I've had a few conversations about this kind of stuff‚ and I guess people who have investigated say it's like lucid dreaming‚ where you can be aware of it‚ and get to the point where you can start to control it. It's like trying to get to the other side‚ and trying to control it once you are aware.
Part of the magic with playing music is that it's a reaction to the music‚ and I've experienced that when the entire band goes into the zone. We're all focused but not trying to push anything. That happened a lot recently with Bill‚ and we did two weeks recently with a string quartet. That had a lot of super transcendent experiences.
That's amazing communication. Is there anything else in your life that comes close to that?
Not that I would want to say in an interview. [laughter] It's either illegal or inappropriate to talk about!
[laughing] I gotcha. Right on!
Some athletic things are like that. My dad's a real jock‚ and he grew up on the East Coast but always wanted to surf. He started when he was 50 and is a total surf bum now in a crazy part of the California coast line where the waves are choppy and not a very good surf at all. But I think he gets that. I guess it's just endorphins or something. It helps in athletics because your whole body is engaged. But surfers talk about that‚ and I surfed for a little while‚ and got that rush. It's a little different‚ but there are other experiences people have like that.
Surfing is a lot like that where you're hoping to catch a groove‚ and you ride it out. I've been running recently‚ and I find that too‚ where you get connected with your breathing.
I used to run a bit‚ but as a kid‚ I used to do these 50-mile horse and running races with my mom. And now in retrospect I can't believe I did them -- 25 miles running and 25 miles on a horse. It's over incredibly crazy terrain‚ with canyons that are 115 degrees and climbing over rocks. I remember when I used to run a lot‚ and beyond a certain mileage or time‚ you start to kick into the rhythm of it‚ and if you could just keep that state of mind‚ you could almost continue forever. It's like it's not even your energy that's moving you; you're just in the groove.
I guess that's why we keep doing it. [laughter]
I'm curious what your take is on the record.
I think they're both great. I feel like it's a great representation of a lot of what I've been doing running a music magazine‚ but you're doing it a lot better. [laughs] You're trying to communicate something that's genuine and real. From my position‚ I'm bombarded with categories‚ and that diminishes the simple notion of music or passion for music. We get called a this type of magazine one day‚ a that type of magazine the next. At the end of the day‚ it's all just about investigating music that you feel passionate about.
You just put out two albums that are completely different‚ and I don't think anyone that didn't know you would understand that it's the same. That's such a beautiful thing to me‚ because why not spread out? If I love Bob Dylan as much as I love John Coltrane‚ why do I have to only listen to Coltrane? My take on it is that what you're doing is not holding anything back in what you have to say and just going for it.
It actually takes quite a lot of energy. It would take me more energy to reign in my desires than it does to just explore them. People are exposed to so many different kinds of music‚ and so they're in us. It doesn't mean I can do it. I'm not about to turn out a classical record. The music that I've internalized comes out in my writing‚ and it would take a lot of conscious effort to stick myself in a box. It doesn't take energy to get out of the box‚ and I'm curious how people stay in the box as much as they do. I assume it's either that they're consciously trying to make something specific that will relate to a specific musical family tree. I guess I'm just saying it wasn't intentional. I think it'll probably happen more and more among other musicians. Categories are difficult for musicians to stay in. Some people like music that doesn't have words‚ and I really like people to know when I'm playing if I'm going to be singing‚ because I don't want them to just spend $20. And it's not the audience; it's the whole production of marketing and selling records.
That aspect plays such an important role of who's going to listen to it.
In all my posters‚ invitations and CDs‚ I make a point of listing the musicians in a prominent place‚ because people can't go based on the name of the composer or the star. If the record has Steve Jordan on it‚ and they're into music‚ they'll realize that Steve Jordan has been on all these other records. If Kenny's on it‚ or Bill‚ they'll relate it to a whole network of other records. And maybe they like Bill or maybe they don't‚ but those are the voices.
I think in any kind of genre label‚ maybe defining things by the ingredients. It's the minimum liner notes. Each record has the voices of Jason Moran‚ Bill Frisell‚ Kenny Wolleson‚ Tim Luntzel‚ Ron Miles‚ Doug Wieselman and a big string orchestra. And that's a pretty good description of the record. Although‚ as you say‚ you could do a record lead by Jason and it would sound very different. I don't even know what category my singing record is in. Folk maybe? Or folk-rock-pop? Country? It's got those kinds of songs‚ but it also features Tony Scherr. If you go to his MySpace‚ you can hear a little of him. That lineup to me‚ if I go to a store and see that on a record‚ I can already kind of hear it. That's what producers sort of give to things. That in addition to the genre helps people figure out if they might like the record.
With the singing‚ what's the relationship between that instrument and playing violin? Are you finding similarities?
I'm in a bunch of bands‚ and a lot of Bill's bands‚ and in some ways‚ I take the role as the singer. I often play the melody‚ where a lot of the cover tunes he does‚ for example‚ "Ventura" by Lucinda Williams‚ when I play that melody‚ I focus on the words. When I play a melody with words‚ I'm deeper into it. The lyrical voice-like quality of the violin‚ I've come a little closer to that through just studying it more.