Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Exactly twice in the past I have heard John Coltrane's Ascension twice in the same day: first when I bought the original LP -- getting to the end I said to myself, "gotta listen to this again, closely," and again when the work became available on CD with, lo and behold, a second, previously unreleased take.

But to hear Ascension twice in one day, by different groups of musicians in radically different realizations, now that was something I was looking forward to.

Before that, though, there was a staged interview with Fred Frith ranging over the length of his career. Fred would be on stage that night for the second Ascension, holding down the bass chair.

We were coming to the end of the colloquium, with excellent papers by, among others, Andrew Dewar and Alex Rodriguez.  The afternoon workshop featured artits from Mozambique, Norway, Austria and Canada, with Matt Brubeck hosting the event (and playing his clothes-pin cello).

The second onstage interview of the day was with the softspoken but intense Abdullah Ibrahim.  I'd run into him the night before in the hotel lobby and introduced myself, acting like the complete idiot fan -- but he was kind and gracious, as he was during his interview. The final colloquium event was the first performance of Ascension, energetically played by a large Ontario ensemble. Finally it was over to the River Run Centre for a spectacular Electric Ascension by ROVA with an enthusiastic band of friends.  ROVA had arranged for the concert to be filmed, so there were boom cameras flying around over our heads as the music filled the space of the room and of our imaginations.  Watch for the film when it's released.
and we closed the night over at the pub, wondering at all that we had seen and heard this day, wondering at what we would hear tomorrow.

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