Forbes Graham: Magenta Haze
FG: I'll tell you, Wadada Leo Smith and Bill Dixon are people I really look up to now, but when I first heard them, they were all Greek to me...When I first heard Wadada, I was like, "Wow, what is this? He really sounds bad!" The different kind of palette of the textureI didn't like that! So it took me a while to get hip to that.
AAJ: It makes me think of the first time I saw you perform, solo, lower-case, and I just wondered, "What's this all about?"
FG: Yeah, I remember. That was a bad night anyway. I had an infected tooth, so I was running on half-steam.
AAJ: Then I saw you with Dave Rempis, from Chicago, at The Lily Pad. And it was like you were in a corner, and you punched him back in.
FG: He's loud! I really do like to hear everything. I don't like to go out there and just blurt. And I'm not saying that was what he was doing, just that I don't like to do that. We did some studio work with that band, and I'm starting to get in lock-step with [pianist] Pandelis Karayorgis.
AAJ: He's got kind of a "Blue Note" feel.
FG: I don't even know what I would say about his playing that makes him so interesting to work with, but I feel like when he's playing there's this big thing, and then a lot of little sub-things, and he'll hit certain things, and give you the little bubbly hints right along with it. It gives you a lot of nooks and crannies to jump right in.
AAJ: So he helped you in your two-pronged attack against Dave Rempis!
FG: [laughs] I wouldn't say it quite like that.
AAJ: Rempis is a very gifted player.
FG: I feel like there's a lot of mobility there in a way that's stimulating, 'cause not everybody does that and that's OK.
FB: Art Farmer I've listened to not so much, but Ted I know about. In the beginning, I was like, "Don Cherry, Don Cherry..." and I don't think that will ever go away. I won't say I've listened to a lot of trumpet players but I'm trying to appreciate each player's contribution. I find that things happen through osmosis in a lot of ways. Sometimes I don't listen to a lot of trumpet, but others I'm like, "I need to listen to this." Even if I just listen to a good trumpet player for a little while, I play better. It just happens that way.
AAJ: Recent performances: how was The Stone [New York City, Jan. 5, 2010]?
FG: Awesome. A lot of fun. We played really well, had a really good time. I'm looking forward to the rent benefit I'm playing in there later this month, with Matana Roberts [Jan. 24].
AAJ: Another highlight for you must have been your "Variations on the Fibonacci Sequence."
FG: Oh yeah, Festival of New Trumpet. Definitely. That was the FONT Festival (of New Trumpet Music) [held in New York City in October 2008].
AAJ: The Fibonacci Sequencemy understanding is that it's a sequence where there are two numbers, and the third is equal to their sum, and the next is equal to the prior two numbers.
FG: Recreational math is fun for me.
AAJ: It applies to Sanskrit poetry, I have read. Which was interesting to me, because both music and poetry involve phrasing; and within music, yours in particular.
FG: Absolutely. One thing about the Fibonacci sequence, it's got these units already built into it, where it's sort of self- referential, and it's very rhythmic. It's got a soaring aspect to it ... When I was in college I took one art class. And they're always talking about unity in a work of art. That wasn't something I was taught in music.
AAJ: Numerologyhow does that apply?
FG: It's a way to keep things in order, really.
AAJ: Are you into the occult?
FG: The closest thing I'll follow to the occult is philosophical Taoism. I'm not anti-religion at all, I'm not an atheist. There are things about the occult I find interesting, the idea of pursuing secret knowledge. But I'm not interested in manipulating the world or the universe in any way that's magical at all. To some extent that may be a reflection of my privilege, but also, I feel, it's fine the way it is. It's not fair, but I don't want to get anything more out of it by casting a spell. I have no interest in that.
My interest in the spiritual world has to do with how we're here, how we relate to all life forms, maybe what we see or can't see. Even within Taoism, I'm into some of the internal martial arts, that's about it. I'm not into Feng Shui.
AAJ: I know Lillian's into bonsai. It makes me think of watching you play, standing still, and then scratching your head, thinking about making just the right "cut."