March 31, 2017

Meet the Band

We had our first rehearsal last Monday night. It was a bit rough, but that's always to be expected the first time through. Afterwards, I went home and re-wrote the timeline/chart we are using as a score, translating it into Portuguese and adding notes for each section to clarify/solidify the ideas we discussed in rehearsal.

Last night was the second rehearsal, and with the new chart things went much better. The band members now have a clearer understanding of what happens in each section, so they can focus more on playing and less on trying to remember what they are supposed to do. I'm quite confident that with two more rehearsals they will have it all worked out.

The musicians are all really nice folks who are making a serious effort on this crazy piece. Some of them play jazz, but I don't think most are very experienced with this kind of improvisation, so it's maybe a bit of a stretch for some of them. But they are open-minded and enthusiastic, which counts for a lot. Also, the sections of the piece that refer to traditional Azorean music are working out great because they have that stuff in their blood. I really appreciate their willingness to make the time for this, rearrange their work schedules, stay out late on work nights, etc. – for the sake of the experience, and no pay. Yet another example of Azorean generosity!

BUSTED! L-R: José Medeiros (trombone), Gianna De Toni (bass), Carlos Miguel Mendes (tenor sax), Luís Senra (tenor sax), Carlos Medeiros Carlos (clarinet), Nuno Carreiro (trumpet)

In other good news, I was able to re-make the opening sequence of the piece. It starts out with the bubbling thermal mud pits at Furnas. But when I was there before it was in summer and very crowded, and I didn't get such good recordings because of all the human noise, so that section was shorter than I would like, felt like it ended before it really got going. But the other day we made a field trip and went to Furnas around 8 PM when there was almost nobody there, so I was able to make some new recordings and used those to make a longer opening sequence. It only adds about 40 seconds to the piece, but I think it's a stronger beginning, a bit more "primal."

Also on that field trip we visited a tea plantation where I encountered many goats, who love to walk between the rows of tea plants scratching their sides along the plants as they go. After all of our recording adventures we ate some fish in Porto Formoso, a very sweet little town on the beach.

Here's a video by my housemate/fellow resident artist Robin Parmar that gives a taste of that day's field trip.

Three Dances from Robin Parmar on Vimeo.