As some of you know, I released an album this year called “Beating the Teens” with my band Ideal Bread. While being a labor of love, it was a long labor (about 2 1/2 years), so I have a fair amount of myself invested in this album. I’ve been immensely gratified by the reception it’s gotten, both positive and negative, but I think there’s been some confusion. In the interest of clarity and forthrightness, I thought I’d mention a few things:
- THANK YOU for listening, for giving this CD your time. i sincerely hope you don’t feel like your time was wasted listening to it.
- We offer only ourselves. That is, we can not claim to give you Steve Lacy’s sound. Or even a reminder of his sound. If you truly want a reminder of Lacy’s sound, there are hundreds of records available of his playing where you will be reminded far better than our abilities will allow.
- With that in mind, Ideal Bread’s music is as much a celebration of Steve Lacy’s records as Charlie Parker’s “Anthropology” is a celebration of George Gershwin’s records. And while the depth of Parker’s music is something I can only aspire to, a similar impulse is governing both these (mine and Parker’s) creations. Or at least I think so.
- Ultimately “Beating the Teens” says much more about me (and Kirk, and Tomas and Adam) than it does about Steve Lacy. Certainly insofar as statements by creative individuals endowed with agency are concerned. In this way a line can be drawn from Ideal Bread, to Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho,” to David Mamet’s “Uncle Vanya,” to Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s: A Letter,” etc. In other words, there’s a lot of precedent for my particular approach. In other other words, what’s more interesting: the object? or its source of inspiration? or the relationship between the two?
- Every sound presented by Ideal Bread on “Beating the Teens” was completely intentional. Of course accidents occurred in the studio, but if I liked the sound of those accidents, I kept them on the record. I planned out every structural detail of the album ahead of time as well: the fade-outs, the varying mixing styles, the sequencing. Make no mistake about it, this is a very purposeful and structured object. While I make plenty of missteps, it’s certainly not because I’m lazy or because I haven’t thought things through.
- If “Beating the Teens” is a product of my (and the other members’) imagination, then what on earth was on our minds when we made it? I can’t speak for the others, but in my case, I was thinking about all the expressive and structural possibilities of the jazz quartet. And I was thinking about these not as a jazz musician, but as a jazz fan. As someone with a lot of jazz and non-jazz records who’s spent a lot of time thinking about alternative methods of structuring materials and how that can affect one’s perception of the materials. And I was thinking about how I wanted a large book of tunes for us (Ideal Bread) that would be fun to play and challenging and different every time we played it. So I was never thinking about Steve Lacy’s sound at all when I wrote this music.
- I’m not in the business of reminding the listener of anything. I can’t help it if that happens, but that is never my intention. Acutally, I’m the most anti-nostalgic person I know. So if hearing sounds I’ve created reminds you of something, that speaks more to your unique circumstances and history than it does to my intentions and artistic efforts.
With all this in mind, I’d like to offer 2 caveats to anyone who hasn’t listened to “Beating the Teens” yet:
- You don’t have to know anything about Steve Lacy or his music to listen to this record. While having heard Lacy’s music won’t hurt, listening to Stravinsky or Purcell or Christian Wolff won’t hurt either. That is, I’m not sure listening to Lacy’s records will tell you all that much (at least at first) about Ideal Bread’s “Beating the Teens.” You don’t need any preparation (other than an open mind) to listen to this album.
- If you love Steve Lacy and his albums, there is a very good chance you will not love (and might even hate) “Beating the Teens.” I’m not saying a love of Steve Lacy predisposes you in this direction. I am saying that if your first thought just before our CD starts spinning is about Lacy’s “The Way,” “Vespers,” “The Beat Suite” or innumerable others, then you will probably have a tough time with our offering. And that’s simply because your mind is elsewhere and is not present with the sounds that are currently emanating from their chosen source.
Ideal Bread has no lessons to teach about Steve Lacy. We simply find his music to offer the best containers available for expressing ourselves while in this configuration.