Photo: Reuben Radding
Last week I was in Washington Square Park in NYC to march with Artists for a free world that was joining up with a massive group with the message to end police murder of Black people and to defund the police. I marched a couple weeks before that, but on this one music was a major part of it, and in fact music led the march all the way downtown. I just brought my blue pocket trumpet that had his own Corona mask. I knew there were other musicians leading this one and I saw myself as a clarinet player in a dixieland group, except harmelodic and free. Before we started though, I witnessed what I believe was a sign from God.
Several speakers had spoken with several more to go when the skies just opened up and began the deluge. The wind swept up to hurricane level and on most occasions I think people would have broke out to seek shelter. Not today. As the thunder cracked the horizon, the crowd roared back at it in wave after wave. Soaked but mad strong. Unbreakable and unshakable. Then as the storm and protest speeches continued, here came the sun.
The sun was as bright as I have ever seen, and right during a true violent thunderstorm. The protest only became stronger, and the march was on. I thought to myself that this was it, the moment when the human race decided to fight to become itself. Art and music are a big part of the way we’re fighting for truth and justice.
Meanwhile, Corona continues it’s path of destruction and devastation throughout America the ugly. I’m still shook that after everything else he survived, my buddy Giuseppi was swept up in a Corona wave. I’m trying to stay safe myself. I cannot deny that during this tragedy I have been sidelined only to experience the most creative period of my life. In this way I am truly blessed. As my friend master astrologer Amir Bey pointed out, I can blame Uranus moving on the stellium in my fourth house. I always loved Uranus, the harmelodic planet. Uranus, I love you.
With time on my hands like I have never had, I wrote as much music as I could. I wrote a record for the 12 Houses. 12 pieces about spiritual numerology, sacred geometry, and creation mechanics. I consider this my life’s work. If I could only have one recording in my lifetime, this would be it. I wrote my first string quartet about the four chambers of the heart. I also wrote a piece for 3 clarinets and hand drums about the phases of the moon. I kept writing, and then that’s when Uranus knocked on my door and handed me a paint brush and of course said just one word:
Truth is that around 1990 I had studied Art in college for 2 years and quit to pursue Jazz. I still blame Miles. Miles live version of Funny Valentine was enough for me to give up the next 30 years of my life trying to reach a creation moment like Miles had on that day. I always wondered if I lost my art chops. Back then my only real skill was portraits, but after 3 decades of improvisation I have a new perspective. The truth is that once again, it was Ornette who set me free. At the core of harmelodics is that nothing is written in stone. Something can always be something else. Asking and seeing what else things can be, what they are, is at the heart of my process, no matter the idiom. OC had incredible paintings all over his loft. He showed me the cover to Dancing with your head and asked me what did you see? This epic piece is a clown, or Jesus, depending on which way it’s flipped. Once I started painting again, I realized not only how free I was, but that every piece asked the question what if?
Now I’m looking at the differences between art and music. I don’t have to practice every day just to be able to paint. I don’t have to memorize changes. I don’t have to organize and arrange everything. I don’t have to hope I get a gig somewhere and then be bitter that I didn’t get. All I have to do, is just do it. Now that I’ve found 2 paintings done by Duke Ellington I’m even more into it. Of course Miles is leading the way again- as he was an incredible and original painter!! People say my painting is musical. I hope so. I hope it swings and has heart and dynamics. I’m still playing all my horns, believe it. Paintings are songs and songs are paintings.
Anyway, just checking in over here at the blog.
I believe, I hope that Corona will fade, Trump will end, and the marches will continue until the white world finally says and understands that Black Lives Matter. I believe that the artists of the world can turn the tide.
This is it