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Technical Services, Music, Art, & Info

As comfortable as a cactus suit...

Under protest, here's a brief bio of Yours Truly:

Born on the planet.  In Canada.  Specifically, Montreal.  In 1960.

I've lived in the USA since I was 9 years old.  Currently I reside in Winnetka, California.

I'm about 5 foot 9, and I'm average, physically.

Besides the Audio and Computer stuff on the other pages here, among the things I used to do or have done, and things I know a lot about or have a special interest in, are the following:

Animals in general, zoos, dogs, cats, tropical fish, oceanography, marine biology, scuba diving

Fencing Foil & Epee, coaching fencing, competing in tournaments, martial arts philosophy

Science-fiction book collecting/reading, Cosmology & Astrophysics

Modern Art appreciation, Art galleries, writing skills.

Humor of all kinds

GR Extended BIO:


 

I was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1960.  My parents were Hungarian immigrants who left Europe in the 1956 revolutions there.  My youth was not spectacular for it's musical achievements, although I was always a curious and driven-to-learn sort of child.  My parents observed me listening to music with a great deal of attention when I was as young as two years old, though. My father was a great music lover—he would buy used instruments from the Salvation Army and bring them home to plink on. He loved Gershwin, big band jazz, and movie music a lot. When I was maybe 7 or 8, my folks took me to a piano teacher for lessons, for about a year, but none of it took--I hated the teacher and the practice.  I've come to regret not paying more attention then, but I think it left me with some subconscious guilt about not learning an instrument well, and maybe this drove me later in life when I found what was to be my chosen instrument, the bass guitar.

 

When I was 15 years old, we had moved to Los Angeles, California, and I was struggling to fit in.  I had three friends at high school, and we were all self-professed nerds and geeks.  One of my friends was very into music, and when we hung out at his house, he would play mostly Yes records, and regale me with his hero-worship of Yes' bassist, Chris Squire, and then tell me idealistic fantasies about how he would buy a bass and learn to play just like Squire one day.  It turns out that I was the one that got a bass, and I was the one infected with Squire-worship, and I was the one that got the musical thing going on.

 

It piqued my interest.  I have this friend to thank for even making me aware that the bass had such an important role in music, and for showing me how to listen to the different parts and instruments in songs.  I ended up buying a homemade wood-shop bass another friend was selling, and that was my first crappy axe.  A year later, my big sister, seeing how obsessed I was becoming with learning this instrument, bought me my first real bass guitar.  This was a used, cream-colored Rickenbacker 4001 made in 1973--I got it in 1975 for my birthday.  It cost about $300 back then and I still own it.  I think it's worth over $5000 now.  Of course, Squire played the Ricky, and so I had to also. 

 

    

 

I also ended up getting a Sunn Coliseum amp later on, like Squire had, and Moog Taurus pedals, like Squire had, and effects like Squire had, and eventually learned all the Yes bass parts as well.

 

     

 

 He's still an idol of mine, and when I met him a few years ago it was a thrill.  I had him autograph his first solo record for me, and I told him I thought he was a GOD.  He was very humble and said it was kind of me to say so, but there were so many players now that were better than him.  Maybe there are those that have better chops, but for sheer amount of memorable, musical, tasty bass parts, I feel Squire stands alone, to this day. 

 

I now own almost two dozen instruments of various kinds, and tons of effects and other studio gear.  What can I say?  Creative people need their tools.

 

 

 

The high school summers were all about shedding--I wanted to understand the instrument and play cool stuff, maybe be in a band.  I remember the first summer I had it I spent a month or two just trying to master the finger stretch and bass lines from Pink Floyd's "Money", which is mostly in 7/4 time, I think.  I listened to all sorts of prog-rock, and those were my first real instrumental influences.  Bands like Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, ELP, Rush, and Return to Forever. 

 

While a senior in high school I jammed with a cover band for a short time, then I joined with some other guys in a better cover band to play parties for money--we did a few parties, but my little practice amp was shitty and I needed something better, so I got my first real amp, a Fender Bassman 10 with 4 10" speakers in it and I think 200 watts of power.  It sounded great but could barely be heard over the other loud players.

 

 

Shedding, more shedding, and still more shedding throughout high school.  Then I went to college at CSUN and through some friends I met there I learned about and went to see a band called PaperBag, playing on UCLA's quad.  They were doing something incredible to me.  I could barely understand what was going on, but they seemed so serious and earnest and committed to their music that I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I approached them.

 

It turned out that their second guitarist, an amazing musician and later friend by the name of Ken Rosser (they had had no bass player since their inception a couple of years earlier) wanted to leave Paperbag in order to pursue jazz music, and so I was able to audition as his replacement in the band. 

 

The other three guys in the band were amazing people. Mark Segal, who played hundreds of styles of music with conventional drums, hand drums, ethnic percussion, all manner of toys and junk, spouted poetry, and did all the excellent artwork for the albums and gig flyers throughout PB’s career.  There was his younger brother Greg Eric Segal, who was a lead guitarist with all sorts of effects that could get millions of tortured, screaming, ethereal and otherworldly guitar sounds unlike anyone I had ever heard.  Finally there was Kenny Ryman, a most unconventional musician for his time, because though he occasionally played keyboards he also manipulated tape loops in real-time, used turntables and vinyl as instruments (you have to remember this was 1985…WAY before hip-hop began and DJ culture started using turntables as instruments) and tweaked everything through various delays and whatnot, and acted as the band’s recording engineer early on.  They’d all been in other bands before, played music forever already, and were veteran performers.

 

We hit it off so well both musically and personally that after just a few “jams” I was in.  A bit later I will explain why what PB did was really not “jamming” at all, and this is key to why I was so entranced with their concepts and mission. 

 

PB was recording EVERYTHING they played and it turns out that our first release together, the cassette-only "VIctimless Crime" is culled from jams done in those first few weeks after I had joined the band. 

 

 

As for my own contributions to that band, I will leave it to others to comment.  I will just say that what I was always trying to accomplish was to at least play something interesting enough that if you listened to nothing else in the track but the bass you could still find something musical and meaningful in it.  My philosophy was that bass should be melodic as well as foundational, grooving but nuanced, emotional and powerful and driving all at the same time.  I'm proud to say that I think I did that at least 50% of the time.

 


 

Of course, I was there and part of the development of our “Theory of Improvisation” and the methods that came out of that.  That’s documented elsewhere and I highly recommend looking into that if you are interested in the meat and potatoes of how we did what we did.

 

I should say something about my feelings on Improvisation as well.  Up until my actual experiences with PB I had only had exposure and experience of “jamming”, the things where all the guys in a band trade solos over known chord changes, known melodic motifs, known rhythms.  It was mostly all worked out ahead of time, all you made up personally was the few bars of your own solo.  And this was back when solos were still done in rock music, unlike nowadays.

The only place you find “soloists” where they make it up on the spot is in jazz, but even in that idiom there are somewhat strict parameters within which you can work.  When a musician gets kind of free and freaky within the song’s context the jazz cats call it “taking it outside” meaning playing beyond the conventional constraints of the average solo, like introducing exotic chords, melody notes not found in the song’s key, poly-rhythmic accents and syncopations.

 

If you are not a musician maybe a lot of my take on this stuff sounds like a mess to you, and maybe it is, so I’ll explain it another way.  If music is a form of non-verbal communication, where I am trying to communicate some idea or vibe to you the audience member using only my musical instrument, then soloing on that instrument in the context of a pre-written and rehearsed tune is basically riffing on established themes, however non-verbal—you are not really saying anything unexpected or unsafe.  I’m probably saying things that have been said before, with only the slight twist and uniqueness afforded by my individual way of playing.

 

On the other hand, if you are ALSO making up the context, melody, rhythms, etc., on the spot, then you may create a truly extemporaneous, spontaneous generation of pure improvisation, in other words, it might be something totally new and unexpected, and maybe it is something NO ONE HAS EVER SAID BEFORE.  Original, novel, and unique are words we use to describe this when it happens.  Interestingly, this kind of playing tends to reflect more of one’s subconscious influences, because you don’t have the luxury of thinking about it too much before you must speak.

 

In polite conversation, we want to think before we speak or we might say something dumb or offensive, but since this is music and not speech, we may instead tap into something more primal and less intellectualized, more honestly expressive of our pre-verbal feelings and emotions.  In music, it’s ok to be “thoughtless” in the sense of “not pre-meditated.”  You can sometimes be amazing and profound in ways pre-meditation would restrict severely.

 

It bears mentioning that the better you play your instrument in terms of knowing how to get what is in your head and heart at any given moment to come out through your hands, the more expressively one can play.

 

Then, you must also acknowledge (to whatever degree your nature allows) that TOTAL FREEDOM in music is both most exhilarating and most scary.  You have no safety net of known chord progressions, known rhythms to fall back on.

You have no ability to predict or prepare for what is coming at you from your band mates—you can only react to it in the moment it is happening.  You must trust yourself.  Cliché that it is, with great power comes great responsibility: an effective improviser in really not and should never be a musical anarchist—it isn’t that there are no rules, it’s that the rules come and go as fast as the notes do.  You have to be uncommonly sensitive to everything around you, the playing, your gear, band members, audience vibe, trending vibe of the notes just heard, your own feelings and reactions to what you are experiencing etc.  You try to predict and shape where the music is going as you are instantly reacting to where it actually does go.  It’s a heavy challenge for even the most seasoned musician.  We had all sorts of people tell us they’d be TERRIFIED to death to try doing what we did.  We also had all sorts of people beg us to let them sit in and play with us, so they could see if they could rise to the challenge.

 

It’s scary and it’s glorious.  That’s because there’s no safety net.  You are blindfolded with a paintbrush in your hand and a canvas before you, and your goal is to make Art.  Sometimes, almost as if by random chance, you do, except the only thing keeping it from being totally random is the musician BEING THERE.  We in PB did this, more often than not, and that’s something I am very proud of.   Sometimes we didn’t make Art, just noise, and we rightly regarded these pieces as failures.  We called it the “turkey factor”—the fact that not all improvisations will qualify as “artistic.”  It’s a job hazard, and we worked really hard to keep the turkey factor to a low percentage of our pieces.  That’s why we rehearsed, developed a theory and methodology, and did endless philosophizing about improvisation.  We were always trying to eliminate the turkey factor.

 

That first rehearsal with the PB guys, I was infected and wholly taken over by the mad viral meme of this idea.  I was as converted as if I’d been body-snatched by aliens.  When it works, and you make ART, there is no better feeling.  None.

 

I got TOTALLY nuts into the Bag thing.  We were experimentalists in a mad scientist, wizard alchemist way.  Having no boundaries other than our own musical limitations and of course, cash flow, we were into so many ways of making and offering up sounds and musical ideas, such as the use of effects processing.  I started collecting effects to use with the bass.  I built my first of what was to be three (now four) generations of pedal boards.  We all played various instruments and tried to get unique sounds.  I remember a guy coming up to me as I was setting up for a bag show and he was marveling at all my pedals.  He said "Wow, I have never seen a guitarist with that many effects pedals."

To which I replied, "Um, I'm the bass player.  The guitarist is over there."  The dude's eyes bugged out and his jaw dropped.  I guess he never saw a bass player with more than a chorus or fuzz.

 

 

I was thinking that I would collect all the most interesting and varied bass instruments I could afford and become an all-around master of low-frequency sound production.  Over the PB years I collected my first fretless instrument,

extended-range bass, upright acoustic bass, and even a Chapman Stick™.

I also bought a pair of used Cerwin-Vega folded horn cabinets covered in carpet to use live—they were LOUD!

 

We played a lot of live shows before and after getting signed to a record contract and the feeling was always a combination of elation, fear, pleasure, pain, high achievement and despairing futility.  Shouldering the responsibility of PB was simply hard, like a relationship with someone you love that doesn’t always love you back.  Muses are fickle things: improvising on a regular basis and creating something cool on the spot over a period of years is very, very hard.  The demands on one emotionally and creatively are staggering and most musicians could not do it for one 45-minute set let alone hundreds of sets over a 5-year period.  Almost no one understands this if they have not lived it, as I and my PB brothers have.  It bonds us in a way that soldiers in a trench war get bonded together by their shared struggle.  When it worked and we were all percolating together, it was heavenly nirvana, the music felt like it was channeled through us from some sacred spiritual place of perfection.  When it didn’t work, our feet of clay became apparent to all, and we experienced a feeling of dispiriting and wasted effort.  It’s important that you understand this: the feeling of “rightness” we got when we all locked in and created something greater than our individual selves could have done separately was so strong and addictive that we almost had no choice but to continue trying to reach that pinnacle again and again.  When you are “in the zone”—something a lot of competitive athletes know about—the feeling is indescribably good.  You feel like you can make no mistakes, you step outside yourself, and you touch something ineffably greater than yourself.  I’m not religious at all, but this seems really close to the idea of “knowing God” that the spiritual among us speak of.

 

It also bears noting that I think this sort of “intensive training” onus is responsible for much of my rapid musical growth at the time.  When I started with PB I was still pretty new to the bass, having played for only about 5 years.  But I was deadly serious about getting chops, getting groove, and getting better all the time.  I practiced on my own incessantly, studying my heroes and their playing.

 

I listened to the bands I mentioned earlier, but I had picked up a bunch of new influences along the way.  When I played one gig in high school, someone told me I had great chops but no groove or soul in my playing.  A friend helped me with this, turning me on to Motown and funk—I spent a couple of years just learning to get my groove together.  For a bassist, this means intimate control of timing and length of notes, and a deep understanding and appreciation for what it means to play “in the pocket.”

 

The guys in PaperBag had SO MANY disparate influences and they could not have found a more eager digester of those same in me.  I learned about King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Weather Report, ELO, Frank Zappa, Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Dee Murray, Dennis Dunaway, John Entwistle, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt, Ralph Lundsten, Brian Eno, Deep Purple, and countless others that I absorbed into my musical sensibilities.  I learned to appreciate modern jazz and modern classical, as well as the older giants on whose shoulders these genres developed. These and other inspirations helped me fuel the ideas that I would bring to the band, and I still listen to all these and more.  I am always hungry for a cool new sound, song, or band.

 

In the Paperbag years we played great gigs at big festivals, and we played shitty gigs for the busboys in the otherwise empty bar.  We played in cutting-edge art galleries and we played in back alleys.  We often played for 10,000 avid KXLU listeners live on-the-air, and we sometimes played for completely ignorant haters of “art-rock”.

 

 

We got signed to SST records on the strength of our prior cassette release and ultimately made four albums for them by recording our improvisations live in the studio, then choosing the best pieces by completely democratic voting and releasing them to the public on the SST label.  We also appeared on two SST compilation records to critical acclaim.

 

 

We were the cheapest date in town for our first SST record titled “Ticket to Trauma”; we’d already finished recording and mixing it on our own, Mark Segal had designed and executed all the artwork and packaging mechanicals, so all SST was on the hook for was mastering and distribution.  This album sold really well, but we barely saw a penny for it.

 

 

Our second record for SST was called “A Land Without Fences”, an allusion to the free-thinking boundary-less philosophy we held.  This record also did well in sales, but we got no money for it at all.

 

 

CDs were still kind of a new thing when we made our first one for SST called “Music to Trash”.   This was our longest release to date, with more pieces afforded by virtue of the CD format capacity.  That’s Mark Segal on the front cover, wearing one of my fencing masks while smashing glass in the alley behind Spinhead Studio, using the sounds of breaking glass for one of our pieces.

 

 

Finally, we made a “live” record for SST called “Improvised, My Ass.” In fact, ALL our records were really ‘live’ in the sense that we never did overdubbing, and we never played the same piece twice.  This record has real audience sounds on it like our live shows.  The title comes from an audience member at a show who insisted that we were not improvising at all, since so many of our pieces sounded as if composed.  That was due to our almost telepathic communication with each other, our hand signals, and various other methods of our “theory.”  He didn’t believe it at all, opining “you guys are improvised, my ass!!”  We LOVED that comment as it perfectly justified all we were trying to achieve with our methods, hence the album title.

 

We sold well in Europe, but SST had many problems and issues that ended up screwing all their bands, including us.  Long story made short, we got paid for the first pressing of our first record, and then no more money came our way ever, despite good sales outside the US.

 

 

You see, we all had day jobs and commitments, none of us were still living at home with Mom and Dad, and we had to pay our own way.  SST offered to send us on world tours, but could not pay for our rent while we were gone, and couldn’t pay to support us if we quit our jobs and then had to find work when we got back.

It sucked.  We invented a “By-Proxy Radio Tour” idea where we custom-recorded live sets for 29 different radio stations all over the world that we knew were playing our records, and we sent these out exclusively to those towns.  That was as close as we got to getting out of LA, except for occasional gigs we could drive to up and down the west coast of California.

 

Around 1989, exhaustion and disillusion set in.  PB was no further along in our mission to popularize improvised music than when we started, at least that was how we mostly felt.  Personally, I was unable to get away from the feeling that I had lost my muse, that I was quoting myself and replaying ideas by rote reflex, and that I was no longer tapping anything original in myself.  I felt like the improvisations were becoming all the same, nothing new was being said anymore, and that I was just as much to blame for that as anyone.  I felt like we were just going through the motions, the audience was being let down and were just being kind to us, and we had stopped evolving musically.  This was one of the most depressing realizations I’d ever had.  To once have flown with Angels, and now find I had mere feet of clay…it was just so sad.

 

We started to drift into other things.  I began working with Greg Segal in his solo band called “Cold Sky.”  We did gigs for about a year together, and I added my bass parts to his composed material.  Greg has released three CDs of this material along with many other of his fine solo projects on his website “Phantom Airship.”  Greg is also responsible for PB’s first online presence by creating http://www.paperbagtheory.com. I also joined a cover band called “Doctor Blue” and played parties, too, around this time.

 

 

In my personal life a lot of changes had occurred.  I had spent 5 years trying to be a Biology major at CSUN to eventually do something science-based or medicine-based, but I realized I had been doing this to please my parents and also to realize a childhood dream I was no longer interested in pursuing.  I was taking lots of general education classes (this is when I finally took classes in music theory and fundamentals) on top of my major, but I was really more interested in partying, playing music, competing on the college fencing team (I was really into swordsmanship for several years and got quite good at it) and meeting girls.

 

My Dad passed away in my 5th year of college, and this messed my head up so much I couldn’t concentrate at school, so I dropped out when my grades began failing. I went to work for the County in a bio-related job.  I met a girl and we got married too soon.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but when I lost my county job I then thought I might find my new career path in the professional audio field.  As a player I was always fascinated by the magic of recording and mixing—I thought I might be good at it.  It turned out that I am. I applied and was accepted to the Los Angeles Recording Workshop, a vocational school that taught all aspects of recording engineering.  This would be the start of my professional career.  I was to learn that I would never stop learning.  When I began in the field, people were still using tape, digital devices were still expensive, and there was not yet any internet…as technology evolved around me I learned I had to keep adding to my skills and knowledge every day in order to stay marketable.  This fit me perfectly, as I always need new challenges, I enjoy the technical stuff, and I always thirst for knowledge.

 

My marriage began to sour after the first three years, though I stayed in it for a long time after it was over, trying to revive the corpse of it, to no avail.  This period in my life was hellish, and really it was only my music that kept me going and enthused about living.  Out of recording school I got my first audio job, as a tape editor of recorded medical lectures, using a razor-blade to slice out coughs and long pauses and weird vocal noises—it mostly sucked but I was ON MY WAY in the world of PROFESSIONAL AUDIO!  I worked doing this for several years, learned mastering and dialog editing, and I was a key figure in this company’s transition to the digital computerized editing they do now.  I redesigned their studio and trained everyone on the new systems.  I eventually lost this job because of the stress of my marriage making me impossible to work with.  Of course things got better and since then I’ve had many jobs working with audio in non-player capacities.  I’ve done everything from being a bench tech for audio gear, to ADR editor for foreign language films, to audio software testing for computer interfaces, to teaching all the recording arts.  I’m a self-professed computer geek who builds systems, and I am a tech guru to all my friends and family.  I have a master’s knowledge of audio and sound.

 

Around the time things were going belly-up in my marriage, I worked with a friend of PB drummer/percussionist Mark Segal, the late great guitarist Bob Lansing, better known as Enoch Hain, lead guitarist of the Dickies, a seminal punk band.  We had a project called “Sandbox Revolt” that worked and recorded together for about three years, only doing two gigs and never releasing anything unfortunately.  I worked with a band called “Listen”, and helped form another band called “Tao Jones”…some of my best bass work in composed material is in these unknown band projects.  All of these projects were somewhat prog-rock-ish.

 

Then I got a call from a fellow named Mike Day, who had a band called “Ritual”,

and I met him, auditioned, and then became a member of this band for about 9 years.  We wrote a bunch of songs together, did a bunch of gigs, but the band was plagued by personnel changes, and we went through lead guitarists and drummers as if we were eventually going to use everyone in the greater Los Angeles area.  The core members, me and Mike and Jon Tompkins kept at it , though and we did manage to get one amazing album release out, called “Nothing Strange” which bridged funk, jazz, punk, prog, and you-name-it styles into a very unique and powerful sound.  If you find this album out there give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

In the time after attrition had claimed PB, Mark Segal went off to other projects, but of course we kept in touch.  He called me one day and told me that the time was nigh to form a new band based upon our theory of improvisation, and he had just the right members, and would I be interested in holding the bass chair?  I was interested indeed, and this band became “Bag:Theory.”  I was also working and doing gigs with another cover/party band at the time called “N2it” for fun.  I was learning hundreds of songs and styles.


Bag:Theory did a lot of gigs for a couple of years, and even put out an excellent album titled “A Good Ass-Kicking Wears Many Faces”, but by then I was wanting to do something else and I was trying to concentrate on my professional career.  I was still working with Ritual, but that band was going nowhere.  I was getting divorced.  Music was not making me happy anymore. 

 

 

I threw myself into other things.  Work.  Trying to find a new significant other while recovering from the pain and trauma of my failed relationship.  In this time I recorded with a great band called Death&Taxe$ on one of their albums, and I joined another excellent band called “Shut Up Marie” that did a lot of kick-ass heavy rock, and SUM, as we called it, played a lot of gigs as well for a couple of years, recording a live CD and a studio CD.

 

 

Throughout all this, I kept playing my bass, practicing on my own more rather than trying to play with others.  I picked up new influences, bought other instruments, and honed my craft.

 

I met another girl, and got re-married.  She is everything my first was not.  After five years with her, I am much more settled than I ever have been before.  Because of her, I rediscovered myself and my artistic side.  I composed my first solo record, that I hope to release soon, and I’ve begun work on a followup.

I joined a band called “Bldg 7” for a brief time, and then after that joined a blues/r&b/funk cover band called “the Ray Jay Band” that played bars for good money. I still play with those guys from time to time.

 

And technology marched on.  I think it’s important to mention that during all this time, the legacy of PB was not dead.  We had been pretty serious about taping everything we did, rehearsals, gigs, etc., and during a period close after my first marriage fell apart I found myself custodian of our tape collection.  I had time on my hands, unemployed and looking for work, so I made a project of creating an archival record of the taped materials.  I got boxes and labels and I sorted, dated, and noted every tape I had—reel-to-reel, cassette, and video formats. I collected all the information into a big notebook.  This was sometime in the mid 1990’s.

 

After graduating from recording school I tried to work in the industry and had many jobs over the years.  I became a computer geek, learning all I could, building my own systems, and in general learning all I could about audio and technology pertinent to my field.  My first gig out of school was as a tape editor, manually slicing and dicing tape.  Doing this job really trained my ears to detect the smallest sound anomalies and I learned how to fix them.  After that I went on to work in film and video audio post-production for a while.  After that I went into tech support, bench testing and installation, then software and audio interface hardware testing.  I was also teaching part-time at the recording school.  All along I was learning engineering tricks and doing little recording and mixing and editing projects along the way.  I got my Pro Tools Operator Certification, and even did some mixes for some famous people, most notably Robbie Krieger of the Doors, for whom I mixed a tune on his second solo album, “Singularity”, which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Pop Album in 2011 but did not win. Oh well.

 

Over the period of time between 1990 and 2000, the entertainment industry pretty much phased out most analog devices in favor of digital ones.  This led to a problem for PB because our archives held almost exclusively analog tape sources.  These were getting old, and reaching the time when their actual integrity would be compromised.  We had dozens of multi-track reels that were past their shelf life, hundreds of cassettes, over a dozen videotapes, and they were all in danger of being irretrievably lost.  This material is priceless to us, and we all knew that there was so much good stuff in there that if it ever became financially possible we could go into this veritable treasure trove and find all sorts of never-before released material to market. But we had to preserve the material.  I had moved and given the archive in it’s entirety into the safekeeping of Kenny Ryman, but his own financial problems forced him to put the archives into a storage facility.  After we got this archive back out and to me, and then now back to Kenny, we were finally able to arrange to transfer our reels into digital format due to the wonderful charity of Frank Rosato, an independent audio engineer with his own professional Woodcliff studio, whom we’d met and worked with off and on for over fifteen years.  He’d recorded Bag:Theory, Ritual, and a bunch of other things we PB members had been involved with over the years.  His kindness finally enabled us broke guys to salvage our recordings for posterity.

 

Also, as a result of technical progress, it was now cheap and easy to transfer the video and cassette stuff on our own using home computers and inexpensive interfaces that had just lately become available.  We are now well into the process of digitizing everything we have, and this means we can actually begin reintroducing the public to our material and hopefully find a new fan base.  We began this process a couple of years ago, culminating in our first new CD release in over twenty years called “Airwave Rituals”, a sort of best-of compilation from our “By-Proxy Radio Tour,” which I edited, mixed, and mastered with Kenny Ryman’s assistance. This is but one aspect of our dream these days.

 

 

Time elapsed since the first PB recordings?  First was back in 1983 folks…do the math.  We’re now officially “classic.”  We are “legendary.”  We did improvised music in a way no one else did and that few have ever imitated.  We did not “jam” a la endless noodling over two chords.  We used a bona-fide methodology no one else had.  In very real ways, we were pioneers in our limited niche.  Nowadays, there is a “Jam Band” movement afoot we’d like to tie into and capitalize on…we were doing that twenty-plus years ago.  Also, many of our contemporaries from those days are now getting to their 25th anniversary and there is a lot of nostalgic interest in them, plus some have re-formed and are actually touring again. 

 

We’d like to publish a book on our Theory of Improvisation; over the years all of us have written several essays on this topic, and collected together this would make a very interesting academic read for any improvising musician.  We plan to post videos of live sets we recorded back in our heyday.  We are currently sorting through 4.5 hours of un-released material we recorded back in 1986 for a potential double CD release by this year’s end.  We have nearly an entire MONTH of 24-hour days of material on cassette we could release, in excess of 400 hours of tape.  In other words, what the public knows of us is less than 2% of our actual recorded material.  We think it’s our mission to get this stuff out to you—it doesn’t do anybody any good gathering dust on a shelf.  Some of you may hate it, but some of you might like it, too.  That’s our hope, at least.

 

To sum up this musical autobiography, some mention of future possibilities is in order.  Since I am just now starting my 5th decade of life, I expect more music and creativity lies in my future.  Unlike a lot of my contemporaries who gave up their musical dreams for family and work, I have always maintained them as a crucial part of who I am.  I am a perpetual student of the bass, and I am playing better than I ever have, after over 30 years of practice.  I have more technical expertise at the crafts of writing, performance, and production of music than I ever dreamt I might possess, and I use this expertise every single day, even as I inexorably add to it.   I hope I can play and make music forever.

 

 

Keep improvising!

 

 

 

-G. Radai  2/28/12, Los Angeles, California