He's The DJ, I'm The Free Jazz Saxophonist
The self-titled, vinyl-only collaboration between avant-garde saxophonist George Cartwright and turntablist Andrew Broder (on Roaratorio Records) is a noisenik's lullaby. Spasms of alto sax meet the outer edge of the record, accompanied by the jingle of a music box and the rattle of metal shards dropping to the floor. Recorded this past February at Minneapolis's Acadia Cabaret, the performance is a cross-generational Twin Cities' most creative improvisers. Cartwright, with Curlew and in collaborations with Ornette Coleman and Bill Laswell, helped shape the influential downtown New York jazz scene of the late '70s. He settled in the Twin Cities five years ago. Broder's hip-hop-rock hybrid Fog has brought Midwestern paranoia to an international audience. Cartwright and Broder recently added percussionist JT Bates and saxophonist Michael Lewis to form the Wonderful Music Company. We caught up with the two experimentalists at the Acadia Café.
CP: When did your collaboration begin?
Broder: Fog and [Cartwright's] GloryLand PonyCat played together for the Ether Teeth release party in May of 2003. That was the first time we met. We talked about playing together for a while. Our first show together--without having practiced or previously gotten together to play music--was here [at Acadia] in January of 2004. This recording is of our second performance.
CP: Were you familiar with one another's work?
Cartwright: Just at that gig, and they just blew me away, just knocked me out. I didn't know what to expect. I thought it was just fantastic, such an organic thing, and the energy that flowed through the whole set just fascinated me.
Broder: I had seen him play at the Clown Lounge. We both had a similar experience of being introduced to one another's music in a live context. I feel the same way about watching GloryLand PonyCat. How the three of them work together is really amazing. When I see them play, I want to go home and get better at what I do. I don't see a lot of groups that give me that feeling.
CP: You've played regularly at Acadia. It's one of the few experimental music venues in town.
Broder: It's great, in terms of showcasing stuff that's really outsider. And it's also an environment where you can actually hear what people are doing.
Cartwright: You have the option to play very quietly, which is a very rare possibility these days. To play quietly is kind of unheard-of. To make these teeny, wonderful, very valuable sounds--as part of all the sounds you can possibly make. A lot of the time you don't have that 20 percent of the db spectrum.
CP: Andrew, do you play the saxophone? George, do you experiment with turntables?
Broder: God, no! I would be awful, I think [laughs].
Cartwright: I have my people in the street watching if Andrew ever goes out to buy a saxophone. They'll call and let me know.
Broder: I tried to teach myself to play the clarinet, and it just didn't go very well. I don't know why it is, but for some reason I'm not very good with reeds or valves. I don't have the lungs for it, or something.
Cartwright: One of the things I've gotten from listening to Andrew and playing with him--one of these things that I like to extrapolate from everyone I like--is this weird motion of stuff that jumps up at you, fast or easy, when you're not expecting it. The way he manipulates the turntable [improvises turntable noises]. It's soulful. I couldn't possibly explain it.
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