Thursday, January 21, 2016

Brian Fielding - An Appropriate Response, Vol. 1 (2015)

Label: Broken Symmetrys Music
Source: Cdbaby 

I met Andy McKee and Mike Lee shortly after moving to Montclair, NJ from NYC in 1995 and have played with them in different configurations over the years, mostly in duo gigs with Andy and memorable jam sessions at my house. I met Ali Jackson several years ago when he happened to be walking by my house early one evening on his way to visit my neighbor. He stopped to listen to the live solo piano music coming from my house and asked my young son playing in the front yard, who was playing those Monk tunes. Later, around midnight, Ali and his friends knocked on the front door and
we ended up hanging out and playing music ‘til the wee hours. We had never played as a unit before our one full band rehearsal a few days before the recording session, and the first time I’d played most of the compositions in a quartet setting. This freshness allowed us to collectively and organically
create the music. Ali was the first to arrive that morning and after setting up his drums we had some time until the others arrived so we talked about the project’s title and genesis. The Chinese Zen (Ch’an) master called Yunmen (d. 949 CE) when asked by a disciple what is the fundamental teaching of the Buddha, replied “an appropriate response”.
We live our lives on the edge of each moment, each breath precious. We can’t know how things will turn out from one moment to the next. We can’t know the “right thing” to do in every moment beforehand. It’s risky. So we seek to respond in a manner appropriate for each moment based on whatever wisdom, love and compassion we have to offer in the moment as it arises. We practice a situational task-based ethics, grounded in the dharma, and seek to live in a state of non-judgmental naked awareness, with a “strong back, open front” as they say in Zen Late in the day the last song we recorded was the ballad, Appamada. As we silently let things settle before playing, Ali quietly said, “let the song breathe, it almost plays itself.” Later, as he was breaking down his kit I asked Ali if he could talk further about his process of making music as a master musician and improviser. He thought for a moment, smiled and, referencing our morning conversation, simply said (I’m paraphrasing) “we listen and try to make an appropriate response to what everyone’s playing in each moment. It’s why we practice and why we play - to make an appropriate response.” 

                                                                                                                                 BRIAN FIELDING