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Franklin Kiermyer: Joy And Consequence

Ian Patterson By

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AAJ: Returning specifically to Further There two versions of "Between Joy and Consequence," a live version and a studio version and you end the album with "The Other Blues" which is a pretty straight-ahead blues. Was this album, or at least the first six songs intended as a suite?

FK: No, but I think one could listen to it in that way. The choice of cuts and sequencing was part of Michael's [producer Cuscuna] input. "Between Joy and Consequence" opens and closes it—the first version live and the other a studio version. We decided to include the two versions because we couldn't decide which one was better and while they are somewhat different, we thought they both stood on their own.

It's also nice that one can hear us playing the same type of piece in studio and in front of an audience. Actually, they are both in the same studio, but the live version was performed for an audience of about 75 people. I'm pleased that it just feels like whenever we play it's live. After that, there's "The Other Blues"—the last song on the album. It's kind of like bringing it down to where the culture comes from—a blues. This was also live.

AAJ: The music is very intense for the most part; how difficult is it to play in such an intense manner and stay attuned to the harmonic and rhythmic elements going on?

FK: They're not separate things. I think you can hear this when you listen to music whose main goal is intensity. Usually it lacks the depth. It doesn't feel so honest or deep. I don't think that works. The intensity has to come from the soul, from the faith. Azar [Lawrence] would say the spirit, of passion, of love. If the intensity is artificial it doesn't really feel intense, it feels loud.

That said, people have listened to music that we might think is incredibly intense, passionate and beautiful, and thought that it just sounded angry to them. So, everybody hears what they hear. What happens when we play, and I'm smiling when I say this, you could describe as religious fervor, I suppose.

AAJ: Booth's bass playing on Further is felt deeply rather than heard as a more soloistic voice like some bass players these days. What can you tell us about his contribution?

FK: Juini is a master at making the bass of the music strongly felt. I hope that's not a lost art. I feel that his presence is so deep. He grew up with the music. He was in [drummer Art Blakey's] The Jazz Messengers when he was a teenager. He's on those early 1970s McCoy [Tyner] records. He was in [drummer] Tony William's Lifetime with [organist] Larry Young. He's played with everyone from Elvin Jones to Sun Ra. From my perspective that presence he brings is what bass is all about.

AAJ: You're releasing Further on your own label, right?

FK: Yes. Further is released on my label, Mobility Music and it's released as digital-only. Anyone can have this album for free as MP3s or for a contribution as high resolution files. As a matter of fact, not only can you can get the CD quality 44.1kHz/16bit .wav files, but you can also get the original masters at 96kHz/24bit, which is of course what I would prefer everybody to listen to because that's the closest to what we actually did. They are the actual masters.

I like this model and we'll see how well it works out. If you are so moved as to consider making a contribution, you can have the best quality of what we made and your contribution will help me go even further. I make the promise that I will do my best to go even further. This may sound idealistic or Marxist, [laughs] but let's none of us be middlemen anymore. Let's all be primary contributors. Let's share what we can and help to further what we think is useful and important. That's what this is about.

The reason for doing it in this way is that I want to share this music with as many people as possible, to develop relationships with those that will benefit from this music and then go and perform for them wherever they are.

AAJ: This method of free download on a pay-what-you-think-its-worth basis is becoming more and more common. Maybe it means that jazz/creative music is not really commercially viable and maybe it means that the live gig is becoming more and more central to musician's livelihoods; how important are gigs for you in making a living?

FK: Live performance has been the way people make most of their living in this music for a long time and in the rare case a 'jazz' album sells well, it's not usually the artist that gets the money anyhow. More importantly, live performance is what this is about. It's about sharing this music live and it's also how this music is made. It can only be made live. It's great to make recordings, but a performance is being there together and making something happen. That's what this is all about. That's how this music works.

Throughout the history of this music very few musicians have made money off of record sales and it's always been with records that appeal to, if not cater to, a more commercial audience. Certainly in the last ten or fifteen years hardly any musicians have made any money from records.

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