Michael Edwards

breathing Charlie

Programme Note

"and nothing, and nothing. the days of
the bosses, yellow men
with bad breath and big feet, men
who look like frogs, hyenas, men who walk
as if melody had never been invented, men
who think it is intelligent to hire and fire and
profit, men with expensive wives they possess
like 60 acres of ground to be drilled
or shown-off or to be walled away from
the incompetent, men who'd kill you
because they're crazy and justify it because
it's the law, men who stand in front of
windows 30 feet wide and see nothing,
men with luxury yachts who can sail around
the world and yet never get out of their vest
pockets, men like snails, men like eels, men
like slugs, and not as good . . . "

(Charles Bukowski)

From Charles to Charlie (Parker), and working on his assertion that if it's not in you, it won't come out through your horn, this piece is based around the two versions of "Bongo Bop" Parker recorded in October 1947: a four times augmentation of the 9x12 bar blocks, rhythmically and harmonically derived from the source, there is very little of Parker sampled for the piece (most samples are of myself on alto), but you may hear snatches of a very young Miles Davis and, later in the piece, lots of the short rhythm section fills between solo phrases, complete with wax disc aberrations, clicks, and general lo-fi distortions. Most of all, however, you'll hear breath.*

* N.B. You probably won't notice much correlation between what you see the saxophonist doing and what you hear. In this piece, the saxophone is used more as a system exciter than as a normal musical instrument. So for one thing, you probably won't hear any normal notes. Also, due to processes such as live sampling, granulation, and looping, if something audible is done live, you may not hear it at the time but rather later, or perhaps not at all.

P.S. At the beginning of the piece I decided to set the scene properly, albeit briefly, for a work of this nature by transporting us out of the (perhaps overly formal?) concert hall into Henry's Jazz Cellar, just off the Lothian Road in Edinburgh. Seemed like a more suitable venue. A little bit more relaxed.