Tree Assassins and Cesspool Junkies
Upon this land came a seething and horribly misguided force that divorced itself from natural reason and both embraced and vehemently taught fear and greed as a way of life, gradually yet quite rapidly instilling in all those denuded of their abilities to think for themselves, a way of death. This force hit quickly, ravaged at breakneck speed, and continues to hurry itself to its own well-earned demise.
Yet this land, and its aware and interconnected living organisms, continue to live, thrive and both find and express beauty amongst the mayhem. These emanations of love through sound, caring actions, kindness to the earth, empathy with all created things come from the heart, as does this music, and serves as a direct channel to that which is beyond words, beyond us and embraces the wonderful mystery of it all, in humility and amused awe.
It is indeed absurd, that which is happening all around, and laughter is a sound and resonance tool of great power in and of itself. Through music and laughter, love and immersion in the ways of the natural world there is an open door to freedom, that place where you can be who you truly are, and be that with others, as they are with you.
We are free to unhurriedly be Tripolar, without fretting, or having seething desires as the trees of our youth continue to be annihilated and we are surrounded by an increasing horde that seem intransient addicts of cesspool level modalities of existing, we play on, we play on we will play on in hope, healing intention and good fun.
From the liner notes for:
John Lindberg’s Tripolar
[A]live at Roulette, NYC
Weighing Feathers, Measuring the Earth
On a summer’s afternoon, circa 1990, standing under a huge oak tree in the shadows of the resplendent Harvey Fite landscape sculpture known as Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY, this duet forged its distinct identity in a most spectacular and seemingly unimaginable fashion.
We had begun our journey as musical co-creators some dozen or so years earlier, already having worked in varied ensembles together, as well as our duet formation.
It was a strange gig from the get-go. Somehow we had been booked for this afternoon performance, but I’m quite sure neither of us were aware that it was actually some sort of social event where ambient live music was wanted, rather than a focused concert. We, of course, persisted nonetheless.
Under that gigantic, magnificent oak tree, we played our hearts out for about an hour and a half, with hardly anybody actually listening to us, other than for a furtive minute or two as they walked past on their way to the punch bowl or snack trays.
They may not have listened, but they certainly heard. That part was not optional, we made sure of that. And as we were making absolutely sure of just that, I noticed them for the first time.
Green inchworms. Geometridae. At first what seemed like just a few, here and there, dropping sporadically from above, then gradually increasing into a veritable onslaught. Eventually, it was essentially raining inchworms on us. We simultaneously became aware of the phenomenon occurring, stolen smiles were exchanged between us, as we played on, resolutely.
Upon ultimately striking the final note of our performance, followed by scattered and scant applause from those still milling about the sculpture park (and seemingly oblivious to our inchworm plight), we looked at one another’s now sweat-drenched faces, and began to chortle.
“Wadada, you have green inchworms crawling all over you in your hair, going down into your shirt, just all over you, man!”
“John, they are all over you too, man your hair is full of them too, they’re on your ears, crawling inside your bass, everywhere!”
Yet, you see, we never paused, or wavered, from our intense focus of creativity during the performance simply sheer grit and determination from beginning to end, come what may, we played our soaring hearts out, as that is the only way we know how to play.
Thus, with our previously established substantive artistic and personal connection becoming fully forged at this juncture, we moved forward — as astutely conscious interconnected creative beings — into the future of so much more great music and friendship, to be heard and felt for all eternity.
Battle Creek, MI
From liner notes for:
Wadada Leo Smith & John Lindberg
Blue Collar creation of acoustic instrumentals is an intensive mode of manual labor, coming from the pencil and paper point of compositional design.
Born in an urban ruin — it wasn’t then, but has become that now. Detroit Osteopathic Hospital, March, 1959. As pictured, in November, 2015. Creative resurrection arises from the ruins, and this album is birthed from a distinctly post-industrial rust belt aesthetic, which is within every note and sound on this record. It’s survival, it’s endurance, it’s the spirit emerging forever triumphant.
Engaging with a Vermont roadside family-father, mother, adolescent daughter-selling their honey, syrup, and cheese from their barn, touching to the core of the soul, not sure exactly why, but it was, and their home-wrought products were phenomenal. Where are they now? What has happened to us all in in the twenty-five years since that simple yet moving encounter? A triumvirate roadside family, a triumvirate musical family, now coming together in ways both known and unknown.
Benevolent Characters tend towards presenting work for the betterment and enrichment of others.
Wendell Harrison: Detroit master musician, friend and deeply appreciated colleague. We’ve shared great projects from duo to trio to quartet since the beginning of this century, and it is a sublime opportunity to have his musical voice prominently featured in this gritty, reverberant setting.
Kevin Norton: New York/New Jersey authentic artist, and as hard a working man as anyone could imagine. Also a friend and close colleague since this century’s dawn, we’ve engaged in a diversity of powerful projects. Previously spotlighted on the 2011 release, TriPolar, [A]live at Roulette, NYC, which included his great ode MC5, dedicated to the iconic Detroit-based band, he knows the way.
What a great challenge and exciting adventure to write an album of pieces specifically for these unique artistic personalities, and the chosen instruments that create the astounding sonic blend found here.
Building Cabin. The excavation of a South Dakota timber meadow, the subsequent pouring of a Wyoming cement “poundation” under truck headlights on a June night-the greatest performance art ever experienced. Workers that literally hammered away in the most raw and deliberate of ways, under a huge sky, far too big to comprehend, just to be viewed in awe, as should be. The memories of all that was put into motion that night reverberates throughout all this music. Incredible.
Bold Crystallization brings together those with diverse backgrounds and ways of being into a unified whole to make a compelling statement.
Witnessing, yet again, the devastation of vegetation as wrought by humans and their machines, the obliteration of the earth’s very soul. The only healthy response seemed to be to compose melodies, many melodies. Counter the destructive forces running amok with construction of the lyrical, floating freely.
Bending Clarity like sheet metal workers do, forging the proper construction of lines and edges, creates strength with flexibility.
Bonanza Collections aimed at scooping up every last scrap from the explosion of heartfelt notes, chords, rhythms, textures and sounds exuded, mixing this gem with that one, this surprising discovery with that error gone right (to the heart of the matter). Eagles swooping deep for their own birthright to be exercised, swooping just deep enough, and they’re all deep, each and every swoop.
Bold Creativity. Even a thrice broke and shattered left wrist can’t stop that. No way. The left wrist. Strength. More than one could ever imagine. Roy Campbell’s beautiful brass fanfares of expressivity and vigor. Never forget that strength. Remember and honor it. It sounds for all eternity, right along with the emanations of his deep and searing humanity of purpose and empathy. In full gratitude.
Now that’s it. Let’s move on. There’s so much more to get to.
Battle Creek, Michigan
From the liner notes for:
John Lindberg BC3
Born in an Urban Ruin
Clean Feed Records
Music is mystery. To be left unsolved, yet fully absorbed.
Clues can be tantalizing, even deeply intriguing, as long as they lead to no specifically cerebral conclusions.
So, Raptor Trio soars, delivering musical messages that emanate from the heart, while reaching out to listeners and observers in a visceral manner, offering a journey that is earthbound and nature inspired, while equally engendering flights into the ether and that which is beyond all understanding, while entrenched in deep emotional expression.
Smothered in a drunken sun of the southland
wondering if the
Straight game has finally
Caught the blame
For all the flame which is within
Yet nowhere near yet extinguished
It is the outcome of the extraordinary synthesis of two friends since they were both sixteen years old — four decades of musical and extra — musical connection for John and Pablo — combined with the stellar artistry offered by our first musical meeting with Joe.
A west coast aesthetic expressed though a lens of vast collective international experience, Raptor Trio creates a particular type of open sky for unfettered flights of baritone, bass, and drums interaction — riding the thermals, unimpeded, free and majestic, yet with clear direction and vision, living life to its fullest.
Having prominently featured Pablo’s baritone on Trilogy of Works for Eleven Instrumentalists in 1984, this album additionally focuses a spotlight onto his original compositions.
His Ashoka is a splendid opening to this album, creating a group conversation underpinned with rolling depth while allowing for magical exits of sonic expansion along the clearly structured melodic and harmonic pathways.
The Great Escape allows for the three artists to do just that — make a wondrous breakout into a richly colored world of sound where melody, harmony and rhythm are textured in a spare yet decidedly ample manner.
Rumble Paint balances a variously hued scheme for baritone and bass both against and with, a broad and brilliant drumming exploration by Joe, creating a dynamic and forceful sound picture.
Bright full moon shining over the yellow glow of a mountain morning sunrise makes one ponder how man has made even this image sterilized and polluted by running the vehicles and tick-tock clocks under and around it, non-stop.
How can one fly straight like a crow when the mind bends and bounces like a rubber ball off a set of four brick walls, well it can’t be but amazing the resolve that can be taken to make it look so, be so … whoa now …
A set of works, old and new, was chosen by the other composer represented here, further illuminating both the connection of longevity, and exhilaration of exciting new western adventures.
Ethereal Extensions explores a floating counterpoint and the keen listening that is essential with a wide canvas format, in creation of an environment of wonder and beauty. The dedication to the enduring soaring soul of Carleton Watkins, his shimmering beauty of brilliantly captured images of western nature, speaks to the very western edges that this album digs at, and with equal importance to the courage and creativity of this one-time boxcar dweller, and his enduring power to live on when so much was lost. And that was the key to the profound inspiration he offered us all, should we have ever cared to pay attention.
T’wixt D and E (then C and D) was something of an anthem of the 1970’s loft jazz era on New York City’s lower east side, of which John and Pablo were active contributors. This version contains the spirit of that now bygone historical era, while transcending it, in this particular evolution of the piece.
All right then, now the story further unfolds, but if we don’t comprehend the space of awareness of the all around, then most will be lost, and frankly, enough with the loss and losing already. It’s getting as boring as the fighting.
Raptors is a musical evocation of this tribe of birds that has served as vital inspiration and familial relation to the composer throughout his life. The sonic flight engaged in here by the trio highlights this special connection.
At Home is in effect the natural arrival point for the voyage this album exemplifies, containing a careful blending of the sonorities of the three instruments, and bringing us all, performers, listeners, and observers alike, to an apt resolution.
May the raptors forever soar.
Los Angeles, California
From the liner notes for:
John Lindberg Raptor Trio
Clean Feed Records