EKozmic Renaissance interview
By DJ fly agaric 23
EKozmic Renaissance really tuck my mind on a trip when i went to see em perform the other wik in San Francisco. Innovation and patience were keyphrases. Kindness, openness and a friendly nature also seemed to saturate the entire evening. What a treat. I think this trio are incredible and i thank them for contributing their time and effort towards this innerview.
DJ fly agaric 23
[This Interview was email-conducted by Acrillic with the members of the San Francisco-based Jazz trio, Kosmic Renaissance, September 2005.]
Q."How did you come up with such a great name as Kosmic Renaissance.
(answer by Sameer)
As I recall, Kosmic Renaissance was the name that our friend, and at the time U.S. booker/manager, Charles Brack thought of. In the name of the group, I hear reference to time that has already happened, and time that is ahead of us, with us standing in the center. And since this music is "moment" music, I think the name is very fitting.
Q "For those unfamiliar with super afro koszmic jazz, can you please give us some prime phonograph cuts for hungry revolutionary turntable platters?"
(answer by David) Well, you have to check Sun Ra out because he is the reason we have super afro kosmic jazz. He's still a guiding light even though's he's no longer with us, physically speaking. Any of his records are a revelation but my personal favorites are Cosmos, Disco 3000, Cosmic tones for Mental Therapy, Astro Black, Antique Blacks, Lanquidity. any one of these is a great starting point. I think people should check out Alice Coltrane (universal consciousness) as well as her husband John, especially his later period, records like Stellar Regions, Interstellar Space, Live in Japan and Live at the Village Vanguard again. These two were playing a kind of music made for spiritual transcendence which i believe is the raison d'etre of so-called kosmic music. Hendrix is one of the most kosmically inclined cats to ever walk this plane so you have to check him out. no one manipulates sound, texture and feeling like Jimi. He's so special and really hasn't gotten the proper respect he should get as a creative spiritual musician.Ê Rahsaan Roland Kirk is another cat who seemed to be not of this physical plane.Ê Wayne Shorter (The All-Seeing eye, Super Nova and the early weather report records most notably Live in Japan), Miles Davis during his electric period although anything sound out of his horn speaks of the cosmos. There's so much of this music out there that once you decide to look for it , it will find you - this is what has happened to me.
(answer by Sameer)
Sure, you can grab tracks of KR at - music.download.com, or some examples of other kosmic music, I'm working on with D.Boyce, and other groups from sameergupta.com/mp3s.htm
The only advice I can give to those unfamiliar with kosmic music, is simple: just listen to it, give it your patience and enjoy the journey. The music is not about familiarity, rules, or things that you can anticipate. This music is about the experience of traveling through sound, groove, melody, and rhythm. It is not about the chorus, or the ending, or the hook, it's simply about the journey in it's totality. Some other artists that I would consider "kosmic" - Alice Coltrane, Miles Davis (Fillmore East/West band), Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, Jimi Hendrix w/ Band of Gypsys, Joe Henderson, Shakti, Wayne Shorter's new band.
(answer by Shingo) In our modern times when we think of "music", we automatically think five minute tracks with a catchy loop and a chorus. It was a pleasant discovery for me to know that there are dedicated musicians who embody the spirit of the kosmos and nature to express their feelings through tones and rhythms. Kosmic music has no beginning or end.
Q. "How would you best like to define time, and/or space".
(answer by Sameer) time and space are what you make of them.
(answer by David) time and space is the context of being we exist in, the fabric of life that embraces the sum totality of our collective consciousness.
(answer by Shingo) time and space are two axis (or axes) of existence that become complete when you, as the third element enter the equation.
Q. Who are your major influences both past and contemporary?"
(answer by David) My Mother and Father, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Eric Dolphy, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, Thelonius Monk, Alice and John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Larry Young,Sun Ra, John Gilmore, Janacek, Beethoven, Debussy, Bartok, Chopin, Astor Piazzolla, Gato Barbieri, Ray Charles, Lightnin Hopkins, Son House, The Blues, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Henry Dumas, Malcolm X, Ralph Ellison, Nikki Giovanni, Aime Cesaire, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollack, Bob Thompson, Franz Kline, Frida Kahlo, David Siquieros, Matta, Abdul Mati Klarwien, Jean Michel Basquiat, John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, Sam Rivers, Bennie Maupin, Yusef Lateef, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Federico Fellini, Marlon Brando,Ê Rakim, KRS-One,Public Enemy, Jimi Hendrix, Ntozake Shange, Octavia Butler, Nina Simone,Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor, the Mars Volta, all the cats I play with and so many others that it would be ridiculous to continue listing them. this list as it is, is way too short.
(answer by Sameer) My family, especially my father, J. Krishnamurti, Mohandas K. Gandhi, John Coltrane, Beethoven, Stravinski, young Tony Williams, Ustad Allah Rakha, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, and my close friends and musical colleagues.
Q. How has internet changed your life and art?
(answer by Sameer) Internet has brought the world closer together (even thought they try as hard as they can to stay separated), and it has helped me to educate myself. As far as the internet changing Art, it's hard for me to say. Like educating yourself through the web, it's easier for people to present their Art, and for people too find new artists, and check out their work online.
(answer by David) I buy gear on line quite a bit so its helped me access another market for spending money I don't have. I'm always grateful for that. In terms of my art its allowed people to find out about what I'm doing with the various groups I play with but creatively I'm still dealing with the horn and my spirit. Its not really a computer thing.
(answer by Shingo) On the upside, it's allowed me to connect to the audience on my own terms. On the downside, the internet has taught me that there are countless ways to waste your time.
Q. Have you any specific studio techniques you like to incorporate into the kosmic Renaissance experience"
(answer by David) We haven't seen the inside of a studio yet but I would imagine that when we do, we might dub out the drum kit, and I definitely would utilize some different effects pedals. My pedalboard is constantly expanding and contracting based on what I'm hearing and some things that work in my house fail miserably at the club.Ê The studio would be a great place to take the sound further out.
(answer by Sameer)
I'm not sure if I completely understand the question, since this group has only performed live, and we've never gone into a "recording studio". One studio technique that could be considered as incorporated into KR, is the "clicktrack" precision of the basslines that D.Boyce lays down. This precision in the bass, gives me the freedom to really build sophisticated rhythmic structures without any fear of the ground shifting or not being consistent.
Q."Time travel is a loose theme for this edition of maybe quarterly, music is a form of timetravel in some sense, and musicians are pilots."
(answer by David) I would have to agree but it all depends on what musician you are talking about. Some have the vibe that is timeless, meaning that what they are playing exists on many levels of the time space continuum. They are playing keylonta code sonics which are multidimensional whereas some cats are just playing what they can copy which freezes them and the listener in a place somewhere between now and just before now, a kind of static limbo.
(answer by Shingo) I feel that pure musical moments allow people to transcend one-dimensional (aging) concept of time.
(answer by Sameer) Just two days ago, me and david played at 12 Galaxies (mission, san francisco) we did one set for over 2 hours straight, but I swore we had played for only 40 minutes. Is that time travel?
Q. How does Japan differ from America in the jazz cosmos? Occidental vs. Oriental languages? 3D ideogram's versus linear alphabets?
(answer by Sameer) I find the Japanese audience to be more curious about original and new forms of artistic expression. I also sense a very heartfelt respect for the American musicians who bring originality to the stage, and don't hesitate to take big risks with their music.
(answer by David) The Japanese have a healthy respect for creativity and the abstract imagination so its no surprise that they would embrace Jazz music the way they have, especially that brand of jazz created by the master Afro American (read:Black) musicians who have innovated and continue to innovate cosmic revelatory sound. Americans know very little about this or even care, basically because of institutionalized racism but also because our value system has no provision for art and creativity unless it is commercially viable. If it makes money, we like it. If not then we have no use for it. Creativity is a spiritual endeavor. The West is devoid of spirit which is one of the reasons why the very best of its creators die young....Eric Dolphy, Jean Michel Basquiat, Lenny Bruce, Hendrix, Henry Dumas etc.
(answer by Shingo) The Japanese audience has an unusual appetite for quality information. Naturally they are open-minded to art worthy of appreciation.
Q. Somebody once said that writing about music is like dancing about archetecteure. How can so called music writers improve isomorphisms with their subject using the alphabet?"
(answer by David) language is woefully inadequate when trying to get a grip on matters of the spirit which is what music is fundamentally. Personally, I think I've read enough music journalism for the rest of my life. Most of it is an ego trip. The writer is just trying to flex his/her style in an attempt to prove how hip he/she is. Most of the shit is lame, misinformed, poorly written and clearly coming from the hands of a frustrated non artist, non creative mentality. If anything, music writers need to check their inflated sense of self at the door and really, really try to deal with the musicians and the music on a visceral level, a level which has to do with spirit and feeling. Sound is feeling. If you have to intellectualize what you are listening to, you aren't feeling it. Could be the music's fault but more times than not it's the writer's fault. Instead of giving us insight we get ego driven analysis which rarely taps into the intimate spaces the music goes. I think Greg Tate, Kodwo Eshun, David Toop, Nat Hentoff, Valerie Wilmer, Ralph Gleason, Graham Lock, Lester Bangs, John Szwed, Lewis Porter, are some of my favorite writers who can make you feel something about the music through their writing.
(answer by Shingo) Music in itself is a language comprised of rhythms and harmonies, which goes without saying. As far as my input I incorporate some morse code alphabets using the fader as the signal generator.
(answer by Sameer) I haven't found many music writers who turn me on, honestly the only one I can think of right now is Hazrat Inayat Khan - writer of The Mysticism of Sound and Music. I also like reading musicians who write about music, or interviews in which the musicians are comfortable enough to speak freely. This type or writing about music feels closer to home, and more directly connected the music makers.
Q. I really enjoyed the show last week in San Francisco, afterwards we touched on the so called "jam" scene and how there seems to be a distinct lack of jazz cats within it, although the approach might reflect "jazz" structures and sensibilities in some sense. Wd/ you like to continue on that theme?"
(answer by David) One of the reasons there might be a lack of so-called jazz cats within the jam band scene is that the scene is really unwilling to acknowledge
jazz music at all. Jazz music will take you places emotionally that you have no control over. Listening and playing jazz is a cathartic experience that some people just can't handle. The jam band scene is predominantly about the party, the drunken drug inflected party which is cool but really has little to do with music and creativity. I doubt if jazz means anything to those kids at Jazz Fest or Bonaroo. Jazz musicians are committed spiritually to the music whereas jam band cats, to me, seem to be committed to wanking in the name of ego, technique and flash. I also think improvisation means different things to different musicians. To jazz musicians it means spontaneity in the moment, all night, whereas to jam band cats it seems to mean spontaneity for a section of a song. Jam bands are way contrived to me, almost sounding as if they're written out their soloes. Jazz musicians don't operate this way. We never do they same shit twice even if we are doing the same shit. Its a new day, you know. I don't know if most jam band cats have this mentality of total immersion in the process of spontaneous creativity. It seems to me that they write complex multi-themed arrangements that have sections where one might take a solo but its always seems to be about the anal retentive tune they're trying to force down your throat. In reality, most jam bands appear to be anti-improvisational, at least in terms of what jazz is about. Jazz to me is also an inclusive music, a music where gender and race don't matter in the scheme of things even though black american people created it. somehow it has become a universal entity. this is not the case with jam bands and their ilk. The jam band scene is one of the most close minded situations I've encountered in awhile. The scene is a totally white college male situation. Where are the women, people of color? You can't find them. I've gone to concerts where I've been the only black person in attendance yet what the musicians were playing was their version of some blues, jazz funk or jazz inflected rock i.e. black music. The few blackÊ musicians you do find in some of the bands are sideman, they are not leaders (with the exception of Karl Denson). What's up with that? The message sent is not subtle at all.
(answer by Sameer) It's probably unavoidable to insult people with the answer to this question.Ê I think both sides have their ego maniacs, their showoffs, and their shallow, watered down, vacuous contributors. They also each have their excessively complicated composers and players, who are mostly trying to make everyone's brain sweat while listening. For me, one of the things that distinguish the jazz from the jam is the willingness for jazz to challenge even the most fundamental expectations, and take some big risks while improvising. I think jam bands are trying to be a bit more accessible, and as a result they don't really take as many risks. Dave Matthew's Band is one of the few groups that I heard would completely improvise a song on the spot in front of their audience, that's a big risk, and I respect that. The musicians that capture my attention stretch their own abilities to the limit to reach for a new place. The music from this place can cut to the deepest parts of ourselves, and take our experience to somewhere that we may never have known existed... the masters (in jazz, classical, world, and some rock music) can give you this intense personal experience over and over again, sometimes from the SAME recording! That is something that I don't find in a hardly any jam bands...
Q. "All three members of K.R are multiple craftspeople, can you each explain a little about some other bands or projects your might be involved with?"
(answer by David) I can also be heard with Broun Fellinis, The Supplicants, Crown City Rockers,Ê Sila and the Afrofunk experience and session work for Zion I,
Haiku d'etat. I also have a solo project called Black Edgar's Music Box which is an attempt to fuse hardcore jungle beats with jazz improvisation. examples of thisÊ can be found on my website blackedgar.com.
(answer by Sameer) You can hear me with The Supplicants, Marc Cary, Srinivas Reddy, Prasant Radhakrishnan, KA, Mitch Marcus, and many other freelance projects.
(answer by Shingo) I work on tracks with DJs and MCs in the studio. I really love roots music and try to incorporate analog dub techniques when we mix.
Q. "Painting, swordsmanship and tea ceremony are occidental alphabetical translations for the three pillars of Zen Buddhism according to D.T Suzuki. With an interest in Buddhist/Taoist philosophy and art i would like to ask for any examples within your music/art which may also reflect Buddhist/Taoist ritual/ceremony and thinking."
(answer by Shingo) I am not very familiar with Buddhist and Taoist teachings, but I think you can compare swordsmanship to musicianship, how you are dedicated to life as art, and also how you take care of your equipment like it's a part of your body - and you must take good care of it.
(answer by David) I like to think of myself as a sonic samurai but I'm not a Buddhist at all.Ê I take care of my horns as a warrior would take care of his katana.
(answer by Sameer) I find my daily practice to be very much like meditation. I also believe that having respect for your teachers, your tools, and your studies are fundamental to being a successful artist/samurai/philosopher
Q. "Music, painting, poetry, dance, crafts, the arts...why do we need more funding and support, how can we better communicate, educate, collaborate for our futures?"
(answer by David) I learned how to play the saxophone in junior high school so I'm always saddened when I hear about band programs folding because of lack of funds. It seems to be an epidemic in the U.S. but I believe its happening for a reason. The powers that be don't want free thinking, creative individuals to exist. They want us to be automatons (especially young people) who can be ordered around and mind controlled. Artists can't be controlled so its up to us to make sure that future generations have our cultural creative legacy to inspire them. They may not have much else if things keep going the way they are, at least in the United States.
(answer by Shingo) I think music should be more accessible to people to play and enjoy.
(answer by Sameer) Without the arts we would only be surviving, not living. The arts bring us closer to our own souls, and each others' souls. The arts help us to feel human, and remind us that at the end of the day, when all the money is made, lost, or spent, there is something that leaves a more lasting impression.Ê Artistic expression is one of the most undervalued activities in the modern world. By making it difficult for young people to experience art and creative expression we are essentially destroying any hope for a future that embraces free thought, and is conscious of humanity as a whole. Sadly, I think some politicians would be perfectly happy with that future.