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Mark Feldman: Taking an Eclectic Path

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AAJ: It's a little more pared down, some of the sections.

MF: We cut out some excess baggage. But we have some repertoire that goes way back there for sure, but we got some new stuff too.

AAJ: Is that something you'll do often, revisit older material and put it in new context?

Mark Feldman (far right), with John Abercrombie Quartet



MF: I mean, a lot of it is, because I have such a bad work ethic, that I don't write enough new music so that I'm forced to go back and use the old music. But I only go back and use it if I really like it. I don't write a lot of tunes, but I think most of the ones I have recorded, it's because I was pretty committed and thought they were good. I'm not writing tons and then recording whatever. I tend to be the type of person that if I get a deadline, then I come up with something. And if I don't have a deadline, I tend to work on my playing, not so much on writing new music.

AAJ: So you still maintain a daily practice routine?

MF: I still practice, I still take the occasional violin lesson to keep my technique up and improve it. Yes, for sure.

AAJ: When you practice, do you practice specific things or just kind of play?

MF: I practice really, really, really basic things, like the most basic elements of playing: major scales, open strings, shifting. Really the basic things and then they apply to everything. Unless I have somebody's piece to learn which is hard, which happens, I practice really the basic stuff. It seems more and more important, the older I get...and I am getting older.

AAJ: Coming up in June, you'll be playing quite a bit in New York as co-curator [of The Stone].

MF: Yeah, that's different. I mean normally I play once a year at like Birdland with John Abercrombie and then a couple of things that John Zorn will do during the year. Once in a while I've had a gig at Merkin [Hall]. I'm playing with Sylvie, first we're doing a couple of duo sets at the Whitney Museum. There we're playing the music of another Swiss composer and conceptual artist, Christian Marclay. We're doing two pieces of Christian Marclay at the Whitney; they're having a big exhibition of his visual art and music [note: actually July 3rd & 4th, 2010].

AAJ: Is he still doing the turntable stuff?

MF: I have no idea. I don't know if he still does that, but this is more like he has artwork and scores, and we play the scores. Then we're playing in duo the 5th [of June, 2010, at The Stone]. On the 10th, I'm doing a duo with [bassist] Mike Formanek, which I did once in Italy; that was really fun.

AAJ: Because you played in his band way back also.

MF: Yeah, I played in his band and I've done other things with him.

AAJ: Is it going to be improvising?

MF: It's going to be really heavy on the improvising, but we'll have some pieces too. On the 12th, we're doing the new quartet. Then on the 14th and 15th, I go to Canada to play with a jazz flautist from Montreal that's got a little string section in his thing, and I lead the string section and play solos. His name is Francois Richard. Then I come back, and we do an older project of Sylvie's on the 19th, called Lonelyville, which was another Intakt record [2007] with [laptop artist] Ikue Mori. Then on the 26th, we do two sets of Masada String Trio, and John will be there conducting. Then July 1st, we go to Montreal Jazz Festival and do a Masada marathon. So I'm busy in June.

AAJ: With curating the program, did you have a lot of specific things in mind that you wanted to do, or was it just sort of which people were available?

MF: You know the problem is that afterward you always think, "Ahhh, I should have done more like this, and oh, I forgot this guy," and it's embarrassing because you forgot how many people you [know]. But I wanted to get some people: there are two violinists—one is really upcoming and very talented, named Scott Tixier, so I wanted to get him a gig; and then there's another one who's older, so I don't want to say he's "upcoming," but he's really talented and not maybe so known, named Zach Brock. Have you heard of him?

AAJ: I think I've heard the name, but I'm not really familiar with his music.

MF: He played in Stanley Clarke's trio, so he's gotten out there a little bit, but he's still not that well-known. So I wanted to get him on it. And then I wanted to get Hank Roberts on it. And then Sylvie wanted to present some pianists, which she did. Then the rest we just filled in with people that we knew, people we knew were good musicians.

AAJ: How long did it take to pull the schedule together?

MF: Oh, so fast. All you had to do was make a phone call. There's really not enough places to play, I guess. It's very easy to book a month there, once you get the list together and make the calls.

AAJ: You're presenting quite a nice range of different stuff then.

MF: I think so, I think it will [be].

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