2008 has started off with a bang, or a klang, or a …, well definitely not a thud or a boink. But you get the idea. Last week was my first rehearsal as a “regular” member of Gamelan Son of Lion since 1987. I did write a piece for them in 2006, but I attended only a few rehearsals. This year I have decided to join the group on a regular basis. Son of Lion is a “home-made” gamelan ensemble built by Barbara Benary back in the late ’70s. The metalophone, keyed, instruments are mostly made of iron, as opposed to the bronze instruments of Indonesia or the aluminum of most California new gamelans. When I was in the group in the ’80s (rehearsing in Phil Corner’s loft on Leonard St.) they also had a large array of car hubcaps used as gongs. But those seem to have been replaced by actual bronze gongs from Indonesia.
The 1980s was sort of my “gamelan decade.” Gamelan was the through line during my moves from Toronto to NYC to San Francisco. There was even a 5 month trip to Bali & Java in 1986 to study the different gamelans there. But over an eight year period I wrote 4 pieces for 3 different American gamelans and played in 5, coast to coast. I was a founding member Toronto’s Evergreen Club Gamelan in 1982, then worked with Son of Lion in NYC in ’86/’87, then to California to play with Bay Area New Gamelan (BANG), The Berkeley Gamelan and one of Lou Harrison’s groups. But new gamelan in CA had sort of run it’s course by the time I got there, and I stopped playing in these ensembles by 1989. The 2 east coast groups I had been in, SoL and Evergreen, continue to this day, and I’m very glad to be back in Son of Lion.
Here is what SoL looks like these days. (Photos taken 8Jan08)
(left to right, Jody Kruskol, David Demnitz, Barbara Benary, Lisa Karrer, Laura Liben)
(left to right: David Simons, Denman Maroney, Patrick Grant, Jody Kruskol, David Demnitz. Not shown: me, John Morton and Dan Goode.)
Then a few days later, David Behrman came up to my apartment to rehearse for the gig we have this week. I’ve been a fan of his work since I was a teenager so it was wonderful to finally play his music. The sound of glass fits in beautifully with his sound world. Here is David in my apartment (10Jan08).
Then Keiko Uenishi (aka o.blaat) came by the next day to help on the mix of the upcoming release of our OBJECTS cd. Back in 2004 Keiko & I & Ricardo Arias (who plays balloons) did a trio concert at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City (across the east river from Manhattan). We managed to get a very good multi-track recording of it and a small label in the midwest want to put it out. It’s one of the favorite bands I’ve been in. Me playing my glass objects, Ricardo playing his balloon objects, and Keiko playing her virtual max-patch objects. Here is a photo of the 2004 concert.