Two years later



[Mike Richardson, by Kio Griffith]

A lot has happened since we went to Italy. Let me summarize:

1. Not one, not two, but three times I started and abandoned the mix for the IJG’s sixth album, tentatively titled Hello, Dada! (“Antennae Town,” included in a post below, was one of the tunes slated for that album.) I am still not sure what is going to become of the tracks recorded for Dada, which at this point are about four years old. I also don’t want to get into the details of the delay. I’m just not happy with the music, for whatever reason. Yet it simultaneously irks me that most of it is not publicly available.

2. I finished Decomposition, my 392-page manuscript, which I describe as a philosophy of music. For a while, I wasn’t sure if that would ever see the light of day, either. Eventually I discovered that I would not be able to finish it until I set my music aside for a while. During the last six months of the process, I didn’t write any music — probably the first such period since high school — and in fact I didn’t listen to much music, at least compared with my previous obsessive listening habits. It was a bit like fasting. And in retrospect I think it was healthy.

3. I started a new Portland-based band, a sextet called Proto-human. I wrote an album’s worth of music for Proto-human, of which I’m very proud. We rehearsed like mad, played two great shows (in March and July of last year), and recorded half of an album. Then we lost two of our members. I have been struggling to reconstitute that group in the months since. I believe we may be on the cusp of re-emerging, but I’ll see how next week’s rehearsal goes before I say more.

4. I came face-to-face with my own mortality in ways I never anticipated (except abstractly) before I was in my forties. I quit drinking, shifted my sleep routine, and generally started taking my health seriously. Physically, I feel better than ever. Existentially, I struggle with a suddenly much more acute sense of melancholy.

5. Damon Zick (one of the IJG’s regular saxophonists) had been proposing the idea of having the IJG at his school for a long time. He teaches band at a private Lutheran school (kindergarten through eighth grade) in North Hollywood. Once my manuscript was finished, I could think about this seriously. This past Tuesday, that performance finally came to pass, plus a show at Chinatown’s Grand Star Jazz Club. Out of necessity, the mini-tour involved a smaller version of the group — ten pieces instead of the usual fifteen. But we debuted an entirely new set of music — eight songs, which are probably among the best I have written, if the most awkwardly titled. There will be video available from at least one of those performances very soon; I will save further commentary on this latest incarnation of the IJG, and my plans for the future, until then.

Thanks for reading.