CJM Sounds | Blog

I visited EAI recently to view several videos from their collection, including various Dan Graham documents, Robert Smithson/Nancy Holt's Mono Lake, Gordon Matta-Clark's Splitting (with a couple others), Charlemagne Palestine's Body Music I & II, and a Rhys Chatham concert at The Kitchen in '81. EAI is a classic SoHo Scene era non-profit (they provided fiscal sponsorship to Woody and Steina Vasulka to start The Kitchen in '71), and I highly recommend setting up a time to hang out in the viewing room.

This is my first mobile post from my new iPhone. Amazing...
The Fifth Dream by Cornelius Dufallo
Ne(x)tworks live at ISSUE Project Room, March 06

Kya - Giacinto Scelsi/Ensemble Contrechamps, hat [now]ART 117

Visistations I & II + Thirties - Jon Gibson, New Tone nt 6747 2

Crazy Nigger by Julius Eastman, From Unjust Malaise, New World 80638

String Quartet (1979) - Morton Feldman/Group For Contemporary Music, Koch Int'l Classics 3-7251-2 H1

sfSoundRadio - San Francisco Electronic/Contemporary/Improvised/Experimental/etc
I will write here. I will write here. I will, right here.
I'm very averse to feeling starstruck, but 5 or 6 years ago I was waiting on line at a pharmacy on 26th and Park Ave South when I realized that the legendary trumpet player Freddie Hubbard was standing in front of me. I deduced that it was him from the memory of his visage on ancient Blue Note album covers and from the fact that he was playing that weekend at the nearby Jazz Standard. I waited patiently as he filled a prescription, contemplating the pros and cons of committing the ultimate New York faux pas of intruding on a famous persons real-time and space. I firmly decided to let Mr. Hubbard do his thing and just remember the proximity to an admired musical master fondly.

I got my 'scrip shortly after FH had left the building, headed out the door, and proceeded to the crosswalk, where Freddie and what I imagine was one of his bandmates were standing and chatting. I changed my mind and resolved to invade his privacy, emboldened by the sudden memory of having listened to Herbie Hancock's Empyrean Isles all the way through the previous night purely by coincidence. The rapport between Hubbard and drummer Tony Williams on those sides is astonishing, in particular on both takes of One Finger Snap.

At any rate, I walked up to him and asked if he was, in fact, Freddie Hubbard. He affirmed. I told him how much I admired and respected his playing, and then said in a sort of embarrassingly sentimental way "...and Empyrean Isles, man, Empyrean Isles...." He said "That really IS a great record," his eyes looking up to the right as if a sense memory of hitting hard on that date with Herbie, Tony, and Ron Carter were rushing in.

There was a sort of long pause, during which his companion had hailed a cab. Freddie turned to get in, at first without acknowledging me, but then he turned around and said with a prophetic air, "the Eye of the Hurricane, man, the Eye of the Hurricane." He got in the taxi and rolled on.

I was kind of stunned, but then I quickly recalled two ostensibly unrelated things elicited by this enigmatic and epigrammatic statement. First, Herbie's composition on Maiden Voyage. Not relevant, or at least doesn't seem to be. Second, and this is the idea that I've taken away from the encounter right or wrong, was the early Free Jazz metaphoric concept of sonically and energetically reaching the eye of a tumultuous hurricane. The collective sound generated by intense improvisation epitomized in Coltrane's Ascension, among many others. Saxophonist Bobby Watson had explained this idea to a friend years before over a spliff, and it really stayed with me. Now, especially since Mr. Frederick Dewayne Hubbard, age 70, passed away earlier this week, another layer of meaning folds into the maelstrom for me.

PS - Another coincidence involving Empyrean Isles: I was uploading mp3's from my copy to a new external hard drive when I read of Freddie's passing. It had been a few years since I had even handled this CD, let alone listened to the true genius captured within.