Remember live music? First Flight documents about 40 minutes of jams recorded during the third week of my September residency at Nublu last year, and, for me, this show was just about the most enjoyable hour of music I played all year.
The ideal of the residency was to mix things up with special guests, different band lineups, and varied set lists, keeping things fresh and new week-to-week, and this show was the wild card of the bunch.
That's because although Ryan and I have played together for years, and Dave and Spencer have played together for years, neither half of the band had ever met each other. I was tangentially aware of Dave and his music and was intrigued by what I'd heard, so I thought it was a cool idea when Chris Tart, the residency promoter, suggested a collaboration.
So, about 30 minutes after we'd all heard each others voices for the first time, we got up and played for a little over an hour, uninterrupted. The only thing discussed beforehand was that we shouldn't discuss anything beforehand - not a key or a riff to start with, nothing - so as to preserve maximum spontaneity.
I think this music demonstrates a real connection on stage. In other words, each player was completely present and actively listening on the bandstand. Listening back, there are moments I can hear Ryan saying - musically - "Hey, let's go over here! Check this out!," or Spencer being like "Wouldn't it be cool to go down this path?" And we followed. And it was cool.
In my mind, that listening thing is the number one most important factor in any collaboration or cooperative effort, but especially in improvised music.
And I think it's fair to say that a little more listening, a little more presence, would do the whole world some good right about now, don't you think?