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Music and the Creative Spirit

Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet: Bridging the Future with the Past

By Published: February 5, 2009
LP: Paal, you said earlier that people in all of the arts are doing forward thinking work but sometimes you are out there all alone? How do you validate what you are doing?

PNL: When one is always true to oneself, then it's ok. You have your own understanding in the way you want things to go and as long as you carry it 100%, then it should be ok.

MG: Yeah, you cannot do much more.

KV: If I meet someone at a concert and they are happy about being there and about the music, I can recognize myself in them. You know what I mean?

I also value what my peers think. It means a lot to me. If I didn't feel as if I had a feeling of respect coming from those people that I respect, then I would know that I am doing something wrong or that I'm lying to myself about what it is that I am working on. And I think that fundamentally, you have to have that sense and if you abandon that even for a minute, then you are really going down to something that is going to lead to a dark place. There are people who have done amazing and incredible work and then for whatever reasons, they make choices to leave their work and then they don't seem to ever find it again. It's a delicate thing; the respect for the music and the people that you work with and once you let go of that for the sake of making more money or for the sake of being more famous, it slips away from you. Unfortunately, there are a lot of examples of that happening.

LP: I recently had a conversation with one person who was from Germany and the other person from Switzerland. The discussion centered around tolerance and the differences between various cultures and all of you come from different cultures. Do you find that tolerance differs amongst various cultures and does it affect how people view the events happening in the world today?

PB: I can say that the audiences and the people that I meet here (in the U.S.) are great. The people are curious, interested and young. So for me, it's always a pleasure to be here. But ofcourse, I see the other side too. When I first began coming to the states, I spent a lot of time in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

I was on the road with a bassist from South Africa and the other was Louis Moholo-Moholo who are both Black. And there were these guys at a bar who shouted, "Close the door nigger." And that was another world but I still think that this world exists and being on the road with William Parker
William Parker
William Parker
b.1952
bass, acoustic
and Hamid Drake
Hamid Drake
Hamid Drake
b.1955
percussion
quite a bit, we discuss my experiences in this country with two black guys and sometimes it can give you a funny feeling. I recently spent time with Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
b.1945
reeds
and we discussed the African American and the white situation and he said, "segregation is going stronger than ever." And from my outside view; in the end, nothing has changed. It's still, "Fuck these guys and fuck those guys." I mean, it's a mess we are in and it's not only an American mess; it's really a global mess.

MG: It's so disgusting.

PB: Yes, and of course, it looks different in different countries. And it's quite a global thing, hich has to do with the growing pre-capitalism situation that the world is in.

JM: It's economics.

MG: Its media controlled and we don't even know what is actually happening, we can only guess. It's crazy.

LP: Globalization seems to leave very little, if any room for creativity and independent thought.

MG: It becomes meaningless.

PNL: Yeah, the stronger the art part is, the stronger you're going to be to fight it.

KV: Things unfortunately go in cycles and we are in this period now in which this situation in Iraq, it doesn't seem unlike some of the things that were going on during the late 60s.

PB: I had just turned on CNN and heard what they are now doing in Fallujah. Man, is the only answer to drop 500 pound bombs on this village? I mean, can that be an answer to anything? I feel I just don't get it.

KV: It seems that we didn't learn anything in Vietnam and now we are here again.

JM: We're going backwards.


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