Next week on 5/4 will be the Dead Air Trio's 10th anniversary show at the Open Gate Theater in Eagle Rock. Ten years is a long time for any group and especially for improvising ensembles, with the lineups of such groups often being as transient as the music. Over the past few years this group has not gigged much, except for these Open Gate shows. Although this may not be enough, I believe there is a positive side to this as well for in the back of my mind I always know that there is one ensemble I can return to that does nothing but improvise. While it could always be argued that by improvising exclusively we are making it easier on ourselves regarding rehearsals and all of the other necessities of keeping a group together, I feel that we in fact open ourselves up to the possibility of failure that is only avoided by the trust and empathy that we have cultivated and maintain.
Brian and I have played together for about 18-19 years now, a long time by almost any standard. Brian understands my playing better than any other musician. Although there are many ways for musicians to learn to blend their voices there is really no substitute for history between players. We have played so many gigs in so many configurations and styles that we always know where the other is going. Sometimes this may mean that one of us will change directions for the sake of an interesting detour as opposed to visiting familiar locations. Even when I find where I've ended up questionable, Brian is right there, either with commentary or even total silence.
Although Dan and I have not played together quite as long, there is just as rich a relationship, but different. Dan's vocabulary is one of the most interesting of any of the musicians I've played with. Dan will go from pure lyricism to pure texture in the blink of an eye and never make you wonder why. No matter what the style we are playing, whether it be hard bop, funk, or free improvisation, Dan's own voice shines through. He does not feel the need to tailor his playing to any one situation but instead will use all that he has available in a musical way.
As far as my own playing goes in this group, it's always hard to say. I feel that my playing has probably become more melodic since we started and possibly more conservative in some ways. At our last rehearsal I found myself thinking that I may be playing more than in the past and maybe too much. At any rate, my desire is that I still am able to bring something that can inspire these guys enough to want to keep doing this. I think 10 years is a great testament to a particular chemistry that could not have been planned or forced.
The Dead Air Trio will play Sunday May 4th at 7 PM at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, 2225 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90041 323.226.1617. Admission is $10.