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FreeSessions March '24 Curation: To Be In Service

To Be In Service

I am honored to be curating this first FreeSessions back after our hiatus. 

I am grateful that KFGM Missoula Community Radio and Daisy Chain Presents are bringing these sessions back to life at the Missoula Public Library. While the FreeSessions started as a part of Lakebottom Sound, our hope is that these sessions can be more sustainable under this new leadership. An improvised music and multi-disciplinary sessions feels so important to the Missoula landscape. 

Bill Kautz and I started the FreeSessions in 2017 to create a space of collaboration, listening, and experimentation in Missoula. We believe in the importance of dialog and connection across musical styles, scenes, and art forms. The FreeSessions are designed to break down the silos that exist in our art and music world, and promote new creative possibilities for our community. We believe in the power of art and music that is not restricted by genre norms or hierarchies. The curated portion of these sessions is meant to be an incubation ground to explore new projects and concepts. These sessions are all about LISTENING. 

To welcome the FreeSessions back and to assist in this transition to the new organizers and space, I will be presenting three aspects to my curation— a solo set, a Conduction set, and Sonic Explorations by Pauline Oliveros. 

First, I will perform an improvised solo set with trombone and electronics. As a trombonist who primarily performs in ensembles, performing in this way feels vulnerable to me. I am inspired by Kenny Werner’s words of falling in love with every sound I play and practicing the radical act of love and acceptance in my music. I will be challenging myself to listen compassionately, as I play, taking on the attitude of being in service of the music, instead of my mind or ego which can disrupt the creative flow. I find abstract improvised music to be profoundly powerful, especially in our capitalist world that wants to put a label on everything. I play to express the paradoxes of our world— the beauty and horror, our interconnectedness, the joy and grief, the inner dark stuff that can get neglected and mangled.

Second, I will be presenting a set of Conduction with the UM Mini-Trombone Choir featuring Cameron Doucette, Sean Stineford, and Harrison Walker. We will play a short set of improvisations created through Conduction – a method of using signals to construct or modify sound in real time developed by Butch Morris

Here’s an excerpt from the blog post I wrote for the first ever FreeSessions in 2017:

“Conduction has a way of fostering an environment of immediate intentionality, of playing without judgment, of playing without planning out what you’re going to play ahead of time, of playing and listening. With less time to think, it can be easier to just play with conviction. To participate. To add to the music the best you can within the parameters of the given signal. It takes away a few of the decisions of when and how to play.

“For these sessions, let’s be inspired by Conduction by committing to listening, jumping in with conviction to serve the music, and being aware of what’s happening with the whole group.

The FreeSessions is a space to create and interact with other musicians in new ways. It is a place to experiment. It is a place to listen, play with conviction, and let the pieces of music be how they are without judgment. This is an invitation to try something new, to play something you’ve never played before, to practice listening like you’re hearing things for the first time,” and acting accordingly.

Third, I will be facilitating the whole group in Sonic Mediations by Pauline Oliveros. I find Pauline’s work to be incredibly powerful and accessible, and I think this is a great way to kick off these sessions in community.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to her Sonic Meditations book:

“Pauline Oliveros has abandoned composition/performance practice as it is usually established today for Sonic Explorations which include everyone who wants to participate. She attempts to erase the subject/object or performer/audience relationship by returning to ancient forms which preclude spectators. She is interested in communication among all forms of life, through Sonic Energy. She is especially interested in the healing power of Sonic Energy and its transmission within groups.”

While these sessions and I come from a musical origin, the FreeSessions welcome improvised and experimental art of all disciplines and foster a place of collaboration across disciplines. 

The overarching theme of this session is to be in service. How can we serve the music, the art, the community? 

Organizing and facilitating the FreeSessions on and off since 2017 has been an act of service, my love song to Missoula and all its beauty and potential. It is a place to practice listening and creating together, a place to imagine how expansive our musical world could be without patriarchy and hierarchy. If we can create that in music spaces, perhaps there is more likelihood we can do it in other spaces as well. 

I invite you all, coming from a place of listening, to be in service to the music and the community for this session. 

May the FreeSessions embody transformative listening, collaboration, radical inclusion, and ground-breaking, beautiful music and art making. 

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