All posts by Durkin

A live one

Audio from the March performance in LA, expertly recorded by our friend Daniel McCoy. This is probably one of the more “conventional” things I have written in a long time. We didn’t get much rehearsal on it (or any of the other new things I introduced on this tour), but the fact that it sounds a little like a graceful drunk falling down a set of stairs is by design.


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.

Music, and more music

Well, for a tour that began with intimations of disaster (a singer who was forced to drop out at the last minute, a brand-new bass player and trumpeter, a saxophonist with some broken teeth, a late-night brush with Johnny Law, a traffic jam of epic proportions), last week’s jaunt to San Diego actually went pretty damned well. Personnel: Damon Zick (soprano sax), Evan Francis (alto sax), Brian Walsh (tenor sax), Mary-Sue Tobin (tenor sax), Cory Wright (bari sax, piccolo), Dan Rosenboom (trumpet, piccolo trumpet), Josh Aguiar (trumpet), Josh Welchez (trumpet), Ian Carroll (trombone), Mike Richardson (trombone), Tany Ling (vox), Sam Bevan (bass), Dan Schnelle (drums), me.

We played two shows: one at Mesa College, and the other at Dizzy’s (both on Wednesday, November 3). We enjoyed highly appreciative and responsive crowds, a band that is sounding tighter than ever in its new-old incarnation, and a presenter who really took care of us (the one and only Jim Romeo).

After the Dizzy’s gig, a few of us crashed at Romeo’s gorgeous home in the San Diego hills, an experience that made me think that maybe there is a future in this jazz thing after all. Here’s the view we woke up to:

Anyway, a splendid time was had by all, and blah blah blah. Made it back to PDX without incident. Two days later I found myself in the Alberta Rose Theater, listening to the Quadraphonnes (featuring IJG saxophonist Mary-Sue Tobin) perform their much-anticipated “tone-color-melody” concert, a multimedia extravaganza that I was very honored to be a part of. This show was, as Ellington used to say, “beyond category.” You can hear most of the tune I wrote for the Quads (+ marimba, cellos, and rhythm section) in the below clip. (Apologies for the unsteady camera. I swear I wasn’t drunk.)

All in all, a fantastic week.

(Now to start preparing for our trip to Italy.)

I wrote a new song for you

Introducing “The Seagull.”

First, live audio from the Hammer Museum show on August 19. The sound of the IJG in a big courtyard, at night. This was in fact the first time we had played this tune in public (I believe the technical term is “world premiere”). The trumpet solo is Dan Rosenboom, the tenor solo is Brian Walsh, and the alto solo is Evan Francis. Jill and Tany do an incredible seagull impression at the end.

(It sounds like someone in the audience breaks a glass at around the 17 second mark. Huh?)

Overall, not a perfect performance, but not a bad one either, and the energy is pretty intense, which I like.

The Seagull by uglyrug

And here’s the same tune the following night, at Dizzy’s in San Diego. You can hear the trumpets a little better in this one, so some of the time displacements might make a little more sense. Video courtesy of Tany Ling / Matt Lichtenwalner.

[Photo credit: Husky]