Something's Happening Here: LA's New Music Scene
Reedman Jason Mears echoes that sentiment: “I came to LA because I was tired of living in Boston, kind of a stick in the mud feeling. A friend was going to go to school at CalArts so I decided to come out west with him. It turned out to be a really great decision. Almost immediately I was playing with incredibly creative people. Vinny Golia and Wadada Leo Smith really opened up my world. Kind of an extreme readjustment at how to look at things: music, life, everything really.”
Eisenstadt adds, “Adam Rudolph has been an extremely supportive, and we play together a lot. Adam is an amazing music thinker, an incredible rhythm conceptualist, and beautiful guy. Adam helped me find a way to travel to Gambia to study Mandinka drumming last year. Alex Cline has been so generous with his time and insights as well. I go over to his house and we spend an afternoon talking and listening to music and I’m always blown away by his insights. He has experience so much and can recount his experiences with in such detail. Stuart Liebig has been a major source of inspiration as a composer and improviser. Talk about prolific!”
Trumpeter Kris Tiner took a more circuitous route: “I grew up in the Central Valley. Through junior high and high school I absorbed almost the whole history of jazz (all I did was listen to music), and I spent major, major portions of that time first with Louis Armstrong, then Miles, then Coltrane, then Cecil Taylor, among many others. The music was inseparably part of my growing up...it was like seeing the whole history of jazz unfold. I always wanted to hear what was next, ‘what came after that?’ At a certain point (and I was playing music pretty regularly by then) I became aware of the current movements in the music involving the downtown New York scene-William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Rob Brown, Joe Morris, Roy Campbell, those guys. They were the first ones whose records I could get hold of. I figured I wanted to do whatever it took to get to New York and find these people. Until I went there. No way, no way could I live like that. No way could I deal with this bleak, dark, dirty, anonymous city life. I came back and that’s when I really began to appreciate my lifestyle out here. I found where I was coming from (i.e., little Central Valley farm town). I found a real peace in my music, began to concentrate, appreciate the slowness of things, read and study philosophy and religion and look at how people like myself have viewed the world, historically speaking. And I began writing very slow, very dramatic music to improvise within. And I finally decided that I wanted to find out who was out here on the West Coast playing creative music-who could I find to do this stuff with?
“The first person I met was Wadada Leo Smith. I discovered Leo by reading an article about him in one of the jazz magazines, and found he lived out here. Then, exactly two days later I was at the IAJE conference in Anaheim listening to this critical debate when I heard someone's trumpet blasting in the next room-Leo was playing duo with I think John Bergamo on frame drum. So I went over there and knew this was the man, the number one man I had to hook up with. Blew my damn mind. After his concert I went right up and got his number.
“So I studied with Leo privately for almost three years before entering his MFA program at CalArts, and that was two years ago. He has been without a doubt my highest influence, my favorite musician in the world, and as it is for anyone who studies with him, he challenges you to examine yourself as you examine your music, and you know you must pursue a knowledge of the deeper, deepest dimensions of this music if you are at all going to be successful or have any longevity with it.
“And no one playing this music in this town can say that they have not been influenced by Vinny Golia. He’s the acknowledged godfather of this scene. We all look up to him for his experience and his leadership. We are all made better musicians by his willingness to share what he knows. Jeff Kaiser has been very helpful to me, we have a great friendship going back many years.”