Eric Zinman's Excellent European Adventures

Chris Rich By

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Eric Zinman goes to Europe each year on his own dime for a varying array of shoe string gigs with people who mean a lot to him as colleagues. He usually works with Mario Rechtern and people from a community in Vienna that includes expatriate, Linda Sharrock.

His most recent trip was especially gratifying as he is pleased to inform us.

"For the first time Mario and I, with help from friends, were able to form a couple of truly international groups that can change the situation from my perspective by setting aside the heroic repetition, the mannered revision, the cult of the personality and the removal of politics from the music etc...(basically everything that kills an art form)."

"So I began my tour in Paris at Babilo which fortunately got a new piano that sounded good. Itaru Oki trumpet (Japan), Mario Rechtern alt, sopno, bar saxs and pumpkin violin (Austria), Yoram Rossillio Contrabass (Mor), Makoto Sato drums (Japan), Linda Sharrock voice (US) and Eric Zinman piano (US)."

"Itaru and Makoto have been on the Parisian scene I believe since the 70's. They both worked also with Alan Silva, who has been a major influence there, not just his bass playing but also piano and synth playing."

"We made a recording in a nearby studio where I was staying. It was made more in the old fashioned way of doing recordings in a column which I really liked and has a great psychedelic pathos to it that I associate with some of the best records in my life, not just in "so called jazz" but other music from the 50's and 60's that we've heard."

"Particularly in terms of not having the recording too clean but allowing the circumstances to dictate how you mix it and then emphasizing those qualities in the mix rather than to be so concerned with the perfection of each instrument so you can hear thick layers of sound that seem to wrap around each other."

"I felt this in many recordings I've heard over the years. This will come out on a label called IB Improvising Beings, France as a double CD and I think it may be the best recording I have ever been involved with thanks to the engineer and Julien Palomo as well."

"From Paris we rode together in a bus to Amsterdam. We got lost and it took 3 times longer than we thought and this stressed Linda Sharrock who is in a fragile situation with her health. I let the cat out of the bus by accident twice, once when I got up to pee in the middle of the night and slept uncomfortably across the front seats."

"The next morning we saw that the water pump was leaking water and the tour was over. However Onno Govaert and the band from Norway called Ape Club were very kind and picked us up in their cars and van and we were off to perform in Den Haag at a squatter cafe/bar called the Astronoom Centrum."

"This is of course run by volunteers. There is political art everywhere and books for sale. I owe it all to pianist Leo Svirsky who organized the concert. People were very nice, they cheered and screemed. This concert was videoed, and reviewed by Willem Minderhout in Dutch and English. You can view it on you tube."

"With the bus down our tour was over so I had to continue on my own to meet Mario with another group later in Vienna, I stayed with Burton Greene on his boat for a couple days and then took a train to Basel, Switzerland where I played with drummer Samuel Duhsler, a very fine percussionist."

"Several musicians loaned me a Korg professional keyboard and a Fender Rhodes which was very nice. In Switzerland, life is good with opportunity and good treatment. Switzerland was the only country where I sold CD's. My host was extremely fair and we were well received by his friends."

"We played at the Music Palace, which was a building in a diverse neighborhood in Basel. There were many children on the streets in the neighborhood and musicians teach in the building. It's a very good less formal way, where the teachers play with the children, just the right way to learn. The audience was very warm and appreciative."

"I took a train to Vienna where I rested for a couple days at Mario's apartment and played in a club called Fluc with Mario Rechtern (A) alt, sopno, bar, Markus Krispell (A) alto, Jaspar Stadhouders (NE), guitar and Onno Govaert (NE) drums."

"It was a tough audience but they liked us, a wild loud show, always dinner and good general treatment. These days solo and duet electronic is perhaps more popular in some ways but they screamed. On a side note, the music they are calling jazz was totally politically raped so that it no longer had any politics in it. Maybe this is why I have been brought more into playing with musicians who have played in different punk and Indy bands as well as they are often VERY political in their songs, etc."

"A day later we played in Graz which is the main city in Styria, Austria. We played for a theater forum in a beautiful building of metal and glass inside a state park made for the arts with many rooms. I could see a fountain out the window where I played my keyboard."

"I used a Nord with three modules in Netherlands. Here I was offered an old Yamaha Electric Upright which had to be assembled and disassembled but was really nice. This concert and the one in Den Haag can be found on YouTube. They were a theater group in Graz. There seem to be visiting artists often there from other countries and different mediums at work. The beer and cider were wonderful, pizza for dinner."

"The group had a meeting about local issues in the park, authority and public drinking and other issues that involve state observers. All in German so I did not understand much. Half the audience left during our show, but the people who stayed loved us and we went out for more drinks afterward and talked about many interesting things."

"Sometimes people in the country know that they are provincial so their attitude is more open than Vienna and much more friendly. we had nice beds and sheets in a large room upstairs and we could still see the park, so beautiful. In the morning we had fresh juice, coffee, a basket of many different rolls in different shapes and yogurt and muesli and more talk and fun and then a ride back to Vienna."

"I then took a plane a day later to Amsterdam and hung out with some friends for a few days before I flew back to Boston. Burton took me to a club in Amsterdam where I think I saw some of the finest musicians in the Netherlands. Half the band are expatriates. They were not being paid at all. It was Steve Galloway's birthday and they were playing his charts to celebrate with him."

"They are a little like Count Basie, but wilder lines that would cross more and a real punch. Steve, like Burton Greene is from Chicago and they are old friends. I met trumpet player Charlie Green, also from the US who is incredible like Cootie Williams or anything else that the trumpet can do."

"It was beautiful. It was not the most adventurous stuff, but extremely beautiful and soulful playing and singing. you could not have paid for a better show, at least in Amsterdam, and this was free. Steve and some other Americans were joking about New York going under water while the Netherlands will always be here."

"I don't say that Europe is necessarily better, but often I think of Susan Sontag saying the only place she would live in the US is New York, however I'm content to live in Boston and move around in search of OPENNESS INTERCHANGE MIGRATION."

Mr. Zinman also graciously agreed to share a few thoughts on Boston by way of comparison.

"Regarding the Boston Scene:"

"There is usually a desire for musicians to play in a place they deem to have "public character." This can easily be achieved through a living room as currently witnessed internationally. Many of the groups that played the bigger festivals even more commercial groups also did living room or salon concerts during their tours."

"These places had public character as well and did also in the 60's. Recent organizations that say they are helping the music, the creative economy etc... are actually hurting the music by placing it next to a kitchen and expecting the music to perform in that situation or reject it because their priority, whether or not stated, are the schools and universities of the area. 'Musicians' in Boston means 'musicians from the legitimate stage.'"

"The problem with venues, especially those that you pay to rent, is if the venue is not excited about the music you are doing there, no personal reception, then really why should people come to see it?"

"If the person who organizes and promotes the space doesn't consider your work special in that way, then why should you play there? Obviously the situation is often gray. But it's worth thinking about.

"In Boston I tried to stay in the arts by working with other mediums and even writing more. Cambridge is more of a literary town. While I've tried and I always believed there was a potential to present creative music in Boston and exhibit in a series where some people would for the first time hear work that has been developing in Boston in the last 30 years and more, there was also a defeat by academic entanglements, exclusive relationships, favors, social engagements, race, aesthetic superiority alliances and accessibility fear in organizers of public and community spaces. All which make Boston and Cambridge very provincial, poor cities despite it being the land of education."

"Academic is often not intellectual. It's often about making do and inviting your friends. Just ask the people at Harvard who edit the Norton Anthology. I think music, like all the arts, requires OPENNESS INTERCHANGE and MIGRATION in order to be heard. In these words I am trying to address something that other musicians might relate to because I don't think I am the only one that believes this."

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