Being a musician and performer living in New York City, I often find myself in a surprising rut–I will go months without hearing any live music. In this city there is no excuse for such behavior but my own laziness. Luckily I have friends who know how to pull me out and remind me of the power of good live music. Last Sunday night I went to a dance party, with Caribbean and West-African influenced jams performed by the New York-based No Small Money Brass Band. My best friend James, who has lost himself to live brass band music in both Ghana and New Orleans, invited me. The entire set hit me on so many levels, one of which was relevant for a composer, who, like myself, focuses almost entirely on instrumental music. In my own composing,
I try to discover how music
both a transitive and intransitive sense, without lyrics. What can online slots be conveyed, and how to convey it, using the other elements (rhythm, harmony, melody, etc.)? Something certainly was conveyed to me during the set, and it landed deep within my body. Indeed, the whole night was a very body-centered experience. We
were dancing, but what separated this from a great DJ set, I kept asking myself? As James pointed out
during the show, there is something special about thunderous, stomping dance music that (except for an electric guitar) is completely acoustic. Understanding that not only the volume, but the particularities of the sounds, from the crackling to the ferocious to the enveloping, is produced solely from the lungs and mouths, the bodies, of the performers brings a particular Presence into the room. I”m thrilled to have been there. Thanks, James.