Bluiett the teacher
I had the pleasure today of performing in the first of a series of concerts organized by Michael Vander Does featuring an all-star lineup of Kidd Jordan, Hamiet Bluiett, Marlon Jordan, Oliver Lake, plus some accomplished Columbus musicians. We began the process of doing a really free form collective improv to Michael and Oliver's poetry. There was tremendous, cacophonous energy in the room, but also a tendency a bit more towards the tried and true than might usually be the case with this particular combination of musicians. Bluiett definitely sensed something was going on – at one point he even came and sat right beside me on my piano stool, and practically tried to " will me" to play more "out" and and with more energy. After the break, he then proceeded to conduct which can only be considered a true master class in embracing the moment, and playing "truly" free. After graciously been given permission by Michael, he essentially took over and proceeded in the second set to really break down and then build back up the entire group, piece by piece . First, he began with having me play a solo, instructing me to segue into Don Pullen's beautiful tune "Ode to Life", and then asked me, as I played, to "take it out" – deconstruct it, and push boundaries, which I proceeded to attempt to do, ending in a climactic coming back to tonality towards the end. After my "feature", he similarly had just Oliver Lake, and then the bassist, guitarist, drummer, and Kidd Jordan all take turns playing, with the focus again very much on embracing the moment, and on the individuality of each of the player's voices. Collectively towards the end, the degree of heightened awareness and interaction among the band members was palpable - a true master class in deconstructing and building back up, always embracing the moment, listening, and generally going with the flow, by the master himself, Hamiet Bluiett. The lesson continued at Michael's place until 2:30 in the morning afterwards as we jammed in Michael's living room, with Bluiett leading/cajoling/conducting. Good times.