April 3, 2016
Musical Non-Idiomatic Improvisation in Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee is not only the home to the Poison Pie Publishing House, but also has in recent years hosted the the Big Ears Music Festival. The 2016 iteration of the Big Ears Festival closes today. The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House purchased day passes for Friday. These shows included a duet featuring Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet and Vijay Iyer on piano, synthesizer and computer at the historic Bijou Theater in downtown Knoxville. Wadada Leo Smith is an American musician and a hero of historical significance from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Relevant to this site, Smith has also been a featured musician in the course at the University of Tennessee (also in Knoxville), titled, The Golden Age of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation, taught by the Poison Pie Publishing House in-house author, David Keffer.
The performance on Friday Night was titled, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke, peculiar only in that neither the trumpet nor the piano are instruments that can be stroked. Regardless, the performance featured an hour long musical conversation between Smith and Iyer that tiptoed through territory lying between the border of any known genres and did not overly commit itself to tendencies for either melody or rhythm. It was a lovely evening. A studio version of A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke has been released in March of 2016 by the German label, ECM, on both cd and lp.