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Forbes Graham: Magenta Haze

By Published: February 2, 2010
AAJ: Then I saw you with Dave Rempis
Dave Rempis
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
Pandelis Karayorgis
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.

AAJ: Also in your playing, I hear Ted Curson
Ted Curson
Ted Curson
1935 - 2012
, maybe Art Farmer
Art Farmer
Art Farmer
1928 - 1999
—you seem to have heard all these people.

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
Don Cherry
1936 - 1995
, 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
Matana Roberts
Matana Roberts

sax, alto
[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 Sequence—my 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.

FG: That's really important to me because when you're playing with other people, the whole thing is to try to add something that makes the whole thing make sense. My job is to, "Let me help you help me help you." From there, we can spring off into some other stuff. We can spring off into wild forces really good or play really well. But my first number one thing is, "Me help you help me help you." Because when you go to a concert, you want to feel something's really there. What I'm doing is mostly in the realm, 70 percent, of free improvised music. Everybody has their own kind of personal narrative, maybe, but that narrative gets unraveled by life. My narrative is people getting along. I like to see conflicts getting resolved.

title="Forbes Graham—Copyright © Dave Fischer">

AAJ: What are the ethics of aesthetics?

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