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Art Lande: Revealing the Infinite

By Published: September 17, 2012
Music and Love

AAJ: What is the relationship between music and love?

AL: [Long pause.] Well. The first word that came to mind was "acceptance." Again, I don't think often that I'm a professional; I play with the people I love and who love me, and we love things in common, so that's a link, for sure. That's why these things sustain.

People have affinities: they have affinity for other musicians, for their sound, for their way of expression. When you say, "I love how you play," or "I love pomegranates," or "I love Vermont," whatever it would be, it's something primal. There's something of natural affinity as an animal that draws you about the way the person conducts their business, the way they make their sounds. I mean, the people I play with who I love and who I love playing with, we notice the subtlest things: "Oh, I like the way they phrase, I like the sound they get, I like their ideas, I like the way the rhythm feels, and I like the way we respond together, the way we sense each other."

So acceptance means I want you to play what you really want to play. I don't want you to pretend anything for me. Don't do it for me. Do it because it's what's you really hear or the way you really want to play it. The players I love to play with want that for me, too; they want me to play exactly how I hear it. That's acceptance. Even if it's like, "Oh, I hated that part you played!" It's like I love it and I hate it at the same time. They might smile at me, knowing that I hate it, like, "You really hated those awful eleventh chords, didn't you?" They're laughing because they know that I'll go wide enough to say, "I know you did that on purpose, and I accept. I'm accepting of that." So yes, it's acceptance and kind of an invitation: be who you are.

The other part is to stay in contact. So even if we're making music and someone is purposely ignoring me, if they're playing in the wrong vibe of my soft, beautiful thing and making these horrible [makes cracking sound] electronic noises, they're totally in touch with what I'm doing and what my process is. They might even know that those sounds are meant to be irritating, not to me but as an artist. As an artist, they're for all this irritation to go with the beauty. And they know that I'm wide enough to say, "God, that's awful! I love it. Thanks for doing that; I would never have done it." Which makes a wide scope.

That's the way love works; that's the way love of my friends and family works. It's like: Just be who you are. Do things I would never do. I trust you. I know who you are at the core. I know what you mean. I know you care about me, and you're paying attention. Those things are all exactly the same in relationships, or when the relationships are enacted in musical form. There's awareness, there's intention, there's acceptance, and there's connection. Then you've got love, and you've got people who you love to play with. That's why it's all so fresh and alive, and it's not stuck.

Back in the old Rubisa Patrol days in the '70s, at one point Mark Isham
Mark Isham
Mark Isham
was getting into playing 45-minute trumpet solos. He admittedly wasn't sure that they were working, but he just wanted to try. People would say, "How do you let him do that? He's playing too long, and I don't want to hear it." I would say, "Go home, then. I accept that he's working that. And I don't even care whether it's any good or not. He's onto something; he cares about something. He has that leeway. I want him to do it." Why? Because he really wants to do it, and it intrigues him. And he's serious about it, and he will grow. Or he will see that it's not a good thing. But whatever it is, I'm into the process.

So this is that acceptance or the wide range, just like I want that for myself. If I'm playing with someone and it's like, "God, Art's just playing those same three notes no matter what happens," they know that I'm trying to find out something. And maybe I find out that it's stupid, and it doesn't work, and it wasn't a great idea, and it didn't help. But I can't find all that out without enacting it. So these things are the same in love, with my kids or anyone else. They go through these things; they have to find out by living. And I want them to find it out, rather than say, "Don't" or "It's bad" or "I don't like it." Who cares if I like it or if I think it's good? I believe in them. So it's this sense of trust that there's enough integrity and attraction. That's what the love is. I love how this guy plays, and even if he plays a certain way that I don't like, it's OK. There's room for that. I can grow past "I don't like it." That's my thing to deal with, so it doesn't shut the music down. Same with the audiences—it's like, "God, you're going through this funny phase in this band!" It's like, "Hang with it! Or you can go home."

That's what I think trust is. Trust is like: I know what you are; I know what we are. So you have a really wide range that you can do, that I'm cool with. Like, infinite. That's true even if I don't get it. If I don't get it, maybe I'll figure it out another time. Or maybe you're just off. So that's how music and love relate.

I think that with this whole thing of bandleaders and people's own music, of trying to get people to play your music in a certain way, then these things narrow: "Well, that doesn't fit my concept of my piece," or "That doesn't fit my concept of the band," or "I want you playing more like that," or "This piece needs you to do that." I might say something like, "You might try this," or "I think if we play a little softer on this piece, it might be more powerful." But maybe I'm wrong—I feel even humble about that. So it's a forum for me; it's not a bandleader thing. Even if it's my tune, I'm willing to find out something, and I'm playing with these people because I trust that they have a point of view that can enrich me. So even if I would say something about the music, at the same time, I want them to tell me something I don't know about that piece or even that I don't really understand about the band.

Again, back to Rubisa, when saxophonist Bruce Williamson and Isham started bringing their synthesizers to the gig, suddenly the band got wildly electric, and that was kind of surprising. People would say, "Well, that's not your band! Your band is this other thing." But the band is alive, and this is what the guys in the band are into, so that's what happening. Even the bassist had to kind of stop playing with us for a while because it was too overwhelming. And then it changed. But it's not like, "No! It can't be like that!" It's like, "We'll figure it out. Let's work with it and see what happens."

So to find out things through living them, this is connected with your relationship with the people you love, rather than controlling your comfort zone or your ideas of what works and doesn't work or good and bad. That's not a good basis for love. To me, that's harder. It's harder if the only way that you feel I'm OK is for me to do things in the way you're totally comfortable with. But if we have basic affinity, then the palette gets really wide. That's how music and love connect for me.

Selected Discography

Art Lande/Dave Peterson, Polar Opposites (Self Produced, 2011)
Peter Sommer/Art Lande, Sioux Country (Tapestry, 2006)
Nguyên Lê, Walking on the Tiger's Tail (ACT, 2005)
Rosalba Bentivoglio/Paul McCandless/Art Lande, Taja (Aleph [Italy], 2001)
Art Lande, Friday the Thirteenth (Vartan Jazz, 1996)
Russian Dragon Band, When Kentucky Was Indiana (Synergy Music, 1994)
Meg Ryan/Art Lande, Red Riding Hood & Goldilocks (Rabbit Ears/Windham Hill, 1990)
Paul McCandless, Hearsay (Windham Hill, 1988)
Mark Isham/Art Lande, We Begin (ECM, 1987)
Art Lande/David Samuels/Paul McCandless, Skylight (ECM, 1981)
Gary Peacock, Shift in the Wind (ECM, 1980)

Art Lande/Jan Garbarek, Red Lanta (ECM, 1979)
Art Lande and Rubisa Patrol, Desert Marauders (ECM, 1977)
Art Lande, Rubisa Patrol (ECM, 1976)

Photo Credits

Page 2 (With Funko Moderno): Courtesy of Funko Moderno

All Other Photos: Courtesy of Art Lande
Art Lande
Art Lande


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