Michael Bisio: Stepping Into the Limelight
MB: My time on the east coast, in particular New York City, has been filled with tremendous growth and collaborations that are the stuff of dreams. Special events that stand out include: Matthew Shipp's Sacred Geometry and PostModern Jazz Quartet, Michael Bisio Quartet at Vision Festival XII, Jason Kao Hwang's Spontaneous River, and William Parker's Prayer for Basses. I have had the opportunity to play duets with Henry Grimes, William Parker and Ken Filiano. Louie Belogenis and I have performed trio with Sunny Murray and Rashied Ali (a trio date with Sunny Murray will be out on Porter records soon). Louie and I have a duo recording (currently shopping) that is the result of being neighbors for the better part of a year, playing music at least weekly, and developing a unique language. Way, way cool. Tomas Ulrich's Cargo Cult is an astounding ensemble (cello, guitar, bass) covering a very wide spectrum of music at a very high level. I have formed relationships with icons like Karl Berger, Warren Smith and Connie Crothers. Upstate collaborators include the great pianists David Arner and Bob Gluck, vocalist Julia Donnaruma, guitarist George Muscatello, and performance artist Nicole Peyrafitte (now in Brooklyn), as well as Deep Listening founder Pauline Oliveros. Beginning fall term 2009, I have held the position of Instructor of Bass at Bennington College.
About a year ago, Matthew Shipp asked me to join his trio, which includes the great Whit Dickey. There is not a doubt in my mind that this is the finest piano trio in creative music today. Matt's leadership generates a joy every time we play that is palpable and sublime. The first documentation of the trio, our second concert, is included in a live double-CD set of Matthew's work. The Art Of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear, 2011), which has just been released. On January 13 , we played at Iridium in NYC. The beginning of February marked a European tour and there are dates throughout the northeastern United States in March.
I have just completed my first solo effort, Travel Music (Self Produced, 2011). This is a very exciting project for me and the first I hav e decided to oversee every aspect of its production. It was recorded beautifully by Ted Orr at Sertso Studios in Woodstock, NY during two sessions one month apart. The reaction of friends who have heard it is very encouraging. It is now available.
AAJ: I know you don't really like the term "free," as applied to your music. Could you tell us what bothers you about the word, and how the music is best described?
MB: You are right. I don't like the term in relation to my music. There is of course nothing wrong with the word itself. The problem for me is it has become a term used to marginalize the music and the artists.
In some perverse way, the term has been used for both charlatan and genius practitioners. There is obviously an immense difference. Why the same word? To me free, at its best, implies the largest amount of responsibility, because there is really only freedom of choice. An artist needs as large a vocabulary as possible to be able to express as exactly as possible what is in his or her heart, mind, spirit and body.
AAJ: What do you see happening in the music as it evolves? Where do you see the music going in the next 20 years?
MB: Music, for me ,is about the act of creation, the positive sounds, energy, feeling and healing released at the point of departure. I don't have an idea about how music will evolve. But I am pretty comfortable being part of the evolution of the revolution in music. No matter where it goes, I believe these attributes will always be at the center for me.