get a really interesting and powerful statement, when two people are communicating and you can hear the development and movement of that music as they go along. That's intense, and once people key into that— "Oh, they're talking to one another, I see"—they enjoy it. Since the Boxholder recording, we've moved to another level—we bumped it up a notch, but I'm proud of that record and it's a good start.

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