CALL for SUBMISSIONS!!!
ALL artists! I am very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS again. I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of execution for my trip to Iraq. I will still be traveling all over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them. Look at the guidelines for submission below, please:
MUSIC: All formats accepted. Snail mail to: Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 5308 65th Avenue, Lacey, WA 98513 The only criteria for music you submit is that it MUST HAVE high performance energy... if you submit lacklustre material, it will be reviewed accordingly
POETRY: Poems are accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail. Poems submitted in any other fashion will NOT be published. Poetry that includes some reference to music is granted first priority for publication.
BOOKS: We will review some books; books about music are PREFERRED. We will NOT return any books submitted for review. Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.
DIY Announcements: We will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or medium... HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS... if you are a corporation, don't even BOTHER sending stuff... it will be marked and reported as SPAM!
Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 71
INTERVIEW with Ed Drury
Zzaj: There seems to be a lot of Ď60ís & Ď70ís influence in your music(s)Ö groups like Mahavishnu keep popping in my mind when Iím listening to your traxÖ tell me why? Or, tell me if Iím just having ďanxiety flashbaxĒ, & wanting your music to sound like somethiní it ainít.
Ed: Well flash backs are part of the trip for sure. I was playing music then and of course, a lot of the music I grew up playing was even older. My earliest influences were guys like Don Ellis and Miles Davis but I also played in a lot of rock bands. I listened to a lot of stuff out of the bay area early, one of my biggest guitar influences being from a group called The Moby Grape (huge fan) but also Jefferson Airplane. That was one side of me. The other was following the folk music scene. Paul Simon being a huge guitar hero of mine. I also was a huge Doors fan and would marvel at the sounds of guitar and organ together. I played a lot of keyboards and guitar in those days. But Iíve always been picking up new instruments all my life. Growing up, there was one rule in my house. If I could play any written piece of music on a particular instrument, my dad would find away to supply me with an instrument. So it was that my house always had some kind of electric organ, an acoustic piano, several guitars, clarinet, more than a few trumpets and of course some type of recording equipment. My first really good deck was a Roberts reel to reel. I love that thing. I also had an early Ampex which did the all important sound on sound. Later I got a four track Teac and my life as a gear head continued as money permitted.
Zzaj: Itís obvious that you do a lot of collab workÖ Iíve slowed down a bit on that (used to do about 8 to 10 collab tapes/CDís a year... what about you? How many do you do? Is collaborative work a preferred method for you?
Ed: I do a lot of collaborations. I donít usually do CD length ones, but Iíve done enough of them to put some together. I work on several levels with in that area. For example, I was a guest artist with the Tapegerm collective. Great group of looping fanatics. In that vein, Iíve had a long time collaboration project with my friend Chris Phinney aka Mental Anguish, aka Harsh Reality Music. I donít know if weíll ever actually release a CD, but weíve done easily a CD full of collaboration via creating and trading our own loops. Thatís fun. People look down at loopers, but really a lot of people out there are looping and more than you would guess are full on professional music directors for film and TV projects.
But thatís the thing about collaborations, they allow you to do projects youíd have trouble doing solo and keeping together an ensemble for. I love it. Since Iím not usually a vocalist these days, a chance to collaborate with one is always welcome. I was fortunate to have some people cover vocal songs Iíve written. Also very lucky to have the great Lisa T from the UK write a song with me called ďShe Said Ahhh...í which is something very different from anything I could create solo.
The other level is that I create backing tracks and through them out there for other people to use. A great example is a Didjeridu and Tabla track I called Eastern Sun, which was then taken by four different artists Evan Paul, Phillip Stone, Evan Paul and Joe King who each made a fantastic track of their own out of the same recording. Thatís mileage. But more often I will simply get together with another artist and throw tracks at each other until we feel itís complete.
But back to the sample and loop thing. Jack Wright (Quantum Kids) and Jamie Dubberly have both made tracks using didj and jaw harp samples of mine. Jamie did a fantastic cover of the jazz classic ďCaravanĒ and Jack created a wild jazz guitar piece called ďNew Age Trash Compactor.Ē I couldnít have dreamt a better out come from those samples.
Zzaj: Can you give us a little bit of a ďbioĒ sketch? Where you live? Where you work? Where you ďgrew upĒ (or didnít)? How old you are? You know, all the ďgossipyĒ tidbits that other musicians always love to hearÖ.
Ed: Well, I am old. I think God was a senior when I was a freshman so you can forget those rumors about me being older than God. But we could hang. I live in Portland Oregon. Nice little town. And I work teaching didjeridu and performing music, these days mostly for second graders as I am quite involved with teaching performing arts in schools. I also teach at the Hillsboro Cultural Art Center in Hillsboro Oregon. I travel and give workshops. In the 90's I gave three didjeridu works shops in Olympia Washington as a matter of fact. Iíve taught workshops all over Oregon, Washington and Nevada. I also was one of the first didjeridu players, along with my friend Rick Dusek, to play on the strip in Las Vegas. That sort of thing. I grew up all over the Pacific Northwest, but I was born not far from a place called Celilo Falls Oregon which is an Indian Reservation. I started elementary school in Seattle Washington, finished in Portland Oregon and went to high school in The Dalles Oregon. Iíve spent considerable Ďadultí time in Hawaii, Australia and traveled all around the Pacific Rim including many places in South East Asia. You could say Iím a Pacific Ocean/Oregonian.
For much of my life (1969 through 1989) I worked in various roles as a health care provider and diagnostic tech. Many of the stories and feelings behind my music also come from that experience. The people I met during all those years and the circumstances I met them under. Iíve seen people face death and been with them when death came. I donít have words to describe all that, so I fell back on my language, which is sound, to tell their stories. It is perhaps why I first got into music from other cultures, because I found that most cultures around the world are much more in touch with what I was experiencing. Most people in the US, pretty much distance themselves from any notion of life ending. Death is hidden, secret and feared greatly as the ultimate enemy. I found it interesting that there is a wealth of knowledge on dealing with it out there and much is expressed musically as is all aspects of life in these musical traditions. Itís not all boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy is a rough and tough dude sort of thing as found in a lot of popular mainstream song subjects. But donít get me wrong, I listen to top 40's music too! Iím as much a product of pop culture as anyone youíll meet.
Zzaj: What are your main reasons for playing music? Is it because you ďhave toĒ, as some players say? Or is it because itís a ďprofessionĒ? Or, a little of both of those?
Ed: Iíve done both. I actually took about a 15 year hiatus from playing music. Which explains a lot of the rust on my guitar playing. I think that I have to play music for my mental well being. Ironically, it has also driven me crazy at times. But I remember something a old boss told me when I was pretty young. I had a job helping deliver pianos and we were driving for hours to deliver a Lowery home organ to some little old lady in a remote little town in Eastern Oregon. Anyway, the guy asked me what I was going to do in college and I told him I was going to study music. Well he told me that was great and Iíd never regret choosing a life in music. He said, ďeven if you just sell instruments like I do, youíll have a wonderful life touching people in a very real and important way.Ē You know, he was right.
A huge part of my music comes from the lands Iíve traveled to and the experiences primarily with nature. Iím a huge lover of animals, and they influence me a great deal. Iíve always been quite taken with animals of all sorts and take my rhythms primarily from their movements and sounds.
Zzaj: By now, most of us know that you do didgeridooÖ what other instruments do you play? Whatís your favorite instrument (to play, or to listen to)?
Ed: Well I play a lot of instruments and I donít know if I have a favorite. There are so many favorites. I love playing the guitar, always have. It was the guitar that completely took over my life when I was about 16 and itís the guitar that still calls me. That being said, when I think of a melody, you know of writing something down, I visualize a keyboard always. Never the fret board. The fret board to me is patterns and chords. The keyboard is how I picture notes. I also like playing my various end blow flutes which Iíve collected from all over. I play jaw harp, studying mostly East Indian techniques. Amazing rhythm device that. I also enjoy playing (or trying to play) tablas and dumbek. I enjoy various hand drums, my favorite is an Egyptian Riqq, small tambourine with amazing variety of sounds.
I listen to a wide variety of music from around the world. From electronic to field recordings of remote tribes in South America and Africa, to symphonies. Iíll happily listen to most music with the exception that I donít like people around who sing, clap or otherwise make noise while Iím listening. That would include talking to me. Itís always been something I just canít deal with and I think the height of disrespect. When I listen, I am completely silent. I am listening. How people can just have music on and go about their trivial chatter about the weather or politics is completely beyond my understanding. So it is, that although I do a lot of listening, you wonít catch me at it often or for long. Not unless you take a vow of silence lol.
Zzaj: What kind(s) of musical projects do you have in the mill over the next year? Do you have any CDís out? If so, where?
Ed: Iím working on my first CD in about two years. It will be pretty new age, but then maybe not quite. Most of those tracks Iíve stuck up on my Ampcast page. I need to put them some other places to get more feedback on them I suppose. Most of my CDís are out of print. I did about 20 CDs and four or five cassette projects not counting an old didjeridu instructional booklet/tape combo I did in 1994. And an instructional video I did, I think around 1999.
I am fortunate to be a guest on some really nice CDís. Sundown, produced by Barry Durdant-Hollamby available at his website http://artofchange.co.uk , She Said Ahhh by Lisa T (www.soundclick.com/lisa), Wrighdudes Ditties and Internet Collabs (available with purchase of Quantum Foam at http://users.adelphia.net/~wrightdude/quantumfoam and American Road by Jason Didner ( www.jasondidner.com ).
Also, many more collabs. I think that is really where Iím living at the moment. Especially when my collaborators have a good result with what weíve done . Thatís a real high. But I am working on some unique compositions which I canít really share at the moment. (Top secret stuff lol!) All I can say is if youíve been listening to me, keep listening. If you havenít, well the best is coming anyway so youíre starting at a good time.
Zzaj: Do you feel that the Internet has helped to IMPROVE the quality of music(s), or (maybe even) degraded it? If you believe itís improved it, why? If itís degraded it, why?
Ed: You know I donít think either. The internet is just there, you know? Itís another vehicle to get your music out there. For me itís a great opportunity to collaborate with a lot of musicians and to get feed back on a wide variety of projects. Iím able to try things on the internet that just werenít practical to try any other way. I can experiment with any genre I want to and put it on the internet and get a wealth of feedback. I can also listen to just a huge variety of music. Thatí s an important driving creative force with me. In that respect, for me the internet is helping to improve the quality of my music.
Zzaj: What level of formal musical training have you had? Is ďtrainingĒ more important, or ďpracticeĒ?
Ed: Tough question. I had formal training even before college, I attended lots of music festivals and played in youth orchestras from the west coast to the east. As for music lessons, private piano from the age 5, trumpet ages 11 through 16. The training was what it was. It trained me. The practice helped un-train me, or free me. I think training is very good. Excellent, in fact and I highly recommend it. I will study music with someone at every opportunity. As someone who is interested in various traditional music forms from other cultures itís absolutely necessary. That being said, there is no substitute for practice and the discovery it leads to. I remember an Aboriginal elder telling me once, ďthatís pretty good, your able to do it slow, now practice it slow for one year and when you have done that you are ready to try fast.Ē For me, practice speaks to discipline and devotion. Iím a huge advocate of both.
Zzaj: Do you ever play ďon the roadĒ? Or, is your work primarily in-studio? If you do play on the road, which is the more enjoyable? Road or studio?
Ed: I have been more and more a studio rat as I grow older. There are things I miss about the road, but I feel I have an enormous amount of creative work to get done and time keeps on ticking . So these days Iím playing beat the clock with father time. I want to leave something lasting, or a at least hell of a lot of things so it will take some time to sort it out . So I have to be recording. I do some recording every day. In fact, I try to write and record a piece of music each and every day.
Zzaj: Thereís no doubt (in my mind) that todayís musical ďbusinessĒ landscape is significantly different from what it was when I was growing up. Lots more indies, & it seems (to me) that ďthe big guysĒ have less influence over what gets played. What do you think about that? Is ďindieĒ the wave of the future? How do you think music, & the distribution of it, will change in the next 15 years?
Ed: Oh, I know only that it will change. Iíve always wanted a future when the consumer could choose the music from a wide variety and create his own mix to purchase. That kind of marketing just hasnít happened to any real degree yet. Funny, the technology is pretty much there, but there is over whelming resistance on both sides to this approach. So I guess we can make and sell a few CDís in the mean time. Iíve been told I can make a good coherent CD, so Iím glad to have the chance to do it the old way. You know, make a concept album. Still in the back of my mind I remember someone telling me that in the future, people will choose just the tracks they want from a variety of artists and make their own CD, their own soundtrack. That appeals to me. As for more Indies, yea that is a very good thing. I earn my small amount of crust by teaching people to play instruments and compose music. I donít get to pick and choose who I teach. Donít want to because I love playing and creating music and believe absolutely everyone is entitled to that pleasure. I want more people playing and creating in the world. And I want to live in a world where you can hear everyoneís music.
Thereís room. There is room for street musicians, home recording freaks, electronica wizards, all to contribute to the soundscape. The problems that the music industry faces, indeed like the worldís problems, arenít from too many indie musicians. And we arenít in danger of having too many for a good long time..
It really gets up my nose when I hear from artists, Ďthe reason no one takes ___ music serious is that there is so much bad ____ music out there.í Fill in the blank with your favorite genre. No, the reason people donít take indie music seriously is that they donít know enough about it. And the time invested at pointing fingers at each other and looking for someone to blame would be better invested in getting the word out about who you think the worthwhile Indies are. I think Indies on the net get bogged down in too much negativity sometimes. You hear a lot of excuses for why weíre not more successful and they are mostly things that are not controllable because of the fact we ARE Indies.
Life is short, but writing a score for it is a BIG job.
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