2011 Retrospectives [part i]: harmo & tambo

Picture In A Frame

(spontaneously arranged by the Harmo & Tambo Project 6.3.11 at Rockwood Music Hall)


…in the late spring of 2010 is where this whole thing begins, actually.  drummer/composer/eccentric/madman Aaron Steele told me that Rockwood Music Hall (one of my favorite venues) had offered him the late-nights slots for him to stage some sort of musical experiments.  he and I had begun our musical relationship in the form of weird and wild jam sessions where everything was made up (including the lyrics) and it seemed like a fun way to get back to those hyper-creative roots.

for us it would be no heavy thing.  we made up songs for Aabaraki by sitting in a room and making musical practical jokes at each other.  but to keep things bizarre, Aaron came up with the premise that’d we’d invite other musicians to play the hour with us.  we’d give no clear or even unclear instructions and just play whatever came out.  and we’d call it it the Harmo (me) and Tambo (him) project.

sounds terrible, right?  turns out — it was awesome.

i can’t remember now how many sessions we actually did, but I do have recordings of at least three or four and so I get to go back and listen to us making up songs about: spaceships, hamburgers, love-lost, vintage cars, and spaceships.

for just about a year, we’d convene under cover of dark ever two months or so and make some noise at a small, lingering audience.  it was never really settled into a regular schedule and so it was all the more up-in-the-air when it did happen.

well, in recent months we’ve both been so busy that its been impossible to really get something together and the Harmo and Tambo project has kind of fallen off.  but it reached a terribly beautiful apex this past summer when we had Malcolm Gold and Andrea Longato join us in early June for what would be the last session to date.

the song presented above & below is something from that session.  it was the very last thing, actually.  and it was something we’d sometimes do during the set.  I would start playing a song that only I knew and everyone else would jump in on it til it was its own animal.  for this late Spring evening, I picked Tom Waits’ Picture In A Frame — a gorgeous but very simple ballad.

what happened after the first few seconds was only partly my doing.  and for whatever reason it gives me great sentimental pleasure to hear it over and over.  i think, if nothing else from these sessions is ever heard, this makes a very lovely and poignant statement about what happens when competent musicians hold a conversation on a fixed (if somewhat unknown) subject.

and its a nice way to ring out and ring in the old and new years.  i hope it affixes to your heart-ears the way it does to mine.  share it around.  and play it loud.

i sometimes think music is so strange a construction that it could just suddenly disappear.  or, indeed, one day we could wake up and simply not understand it anymore. so while we are primitive enough to enjoy imperfect sounds being quickened through the air by imperfect people, i choose to drink deep every time a snatch of music wafts my way.

sometimes you get a mouth full of sand.  other times…


About akiebermiss

pianist, composer, singer, writer. hater.
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