Taek Five With Eric John Eigner
Your sound and approach to music:
This is fortunately a never ending process. As your sound is like your face...with time always changing. Having a sound is more like video than a photograph, it is always moving and evolving, mutating and changing. Learning to trust my instincts and having the willingness to move into areas of playing that I do not yet know. Paying attention to the world we live in and the world that lives within us! Everything is musical, architectural, poetic, informative...one only need be still and observant.
Your teaching approach:
My experience is that every person has a natural approach to the way they come to the instrument. The initial directive energy they move in. This, to me, is the identifier and the point of which to begin and nurture. History, technique, philosophy...all these things are layered upon that primary root!
Your dream band:
Each new band I have and recording I do is a result of my dream at the time, the thing I am trying to get at in the music of that moment for me. In that respect I plan on having many a dream band. There are many players I would enjoy working with of which whose names I both know and do not yet as music is also of a future tense. I look to work with people I can learn from. People who I can both challenge and be challenged by...this creates freshness in the music.
Road story: Your best or worst experience:
Running out of money in Tahiti with a delayed flight due to a 747 that hydroplaned off the runway into the ocean. Fortunately I was not on this flight! Due to the accident however, all flight were cancelled. As a result I was put up in a 5 star hotel, ocean side for a few days, all expenses paid!
Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Mysterium, An Electric Soundpainting Septet.
It most reflects what I am currently feeling with music, improvisation and composition.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
CDs you are listening to now:
Lawrence D. Butch Morris, ORT-Orchestra della Toscana, Holly Sea Conductions 57 58 59;
Tower of Power, Live and in Living Color;
Henry Threadgill, Everything I can get my hands on! Robbie Robertson & the Red Road Ensemble, Music for the Native Americans;
Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier, Music for Violin and Piano;
Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments;
Anthony Braxton, Quartet Dortmund 1976;
György Ligeti, String Quartets and Duets.
Desert Island picks:
Tracy Chapman, Matters of the Heart; John Coltrane, First Meditations;
Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble, Music for the Native Americans;
Ornette Coleman, Art of the Improvisers;
Prince, Around the World in a Day.
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I would describe it side by side with the state of music in general, art in general, society in general and the times in general. Ultra conservative, ultra isolated, ultra in need of vision, time, collectivity...
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
I feel that there is not really a solid musical community (in New York) and really hasn't been since the late '80s/early '90s.
John Zorn and William Parker have been the main orchestrators along with all their peers. It is due to the increase in economics in the city. Rents are sky high which keeps everybody hustling for money, doing whatever must be done to survive, draining peoples time and energies, "consuming everybody's energies in a multitude of irrelevant struggles." All this eats the time needed to work on your craft and construct a music/an art worth hearing/seeing.
Previous movements came about as a result of consistent collective activity (though each collective member need certainly put in their time on an individual level to build a language to bring to the collective). Coupled with this extreme economic period of hardship has been, what I feel, a very ultra-conservative and retrogressive mentality and spirituality. The societal value system is in a horrible state of being and has been for quite some time now! The ability and actuality of what was once self expression, art and creativity has been replaced by cheap '80s Ray Ban sunglasses and gold lamé pumps.
Everybody seems to want to look the part of an artist without actually putting in the time and dedication required to actually produce something of intrinsic value (the function of art). The saddest part about it though is the Emperor really believes his/her new clothes are happening!
In short, attention and awareness, to not just the music but to the world we are living in...well, that is primary to art of any quality.
What is in the near future?
I am working on a couple solo recordings; 1) Solo music for drum set;
2) Solo music for table-top percussion, analogue electronics and clarinets.