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15 Questions to John Lindberg/ String Trio of New York

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Feeling well here in Kerhonkson, New York.

What's on your schedule right now?
Preparing for a weekend of performances and recording with Wadada Leo Smith's Organic Resonance project, then of course the String Trio of New York's Interpretations series performance, after which we head to Berlin to perform at the Discover US Festival on April 30. Also, having just turned 50, am hard at work on my Year 50 album, a compendium of my diverse recent musical projects and writings.

The "Interpretations" series is celebrating its 20th season this year. In which way does this bring back personal memories for you?
Having personally developed my work through immersion in the now historic "Loft Jazz" era of the 70's and early eighties, I always felt that Interpretations was key to giving a forum to that continuum of musical creativity, and various other outgrowths connected to it. I've had the pleasure of hearing many great Interpretations events over the years, and have also enjoyed the distinct opportunity to perform in some.
Always good times, really good times.

What, to you, makes "Interpretations" stand out from the cornucopia of contemporary music series?
It's diversity of composers and ensembles presented, with a unique view to music that melds composition and improvisation in a multitude of ways. Also the wide freedom given to the artists to present their work in the light they see best fits their music.

In which way, would you say, has "Interpretations" been marked by its location – is there something typically New Yorkian about it?
It is definitely New Yorkian, as referenced before by its outgrowth of the New York historicity clearly connected to it, but also by its vitality, energy, experimental vision, and amazing diversity of artists presented--all qualities I identify as indeed New Yorkian. That said, its importance and impact far transcends the regionality of New York.

How would you describe and rate the music scene of the country you are currently living in?
Exceedingly vital, inspired and invigorated from the side of artistic creation, and exceedingly cautious, conservative, and, well, just plain weak from the point of view of quality performing opportunities. I feel this penalizes audiences as well as artists. This is of course a generalization, but having been on the scene for over three decades, of course there has been huge changes, everything always changes, but the opportunities to present creative music in quality conditions throughout the country has definitely deteriorated...and I believe that too will change in time.. .thankfully and hopefully.

Speaking about your own music: How do you see the relationship between sound and composition?

As the organization and expression of sonic matter.

In which way, would you say, is your cultural background reflected in your work?
Everything I have ever experienced in life resonates to one degree or another in my music... and that includes being exposed to and interacting with a plethora of cultures.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?

I don't separate them at all, rather I see them as the same process. One spontaneous, instant and completely of the moment, the other allowing for reflection and molding over time at a slower pace. Melding the two into a singular musical language is essentially the basis for much of my work.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What's your approach to performing on stage?
One where the performers reach a unified place of expression that transcends thought as to their interaction and communicates and visceral experience experience to the audience that touches their hearts, often in manners indescribable by words.
My personal approach is to always go to that special place "beyond thought" and allow for unfettered in the moment musical creation--again straight from the heart.

How would you define the term "interpretation"? How important is it for you to work closely together with the artists performing your work?
Interpretation is the execution of a creative idea, malleable to the degree the given interpreters can mold it. It is extremely important for me to work closely with the artists performing my work, as in most instances I write for individual and collective musical personalities as a prime consideration--over and above the consideration of instrumentation, for example.

Russian composer Alexander Danilevski said: "The musical innovations of the 21st century will not be intonational ones; they will be based on developing a new musical form and dramaturgy." What are your thoughts on this?
It is a great statement. However no one can know what musical innovations will be based on. But we can project opinions, and the one cited is certainly a worthy one.

Would you say that a lack of education is standing in the way of audiences in their appreciation of contemporary composition?
Quite the contrary--I feel preconceptions that often come from so-called formal education tend to stand more in the way of openly absorbing contemporary music than they help appreciate it. I believe a sort of "re-education" would be helpful and is necessary. And of course, being exposed to new forms of creativity can often come from so-called educational environments, but I still believe most audience have to expend some efforts of their own to search out the art in the world that speaks to them the most deeply.

How, do you feel, could contemporary compositions reach the attention of a wider audience without sacrificing their soul?
By in fact expanding the expression of their their soul, making the inner truth of composers being projected the focal point--that catches audiences attention, I've seen it and experienced it over and over. Shallow marketing efforts and so forth leave me, and I believe most audiences, bored and beleaguered by comparison.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
Great Music.
Music that transcends styles and lies decidedly "beyond category".
That said, it would embrace elements of jazz, classical, contemporary composition, hip-hop, rock, limits, but again a focus on a forum for artists expressing their inner truths, regardless of how that expression is stylistically molded.

As a leader:
Tha Sound of Truth (Planet Arts/LindyEditions) 2007
Duets 1 (between the lines) 2005
Winter Birds (between the lines) 2005
Ruminations upon Ives and Gottschalk (between the lines)
Arrears (Red Toucan Records)
Two by Five (between the lines) 2001
A Tree Frog Tonality (between the lines) 2000
The Catbird Sings (Black Saint) 2000
Bounce (Black Saint) 1997
Luminosity (Music And Arts) 1996)
Soundpost: Works for Piano and Double Bass (Music And Arts) 1995
Resurrection of a Dormant Soul (Black Saint, 1995)
Quartet Afterstorm (Black Saint) 1994
The Fool School (AA) 1992)
Dodging Bullets (Black Saint) 1992
The Memory of Water (Label Bleu) 1991
Shoot First (Ear-Rational) 1989
As Tears Go By (ITM) 1988 
Relative Reliability (West Wind) 1988
The Amiens Concert (Label Bleu) 1987)
Transition (FMP) 1987
Trilogy of Works for Eleven Instrumentalists (Black Saint) 1984
The East Side Suite (Sound Aspects) 1983
Haunt of the Unresolved (Nato) 1983
Give and Take (Black Saint) 1982
Team Work (Cecma) 1982
Unison (Cecima) 1981
Dimension 5 (Black Saint) 1981
Duo (Anima) 1980
Comin' and Goin'(Leo) 1979

With String Trio of New York:

Frozen Ropes (Barking Hoop) 2005
Gut Reaction (OmniTone) 2003
Faze Phour: A Twenty Year Retrospective (Black Saint) 1998
String Trio of New York with Anthony Davis: Happy Valley Blues (Music & Arts) 1997
Blues...? (Black Saint) 1994
An Outside Job (AA) 1993
Octagon (Black Saint) 1993
Intermobility (Arabesque) 1992
Time Never Lies (Stash) 1990
Ascendant (Stash) 1989
String Trio of New York and Jay Clayton (West Wind) 1987
Natural Balance (Black Saint) 1986
Rebirth of a Feeling (Black Saint) 1985
Common Goal (Black Saint) 1983
Area Code 212 (Black Saint) 1981
First String (Black Saint) 1979

John Lindberg

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