2013 is off to to a flying start!
This is a really special album for me – Accidentally (On Purpose) feels like a high point, a new level if you will, for where my improvised music world is going. Daniel’s sound-world is unlike that of anyone I’ve ever played with before, and unusually for a musician as melodically adept as he is, he spends a lot of the album creating space for me to be tuneful in… there’s a lot of bass melody stuff in here. A lot of slide, and it heavily features an AMAZING Modulus TBX 6 string bass that I was gracious loaned by the guys at Modulus for the tour. I fell in love with it, and you can hear it most prominently on the title track.
Each of the four tracks go on really far-reaching journeys, and end up nowhere near where they started. The ease of those transitions feels like a development of some of the things I learned through playing with Mike Outram on Invenzioni. In fact, these last three duo records are probably best thought of as a set, as a statement of where I’m up to with this collaborative improv stuff (and there’s lots more to come with Daniel, Mike and Andy Williamson too!)
The first of that ‘lots more’ is that Daniel and I have a house concert tour in California starting in just over a week! All the dates are on my gigs page, and they range from Orange County right up to north of San Francisco. I really hope that those of you in California can come out to a show or two, and that those of you not in California can point your West Coast friends in our direction! See my Gigs Page for all the details.
For now, here’s the essay that I wrote to accompany the album. I really hope you enjoy it – it’s available to download from Bandcamp, for as little as £3, or more if you feel it’s worth it.
In my music-life thus far, there have been a number of collaborators who have proved to be far easier to work with than perhaps any musical relationship should be… Three of those are already on record – Jez Carr, Theo Travis and Mike Outram – and now, Daniel Berkman.
The difference with Daniel is that we had little idea who each other were before the first gig. An amazing mutual friend, to whom we shall both be forever indebted, suggested that we play together. We met at the soundcheck of the first of two sessions that were planned, and fully expected to play a solo set each followed by some kind of improvised collaboration at the end.
The soundcheck, such as it was, suggested otherwise. For in the process of plugging everything in and making sure it was all working, we fell into the kind of musical dialogue that made it very clear solo sets would be a bit of a wasted opportunity. So over the next two nights we played about 2 hours of improvised music.
Improvising is, I often find, even more fun when you have no clue at all how your musical collaborator is making the noises they are making. With Daniel’s on-stage set-up looking like something out of the Fifth Element – all pointy chrome and unusual instruments – it was left to my ears to make sense of he was doing. Which is where that most valuable of improv currencies kicks in – trust. I instinctively knew that whatever I did, he’d make it sound better. I’ve said before many times that that’s my criteria for playing improvised music – a commitment to allowing the other person to turn my music into something bigger than I could ever have imagined. And vice versa – I throw myself into using the full range of my musical ideas and experience to build on their vision and see where we end up. It’s conversational, collaborative and hugely life affirming stuff.
I commented at the time that meeting Daniel and playing those two shows was a lot like falling in love – totally taken by surprise by the depth of connection and the level of communication possible between us on stage. It was an emotional ride, and one that has produced, I think, some of the finest music I’ve ever been blessed to be a part of.
So, thanks Daniel.