IMPRESSIONS OF MY TWO DAYS WITH GILAD ATZMON
By Trevor La Bonte
From the moment we picked up Gilad at the Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport, it was a joy. He was warm, friendly, compassionate, highly perceptive, was always smiling, and is hilarious one moment and profound and serious in the next. He carried only his alto saxophone case, a heavy backpack, and medium-sized suitcase, which I found out were mainly stuffed full of copies of his book, “The Wandering Who?” and other than than, he was traveling lightly.
We took him from the airport to Magnolia Cafe and he began asking me questions about being blackballed from performing. The more I told him, the more outraged and dumbfounded he became, which was a little shocking to me because I had no idea he would become so outraged and care so much, always seeing the larger philosophical implications of everything. He actually cared more about me than I did, and pointed out that the jewish ethnic activists were doing a lot more than just harassing me, they are actually terrorizing the entire community by threatening everyone, forbidding them from hiring me, talking to me, or even being my FB friend. This changed my whole perception of things, and made me angry too. I didn’t think it was such a big deal when I though they were bothering only me, but when I realized they are holding the entire town hostage, I had to agree that this behavior is unacceptable. Gilad seemed most upset that another jazz artist was silenced, and and reminded me that this kind of suppression of free speech is a crime against humanity. It can be hard to see the full significance of something you are at the center of. Luckily, jazz players are ready for anything, so he was unfazed to learn that even the drummer and bass player I had lined up to play with us had backed out two days before the performance, saying there was “too much negativity surrounding the event,” and I had to agree with them, except that the source of the negativity was not me. I have played hundreds of duo gigs, and am actually quite fond of the configuration, even though it is much more work to play all the bass lines, provide groove, rhythmic interest, harmonic color, and to provide the melodicist with responses while he is stopping to take a breath between phrases, all the while trying not to clash of get in the way. It sounds more complicated than it is, though. Your ear tells you what to play, and it really doesn’t require as much thought after awhile.
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Watch In My Solitude played Trevor LaBaonte & Gilad Atzmon