GUEST POST: Jeff Gauthier on Synchronicity

We are extremely excited to be able to present a guest post from musician/producer/label operator Jeff Gauthier. Jeff — in addition to having a superlative first name — has a new album (see below), just out on his Cryptogramophone label. He recently co-produced the latest Angel City Jazz Festival, and followed up on that by herding a number of his favorite West Coast musicians into The Stone in NYC’s East Village. Gauthier, in fact, is in the middle of presenting a two-week run of Crypto- and Crypto-friendly bands at The Stone. Do check it out if you are nearby! Over to Jeff…

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Quartet Music
Window on the Lake
9 Winds : 1986

Jeff Gauthier, violin; Nels Cline, acoustic guitar; Eric von Essen, bass; Alex Cline, drums, percussion.

The Jeff Gauthier Goatette
Open Source
Cryptogramophone : 2011

JG, violin; John Fumo, trumpet; Nels Cline, guitar; David Witham, piano, keyboards; Joel Hamilton, bass; Alex Cline, drums, percussion.

Synchronicity in Music

As co-producer of the Angel City Jazz Festival, I worked for months with drummer/percussionist Alex Cline to help realize his dream of an all-star re-imagining of The Art Ensemble of Chicago’s landmark 1969 recording People in Sorrow, as part of the 2011 festival.  In order to place the project in context and pay tribute to its composer, we decided to present Roscoe Mitchell’s trio on the same bill at Disney Hall’s REDCAT Theater in LA, and turn the event into an homage to this influential musician currently in residence at Mills College in Oakland.  By sheer coincidence, the week of the event I found Destination: Out’s vodka-induced posting about the original recording of People In Sorrow. That’s synchronicity for you.  Everything about the production of that Angel City concert felt like it was the right thing at the right time, and the D:O posting just confirmed this.

Almost all of the musicians we had envisioned for the project, including Oliver Lake, Vinny Golia, Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, Mark Dresser, Dwight Trible, and many others were available for the concert — 14 musicians in all. And even though Alex’s twin brother Nels wasn’t available to fill the guitar chair (ably filled by G. E. Stinson), Nels took a leading role in the show’s production by helping to promote our Kickstarter campaign.  He was the main cheerleader for the event, and his presence was felt throughout the whole process.

Having played with both Cline brothers for nearly 35 years, I can attest to the fact that synchronicity occurs on the micro as well as the macro level in music, and is very much a part of the twin experience.  I first noticed it when I was very young, playing in the ensemble Quartet Music with Nels, Alex, and bassist Eric von Essen. QM was a collectively led band that mostly played compositions by Eric and Nels, but group  improvisation was very much a part of the equation.  Often the improvs would break down into duo or trio features, and whenever Nels and Alex improvised together, it was a mind-blowing experience to hear the same ideas emerge from these two amazing musicians at the very same time. Of course, some of this could have come from their having grown up together listening to the same music, and playing together since the age of 5, but the twin thing is much more than that and must be recognized as such. (Maybe the Ferbers and other musical twins can weigh in on this.)

Often, playing in an ensemble with these guys feels like catching a wave of synchronicity. We were all in our mid 20s when we started Quartet Music, but the band worked together for almost 12 years. Sadly, the four recordings we made for 9 Winds and Delos are all out of print, but I hope to re-release some of them on Cryptogramophone one day. Nels and Alex have continued playing in my band, The Jeff Gauthier Goatette, for almost 20 years, and the synchronicity never ceases to amaze me. Because of his touring schedule, Nels can’t play live with us very often, but he flew into LA for the recording of our new album Open Source on Crypto, so the synchronicity continues.

Now that the Angel City Jazz Festival is over for this year, I’ve moved on to the next project, which is to bring a multitude of Cryptogramophone artists into The Stone in NY during the first two weeks of November.  I wish I could say Cryptonights at The Stone felt as synchronistic as People in Sorrow, but bringing West Coast musicians to the East Village is a bit like herding cats.  Neither Nels nor Alex could make it this time around, nor could some of Crypto’s other luminaries like Bennie Maupin or Jenny Scheinman. However this opened the door for some of our other stars to step forward, artists like Scott Amendola and Charlie Hunter, Bill Barrett, Gregg Bendian, Tim Berne, Michael Dessen, The Eclipse Quartet, Erik Friedlander, Ken Filiano, Ben Goldberg, Vinny Golia and Sylvie Courvoisier, Motoko Honda and Jesse Gilbert, Yuka Honda, Steuart Liebig, Denman Maroney, Myra Melford, Trio M (Melford, Mark Dresser & Matt Wilson), Todd Sickafoose, David Witham, and Zeena and the Adorables.

While most of the artists performing at The Stone are featured on Cryptogramophone’s 45-album catalog, several appear out of my desire to include my musical family and other influential members of the West Coast creative community.  The series opens with bassist Steuart Liebig and woodwind player Vinny Golia, and ends with bassist Ken Filiano, three of the first musicians I met and worked with in my mid 20s in LA.  While Vinny appears on several Crypto CDs, he is also the founder of 9 Winds records, the influential West Coast label that has produced many landmark recordings.

Since the Clines couldn’t make it for Cryptonights at the Stone, I decided to book the Eclipse String Quartet (Tzadik and Bridge recording artists), one of the West Coast’s premier new music ensembles, which also happens to include my wife, Maggie Parkins, on cello, and her twin sister Sara Parkins on violin. I also booked my sister-in-law Zeena Parkins, and Nels’ wife Yuka Honda. Nepotism, or synchronicity…you decide.  Either way, it’s going to be one hell of a two week run at The Stone.

Category guest posts, Jeff Gauthier Tags