Joe Potts (image: Felix Salazar)
My friend Danny Gromfin just gave me a stack of vintage Grateful Dead LPs that he inherited from his “hippie aunt.” He asked me if I had ever seen the Dead in concert. I remarked that I had seen them several times at The Shrine when I was about the same age as his fourteen year old daughter. It got me thinking of how and when I first became aware of improvised music, and I think these concerts may just have been the time and place.
It wasn’t the horrible vocals that kept me plastered to the front of the stage during the Dead’s twenty minute versions of assorted two and a half minute folk, pop, R&B and blues classics, but when the rhythm and riffs of the originals broke apart and began to take their own individual course. Each instrument was playing its own song but doing it in a way that interlocked with the rest of the band. I didn’t understand what was happening but I was completely hypnotized by it. After the concert a friend and I were so amped up that we sat in his car in front of my house talking until the sun came up and my dad drove off to work.
A few years later, a seventeen year old, I tried my hand at improvised music after a rehearsal of an acoustic swing band that I struggled to be the bass player in. I felt the same rush as I did listening to the Dead that night and I have been addicted to improvisation ever since. I imagine that all improvisers have a similar story. Here is one from my brother Rick Potts:
One night coming home from playing music with the Doo-Dooettes at their studio in the Raymond Building I got very, very excited. Sitting alone in the backseat I felt like we were onto something. Our confidence was growing and we were really having such a good time in the process that I blurted out loud. “Some day everyone’s gonna be doing this!” Juan Gomez and Dennis Duck wanted to know what I was blathering about. So, I repeated “Some day everyone’s gonna be doing this!” which prompted another, “Rick, what the hell are you talking about”. I babbled, “You know… like making sounds and recording it and making records and stuff… you know.” Somehow it felt like if WE were having so much fun, other people would find out about it and someday it would spread everywhere. Pretty far-fetched…
Join Joe at the next soundShoppe on Sunday, June 11!
I am a member of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), as is artist/musician Paul McCarthy. Whenever Paul speaks about the music of the LAFMS he refers to it as “porch music.” I think Paul is trying to link the unrehearsed improvised music that we produce with the traditions of folk music. This form invites all comers to participate in a communal exercise of joining together to create a musical experience that is greater than the sum…
1. What led you to the work you’re making now?
Most of my work is still rooted in improvisation from a group perspective using conventional group settings (i.e. “jazz” instrumentation) but I have always been interested in spatial performance, ever since attending the Los Angeles premiere of Boulez’ Répons in 1985. So this is a great opportunity for me to investigate that part of my musical psyche, and hopefully it will lead to more.
Today in the office, we were listening to the work of electronic music pioneer Isao Tomita, who passed away last week at the age of 84. Some of his best albums aren’t freely available online (Pictures at an Exhibition or Firebird, for example), but there is more than enough out there to explore! Tomita – Snowflakes are Dancing Tomita – The Ravel Album Electric Samurai – Switched On Rock Tomita – Catastrophy 1999 Tomita (with Kodo and Kusillaqta)
– Nasca Fantasy Tomita
– The Bermuda Triangle Tomita
Here’s what’s playing in the SASSAS office this week! Juliana Barwick – Will Anonymous 4
– The Origin Of Fire
(Hildegard von Bingen) Kevin Drumm
– Tannenbaum Miles Davis
– Paris, Salle Pleyel (1969) Zs – Live @ Jazzhouse, Copenhagen (13th of October, 2014)
Links to online media are below.
Juliana Barwick – Will
Anonymous 4 – The Origin Of Fire (Hildegard von Bingen)
Kevin Drumm – Tannenbaum
Miles Davis – Paris, Salle Pleyel (1969)
1. What led you to the work you’re making now?
Just a love for synthesizers, drum machines, and non-traditional forms of electronic music.
2. What was your very first gig?
My first solo gig was at the original The Smell location in North Hollywood, late Nineties i believe. I recreated my bedroom and played in my pajamas. Instrumentation was chord organ, Yamaha SU-10 sampler, vocals.
3. What are you listening to these days?
Let’s Eat Grandma, The new Bixio/Frizzi/Tempera Magnetic Systems compilation Lp, Oiler,…
“Pushing through the market square, So many mothers sighing News had just come over, We had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, Earth was really dying Cried so much his face was wet, Then I knew he was not lying” -David Bowie 1971
April 22 is Earth Day. I remember the first one. I was in High School. We formed an organization that sold books like Paul Ehrlich’s…