Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jim Cooper and the Marching Band of Gypsies

Some days sneak up on you and surprise you in the most incredible ways. It is not always the case that the incredibility is so positive as it was today.

As has been mentioned and is perhaps more than obvious, but by this time we were tired. Long hard days with little sleep, and today was just going to be that. And it started out that way. With nothing scheduled this morning, we took a little extra time before leaving our luxurious Bridgeport digs. We arrived at the space about an hour later than usual to do our routine of turning on the heater and checking out what really happened the night before.

We really were looking forward to this day, and hoped it would remain as relaxing as it was starting, because tonight we were all set to play with vibraphonist Jim Cooper.  We played with Jim Cooper back in 2007 in Holland, Michigan during our first tour of the US where we piggybacked our live painting with live music with Tali's original multi-media show, Mo(ve)ment. Since then we have stayed in touch and made a few attempts to work together again. As luck would have it as plans were being made for the Colorboration Project Chicago, Jim was already going to be in the city for a gig the next night.

2007 with Jim Cooper in Holland, MI

We said to each other several times during the day about how smooth it was going to be to have an easy going and relatively quiet evening being reunited with Jim.

About 4:30 or 5:00 Gabe showed up and said, "They can be here tonight." Whatever he was talking about did not register in either of our heads.

"Who can make it?" I asked.

"The marching band." Gabe replied.

Well this suddenly made me nervous because Jim was planning on playing solo and was not so interested in anyone being there to play unless he brought them. So I told Gabe it would be cool if they played first and then we would do a solo set with Jim. With Gabe set out to see if his marching band of gypsies could be there by 6:00 or 6:30.

A little before 7:00 at the appointed time Jim Cooper showed up with his vibes and a gig bag full of his favorite percussive instruments. And you guessed it no marching band yet, so I was all set to have them play after Jim or in between his sets depending on what he ended up doing.

As Jim was set up and thinking about starting his first set, the marching band started loading in and I was not sure what would happen next. But by the time Jim was well into his first ten minutes or so, the marching band made up of Gabe Patti and friends were sitting behind Jim quietly watching the show.

Jim Cooper and Gabe Patti
Jim Cooper is a quiet man and also a consummate improvisor. It was not long before he could sense that it might be a good idea to invite these musicians to join it with him. I figured he knew what he was doing and none of us had any idea as to what would happen next.

What did happen next was totally of the moment and a little bit crazy and a little bit out there.

Slowly, one by one the marching band musicians started to join in and as each started the colors shifted and things got more and more lively. As with all of the other nights before, when we paint like this it is very easy for us to slip into the zone, and it is just the paint and the music. In fact just about anyone could walk in and we probably would not notice. This was the case tonight as while we were completely in to the moment and were settled in at this point with full orchestration, improv style, suddenly something changed. Suddenly there was a bottom in the sound that was not there before. Not only was it not there before, but with the instruments that I knew were in the room, I knew there was no way that they could generate that full bottom sound and rhythm. Yet it was somehow familiar.

Enter Rick Neuhaus and reenter Corky and Donna from Sheboom.

Tali and I did not stop or turn around until the musicians stopped for a break. It wasn't until then that I understood where that new shape of sound was coming from.

We ended up doing two more sets that kept getting more and more obtuse. We decided that this would be as good a time as any to paint our second and final large painting, and we did... in a big way.
One trombone lead the big weird parade.
After painting on what was our video projection screen, I won't say things came apart, but if it was obtuse before it was off the charts now. I turned around in front of that huge painting and through the beam of light from the projector, I saw Gabe riding a vintage bike around in circles and man playing the sousaphone following a woman playing the snare drum in a fur cowled down coat. I looked at Tali and she said, "This is a Fellini film."

That is what we named the painting.

Fellini still wet.

©2011 The Colorboration Project is the property of Tali Farchi and Royce Deans.

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