|The journey that led to this date has been a long one for David Haney (b. 1955, Fresno, CA) and me. I believe I first began rejecting David's projects around 1996. My rejections were not because I didn't find David's presentations and musical personality interesting (I did), but more often than not because I felt they needed further development or had technical glitches so numerous and reoccuring it added an almost comical element. And each rejection on my part was met by David with interest, understanding, and he was often in agreement. The technical difficulties were particularly frustrating. I mentioned to David at one point that, were he not based on the West Coast, we might undertake a CIMP recording project where he need only concentrate on his art/music. Even so, in 2001 we cobbled together a program of his music which I felt offered a fair (if imperfect) document of his music (Cadence Jazz Records 1136).
Time passed and David and I continued to listen and engage in a dialogue about his music. David's numerous demos found him in the presence of many notable and "name" artists. Almost from the beginning there was one artistic personality that I felt really connected with David and caused a synthesis that was greater than the sum of the parts: Julian Priester (b.1935, Chicago, IL); the two had an association that dated back to the 1990s. David agreed with my assessment and we continued to exchange music and dialogue. Then, in January 2004, David and Julian played a club in Belgium. The music (Cadence Jazz Records 1179) was extraordinary and recorded without any technical subversions. David seemed to have found his voice and was comfortable in uncompromisingly coming on with it.
David is persistent and works with little fanfare in pursuing his muse; I usually find out about his tours after the fact. So when he said he would like to do a CIMP date, and was coming east, I was delighted though not surprised. I was further delighted that Julian Priester, the artist with whom I felt he was most inventive, would be along. Julian began working with Sun Ra's Chicago band in the early ‘50s and was known to me, while I was growing up, for his tenures with Dinah Washington, Max Roach, Ray Charles, and the Duke Ellington band.
The third member of the group was not so easily decided. David is very deliberate about his music and while we set up the date at the end of 2004, it wasn't until the Spring of 2005 that he settled on the instrumentation and the individual. Basically I think David felt (and I agreed) the bass would give the color that best complements the soul of the music and its exposition. David asked me about Adam Lane (b.1968, Brooklyn, NY), who had been a member of David's collective group around the turn of the century. For me, it was a no-brainer as, having worked with and encouraged Adam for a number of years, I know that he is sensitive, compositional, supportive while allowing for rhythmic freedom, and a major presence in the music.
If you think I was looking forward to working together with these three exceptionally inventive artists, you are correct.Getting to this position took almost ten years, or, in the bigger sense: a lifetime. One might even say (and please excuse me) that this road to CIMP has been paved with the best of inventions.
Most of the first 24 hours of this get-together were devoted to eating, conversation, and sleeping. Davidand Julian had flown in to Syracuse, New York, on the 10th where Adam, on his way north from New York City, picked them up on the 11th and, by the 12th, everyone was well rested and ready to go.
We arrived at Gilbert Hall around 10 a.m. on what promised to be another day of excessive heat and humidity—all part of the summer heat wave of 2005 which affected most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.
David set to testing the piano, announcing it to his satisfaction, and gave the seat over to Julian who spent a bit of time tuning his trombone off the reflected resonance from the piano strings. All of which gave a rather suspended calming ambiance, in effect a brief unintended minimalist solo concert for trombone and piano sound board. Adam then bowed a bit and they moved into the sound check. More logistical conferences within the trio and, by a bit after 11 a.m., we were into concert; Pteradactyl's Lunchbox Pt. One, a hazy piece, reflective of the day's atmosphere with long tones, staccato beats, and percussive flurries nicely juxtaposed into a structural tension. A nice way to start and a good lead into Pteradactyl's Lunchbox Pt. Two, a construction purposely programmed by David to complement Pteradactyl's Lunchbox Pt. One. More intuitive programming followed on Pteradactyl's Lunchbox Pt. Three, a piece with obvious European roots that turns through-solos and a series of hand-offs and intrusions into a ride of some momentum.
Ironically David then said, "Well, just for variety...," and outlined the next dynamic structure: Pteradactyl's Lunchbox Pt. Four and Pteradactyl's Lunchbox Pt. Five, two connected pieces, each with four sections. It is here perhaps that the cumulative presence of this music and the extraordinary musicality and interweaving of the trio comes into sharpest focus.
We then took a break, all feeling very enthused by the preceding events. On returning, however, things seemed to turn more soberly to average and what seemed to me almost a distraction in music. The focus returned on for You Span the Distance, a nice Blues marked by the occasional irregular metronomic beat from both Adam's and David's bare feet slapping the floor. Following this, David called for the (fast) variation of the same piece. More breaks, followed by more music until, after Vahalia Junction, I suggested we end. It was apparent to me that we had more than enough to meet the CIMP standard and recording additional music makes my decision when choosing which goodies I will have to eliminate (in order to accomodate the finite CD time restriction) more difficult.
Overall this session went down easily; barely a false start and onlya few weak moments. David's is certainly a fresh piano style. To play along with him demands that one be a strong player who must be able to hear David's music and, in effect, understand the topography of it as well as hold their own dynamic presence while contributing a presence worth listeningto.
I believe the average listener, even the well seasoned listeners, will find this music a little unfamiliar. With further listening—and as it becomes more familiar—it will sound fresh and you will start to hear the whole. In time, the freshness/newness will fade but not its interest nor itsartistic satisfactions.
Robert D. Rusch - Aug. 12, 2005