Sunday, 23 November 2014

Brownman & GRUVASYLUM feat Mad Dukez Friday November 28th @ May Cafe

Bright and chipper, eager to chat
 about the intersections of jazz and hip hop,
Brownman Ali calls me on a Sunday afternoon
between an eleven am big band rehearsal 
and an early evening studio pre-production session. 
The Trinidad-born, Brooklyn-bred, Toronto-based
trumpeter, composer, teacher and bandleader is a man of boundless energy;
juggling juggernaut jams in a menagerie of musical settings.
The previous night, at Melodia in Burlington.
Brownman presented a condensed version
of his annual 5 week Miles Davis tribute.


The first step is to make a set list
that speaks to his career, and that's hard.
We did our first set in suits,
covering the bop and swing stuff: the Acoustic era of 47-68.
After (that) we took a set break;
we actually made a costume change,
came back psychedelic, with sunglasses and headbands.
It changes the vibe, it changes how you approach the music.
To spend the whole night inside Miles' head
is a real heavy thing, for all of us...
You need five heavy musicians who are versatile enough.
There's literally only about three bassists in Canada that could play this gig.
 Marc Rogers of course tops that list.

Also joining Brownman on this sold-out gig were
Andy Ballantyne on altotenorand soprano sax,
Adrean Farrugia on piano and keyoards,
and Anthony Michelli on drums

We had to sublimate our own voices musically to play the idiom.
It was interesting to watch the transition...
slowly watch it morph by the end of the night into me.

(photo Nils Blondon)

By the end of their second set, 
the quintet were riffing in an idiom four decades removed 
from where they began: Miles' work from the 80's, which was
distinguished bcrisp beats and Marcus Miller's tight slap-bass:
something muccloser to Gruvasylum's sound:
Brownman's own brand of high-energy electric funk.

Brownman, who in his very international career has shared the stage with Paul Simon, Mos DefTalib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-ONE, and Jay-Z, feels a sense of continuity in the traditions he has inherited from his mentors Guru and Randy Brecker

Cats like Guru and Miles, they're always looking to the future:
Guru is the Miles of hip hop.
The years I had with him were life changing:
I know all his ethics, I know his ideologies.
The only difference is, he was a hip hop artist coming at the jazz idiom
and I was a jazz artist coming at the hip hop genre from a jazz perspective.
And really, it's not that different from what Miles does.
What defined Miles?
Three things: courage, irreverence, and evolution.
Miles was not interested in playing the music of yesterday,
and that's the thing with hip hop;
look at some of these guys from the Golden Era:
still touring around the same old tired record.

Mad Dukez: Gruvasylum's resident MC

I had just come off the Guru Tour in 2010,
and was asked to play with the band Type Relevant in upstate New York. 
Mad Dukez was their rapper, that's how we met. I was blown away:
I was so knocked out by his flow;
his sense of timing, his sense of rhythm,
and by his sense of storytelling.

The freestyle form in hip hop
 is not so different from the jazz solo:
the headspaces are similar, the context is similar.
Gruvasylum investigates that connection.

I asked Brownman what his thoughts and plans were;
going into the studio this week to record 
Gruvasylums second album

Mad Dukez is coming up from New York tomorrow.
I have all of these pre-production ideas;
and a lot of them are quite loose,
which is very different from when I go in with other groups,
I'm going into the studio tonight:
I've got a couple snippets, just frameworks,
grooves for bass, drums, and keyboards.
I've played them, sampled them, looped them.
Then I'll bring in Dukez, (and) talk about the ethics,
the idea of the tune. I'm setting the parameters,
but its gonna be Dukez doing the storytelling

 There's a track on my Juggernaut album;
Evolution Revolution, that came about because
Guru would say 'the evolution of hip hop
need(ed) a revolution'.
'Cause conceptually a lot of hip hop today
is about rims, helicopters, and bravado,
(That's) not using your form.
I think that's whack.

Mad Dukez, Fresh Kils on the set of their Sookie Sookie video shoot

The ethic of Gruvasylum
is to deal with real subject matter,
even if its just a story about a girl.
Coming up in Brooklyn, we would sit on the stoop
and just tell tales: go through a day of your life
or a big story arc: that's a Brooklyn tradition.
We're trying to get back to that act of authentic storytelling
and maybe have a certain literary bent to it.
That's harder to find now
than it was in the Golden Era, y'know:
 guys like KRS ONE and Public Enemy.

Brownman's vision for GRUVASYLUM
differs from the rest of his projects:
his foray into hip hop takes aim 
at street poetry's full potential 
for engaged storytelling,
the vitality of the oral tradition,
and relevance:

I'm hoping the beats will remind people of late Miles
or early hip hop.
What do with my different groups (is)
I break up all of my interests
and I have a different ensemble for each interest
and I really focus on the one thing.

Holding down the gruve for Brownman and Dukez this friday  
will be BEN MILLER on 6-string electric bass
and GEOFF BRUCE  on drums
For all Friday Nov. 28th GRUVASYLUM Toronto show info:

The band is also playing DBGB's 
in Buffalo on Sat. Nov. 29th
For all Buffalo show info

(photo by Nils Blondon)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Paul Poule: poemes et dessins (choses 2-4)

(sans ames- avec cyril lavain)

Nov. 13


la nuit recrut dans les draps
dans les marmites d'acier
dans les coffres
et les miroirs
dans les creux, les grottes,
et les crevasses des paupières
le grain semé pour récolte
au ciel déserté


 comme montée sur un carrousel infernal
la morte accompagnée de son 
fricassée d'étoiles vertes
dansait dans l'assiette
son dernier repas aurait des allures
de cortège funèbre
de défilé de mollusques stellaire
la mort patiente dans la viande
pas dans l'os des rêveurs


le cliquetis des larmes pleurées au dedans
rythmait l'avancée silencieuse
des mots ourlés aux lèvres
du mendiant
le vide répond au vide
dans chacune de ses prières

Nov. 14


ses crimes
la nuit les porte
à hauteur de flamme
à hauteur d'homme voûté
piétiné de lueurs


un chien danse avec l'écuelle des rêves
sa truffe humide collée au ciel
ses babines retrousées en un étrange rictus
englobent l'immense


son corps était écris a l'envers
écris avec quelques lettres inventés
pour combler ses creux, ses lieux d'angoisses
de l'orteil à la glotte le texte de son être
comme aligné ou perlé sur un fil invisible
semblait taire une autre douleur

(chien- avec Florent Vuilermet)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

the Kiss-off (February 22, 1987)

I first became suspicious a few days later, 
in the confusion of hospital error and Warhol s death 
following what should have been a routine surgery. 
Anyways, the last time Warhol was photographed alive 
who was right there by his side?

The man in question, heaven save us, 
trumpet master, 
sorceror, genius
Miles Dewey Davis III