Joi Ito invited me to be a speaker at the 2008 Ars Electronica Symposium and Festival, held each year in Linz, Austria. I chose to speak about Music, Software, and Sustainable Culture, tying together my free software and free culture sensibilities. But after discharging those responsibilities, and after meeting tons of new people and sharing lots of new information, it was time to come home.
Page counts and advertising revenues may be down at our local newspaper, the News and Observer, but we still subscribe because it still brings us a lot of good news, reporting, and commentary. This morning I read a particularly inspiring article about John Heitzenrater, an expert in South Asian instruments.
The article begins by noting that Heitzenrater’s roots are Swedish, his accent American, “[but] when John Heitzenrater fiercely strums the sarod, the music resonates, transcending geographical and ideological boundaries.”
It turns out that Heitzenrater was inspired by one of the great boundary-trascendents, John McLaughlin…
Last week Lyle Estill was scheduled to give a reading at Quail Ridge Books and I was asked to introduce him. After his reading, which was excellent, and the questions, which were semi-interesting, he set himself to signing books for the 30+ people who came to hear him that evening. And, being in one of the best real, local bookstores, I set myself to browsing. I wandered over to the Music section, and was stunned to see that one of my favorite bass players, Victor Wooten, had written a book called The Music Lesson. I cracked it to a random page, read the passage that said
“Sharing is on e of the most important tools needed for personal growth,” he once told me, also stating that many people never come to understand that point. He said that many of us try to hoard our knowledge in order to stay ahead of everyone else. I understood that completely because I used to use the same method.
I had a trip to Oregon coming up, and I realized that with this book, I could be spending time with my man Victor. Do you want to know what it was like?
Last month I had the opportunity to read Power, Passion, and Beauty, the story of the Mahavishu Orchestra, published by AbstractLogix. As many of you can imagine, I’m a huge fan of John McLaughlin, and as a fan, the book did not disappoint. Meticulously researched the book’s organizing structure of a timeline lets history tell the story without the author getting in the way. And what a history it was…
First, there is the premise, which Herbie lays on the line straightaway: that to grow as a musician, he must walk outside the lines of his comfort zone, meeting other artists halfway or more than halfway. In the first few segments, he explains this idea of sharing, give-and-take, and you can see the chosen artists saying “yes” but acting as if “OH MY GOD! IT’S HERBIE HANCOCK!! WHAT DO I DO?!?!?” It takes Herbie a few times to really get the message “just be yourself” through through to them.
The DVD of my dreams has just been released by Abstract Logix, and I’ve already started buying it by the dozen: John McLaughlin’s Meeting of the Minds, the making of Floating Point. It is my hope that when Manifold Recording opens and The Miraverse comes into existence that we will be hosting musicians and archiving such creativity and experiences as the Meeting of the Minds DVD captured.
I’m a big fan of John McLaughlin’s music and musicality. When he came to Durham last year, I was lucky enough to procure 4 tickets to his Fourth Dimension concert so close to the stage I could touch it. At that time we had already received zoning approval for the studio complex, but we had not yet received a building permit. I went to that concert at the Carolina Theater of Durham both as a fan and as a prospective producer. How would his live concert measure up to what I believe could be an even better experience–an opportunity to see and participate in the creative process with a musical genius like John?