|AAJ: Your new album Xenophonia has been received by critics as quite a departure from what you've recorded up until now.
BZ: There are differences in the way it was done and there are differences certainly in the end result, compared to the rest of what I've done, but for me it's a complete continuation of the things that I was launching already. For me it's not 'now I stop what I was doing and do something completely different', I just took more time to work on the sound—the vertical dimension—the colors, the profundity, which sound goes where. For example, on some of the instruments I play, I had this set-up which was acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes and customized Fender Rhodes which gives me quite a lot of possibilities sound-wise— mixing the piano with Fender Rhodes which I already did onTranspacifik (Label Bleu, 2003). That's why I say it is a continuation; I already had these ideas for that record which was like, two or three years ago. The Fender Rhodes that I had in the studio was really not good so I didn't use it. I organized myself and I had two of them! [laughs] In general, about the performance, we were all working on textures and sounds more than who's going to be the fastest, that's where the difference for me is.
I played with guys like Ben Perowsky, who is a drummer from Brooklyn who is actually in my working trio since just after the release of Transpacifik.. So I just wanted to get into the studio and do something and the good thing was I didn't have the obligation, a luxury given to me by Label Bleu, to come out of the studio with a CD in my hand, you know. So what we did was just sit and play. I had a few tunes that were supposed to be tunes but the rest was just playing with the tape turning and that's it. Then it took like six months to listen to it at home with the multi-track while I’m imagining the thing afterwards. Then in the meantime Ben Perowsky stopped. He had many obligations back in the States and Ari Hoenig took the role and we did the second recording six months after the first. In the meantime I had composed some tunes and we did the same thing, just playing and seeing what was there. So I ended up with quite a lot of material and then I was obliged to put this material down on the famous form of CD, which was 60 minutes. Don't make it more than 60 minutes! That's at least what most producers think. So that's the short story about it.
For me the important thing, the year of work, more than a year of work on this CD corresponds to a very... I wouldn't use the term “heavy” but very full year of my life—full of changes, with life and death. My daughter was born, my Dad died, I got married for the second time, I moved to a new place, changed manager. I mean, it's like everything you can imagine changed in this one year. As Mingus used to say of his LP releases, he would always put a sticker with a quote from himself: (imitates Mingus) “This is the best recording I've ever made!” So this is exactly what I’m doing—“this is the best record I ever made!” [laughs]