1977 | vernal equinox
I DID THIS, my first record, in Toronto
in a basement studio at York University where my friend,
I had left New York a year or two before after a buncha trouble—long marriage sputtering to a close in the wake of a new young "fourth world girlfriend", fallout from the lingering coca-haze following a wild trip to Venezuela and Colombia...
...and a demonstration of how long I could hang onto the 9th floor window ledge of my apartment at Westbeth when she tried to leave (earning me a 2 week stay in lovely St. Vincents—not the island—with the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
...found a little glass-front loft in Otto Preminger's old beach house where—in the few hours left over from creating tableaux vivantes from imaginary books with the words "Malibu" and "Sex" in the titles—
...wearing out the pause button while listening phrase-by-phrase to the one lesson that Pran Nath had allowed me to record:
The raga "Tilang" is all I played for 2 or 3 years, trying to get those vocal curves first on the mouthpiece then sticking it into the horn while blowing so I could trick myself into singing with my lips and try not to lapse into bugle mode.
I thought about the sound of the conch shell that was blown every night in the temple in Dehra Dun to call the neighborhood kids to the evening ceremony called Arti and about how it was like the sound of The First Trumpet...
and I eventually started to hold the horn differently so I could get that feel. In Malibu I was playing over electronic drones (tuned to Pran Nath's fundamental tone, Sa = 256Hz) that played the tambura role and the invitation to Toronto was a chance to workshop some of the music ideas which were beginning to form and to take advantage of the University studio.
While I was there, my beloved old dog, lil' pup, died nearing 20 and while I was on mushrooms during the recording I remember so clearly that I was talking to him and saying goodbye during the piece called 'Blues Nile' which I named for him because he looked so much like an Egyptian dog. And because I was so blue.
During a snowfall in deep NY Winter after the sunshine of Malibu. The sound of dispair (but also reminds of the harmonized trumpet... here a perfect 5th).
Played unconventional tabla on the record. A composer-performer and now Dean of Music at California Institute for the Arts.
Met in Toronto. In later concerts I began using him doing onstage mixing, live looping (a first, I think) of trumpet, some guitar. After I introduced him to Brian Eno, he moved to UK to set up Eno’s video installations, did a record or two, became associated with Peter Gabriel, became a producer of world music artists like Salif Keita.
Westbeth, the artists’ building on West Street, home to Gil Evans, video artist Nam Jun Paik, photographer Diane Arbus—one of several suicides of artists from the building. Blessedly, I was exempted from that list.
The one that looks like the Sphinx. The young sprout intent on chewing is his son, Beeper, also dear to me and my companion through the next 15 years.
That’s me barely visible on the right with LaMonte singing and his wife Marian Zazeela’s slowly morphing projected patterns on and around us performed by my “fourth world” girlfriend.
I felt very close to Nana and his wife Merrie Robin. That was a hard time for money for us all. Whenever I’d call Nana to do something he’d always say in his adorable Brazilian accent, “How many thousand?”.