Steve Kindler's Cadenza on Pastoral from "Visions of the Emerald Beyond"

Anyone who has ever checked out The Mahavishnu Orchestra's fourth studio album, Visions of the Emerald Beyond, knows that it is one of the heaviest jazz-rock violin records ever. By 1975 the original band had already split up (bad vibes) and Jerry Goodman's departure made way for Jean-Luc Ponty's brief occupation of the violin chair. This was the record that, in large part, introduced the world to the sound of Ponty's amplified "baritone" violin, the iconic swirling violin phaser effect, and the debut of JLP's love affair with the Echoplex.

There was another violinist waiting in the wings. His name was Steven Kindler and he was a hot-shot American classical prodigy type who, as a high school-er, became obsessed with the early Mahavishnu recordings. He hadn't studied jazz but had learned to improvise by copying the solos by John McLaughlin and, especially, keyboardist Jan Hammer. It is rumored that he approached John McLaughlin by saying, "Hi, my name is Steven Kindler and I can play all of your music better than your other violinist." So, you get the picture. It must have chapped his ass to sit by and watch Ponty shredding in the violin chair. However, he did get one shot: a cadenza at the end of the String Quartet feature Pastoral.

Steven was clearly prepared for this moment. His cadenza is in a key that is unfamiliar to most violinists, Ab minor, and he starts with something that the composers for the X-Files clearly ripped off before he transitions to the next mode. From there on out you get a well-conceived, if not overly spontaneous, hybrid of a Western classical violin cadenza with obvious Carnatic influences. In it you will find techniques such as flying spiccato, double harmonics, and one-finger melodic flourishes. I would advise the acquisition of this recording before you attempt to play it because the tempo is rubato and you need to hear the drone (or shruti/sruti) played by the string quartet to fully feel the vibe and concept.

Remembering Vonski

Maurice Brown and Von Freeman at The New Apartment Lounge (Photo by John Broughton)

Maurice Brown and Von Freeman at The New Apartment Lounge (Photo by John Broughton)

When I moved to Chicago in the mid 90s my jazz experience consisted of the few jam sessions and gigs I had done with my Dad in my hometown of Lexington, KY. I was eager to play and hungry to learn, however, having enrolled in a classical performance degree program, I wasn't allowed to formally study jazz in college.

After a several years, and a few coffee shop jobs later, I met a jazz guitarist who had recently graduated from Oberlin named Aaron Weistrop. He was the first person to take me down to the legendary session at The New Apartment Lounge at 504 E. 75th St. on Chicago's south side. It was so far beyond anything that I had ever experienced - such a completely different world than what I had known up to then -  that I will never forget it. It was in the winter, or late fall.. or early spring (OK, I forgot that much)... so it was cold. Really, really cold. Anyone that has ever lived in Chicago can tell you that the seasons, except in the most bitter part of the winter or the height of the summer, tend to blend together into one long, dark, grey, windy spell. I remember lugging my Polytone amplifier out of Aaron's car and sprinting to the door of the bar.

What you see in this video is pretty much what it looked like, except that Von was much younger, there was a partially different band, and there were a lot more people. This clip, by French filmmaker Jean Michel Papazian, features "Vonski" (more about his nickname later), Mike Allemana on guitar, Matt Ferguson on bass, and fellow Kentuckian Michael Raynor (the original drummer from my earliest memories) on drums.

Von and the house band would usually play from about ten o' clock until midnight. All the young "horses," as Von would call us, would line up against the wall with our cases and drinks, and receive a jazz schooling that few of us could appreciate at the time.

Von was called "Vonski" because he spoke in his own hip lingo, much like the stories one hears about Lester Young's ultra-cool way of speaking, that usually included the addition of "-ski" to the end of whatever he was saying at the time. Also, he would often refer to himself in third-person as "Vonski," by saying things like,

"Vonski needs to rest himself and let these young horses run for a while."

Often he would engage in hilarious, acerbic banter with the bartender "Weezy" who took absolutely no shit from anyone. I distinctly remember a deep feeling of gratitude whenever she would finally serve me a Heineken that I had ordered twenty minutes ago.

But while all this was going on, Vonski would sit at the edge of the bar and scrutinize the music like a coach shouting from the sidelines. It was a running commentary of cool encouragement mixed with the occasionally needed chastisement and it was completed by a Greek chorus of regulars who affirmed Vonski's assertions.

Here are some clips of Vonski right around the time that I first heard him. You can hear that his musical vocabulary is the entire span of jazz history up until then, from the early swing era through bebop and post-Coltrane. Also notable is that his playing is a seamless amalgam, not a quotable list of stylistic highlights, and for this reason alone it is essentially impossible to copy Von's playing. The band is made up of prominent Chicagoan's: Brad Goode on trumpet, Jodie Christian on piano, Rufus Reid on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

I'll leave you with a nice tribute to Vonski by the National Endowment for the Arts upon his recognition as a 2012 NEA Jazz Master. There are a lot of great clips popping up on YouTube since his passing including a hair-raising tenor battle between him and fellow Chicagoan Clifford Jordan at the 1988 Chicago Jazz Festival. No doubt, you will find more scholarly essays about Vonski on the web and I encourage you to read on.

For me Von Freeman will always represent the epitome of dedication to one's craft along with a fearless championing of self-determination in one's life and career. I recently watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, an inspiring documentary film about an octogenarian sushi master in Tokyo who is acclaimed by many as the greatest of all time. His singular dedication to the perfection of his personal vision seemed, as I watched, totally antithetical to the American concept of life and work. But now, as I reflect upon the life and work of Von Freeman, I must acknowledge that these masters are among us and that I have personally known one of them.

How to become a YouTube Sensation 101

I don't actually believe that I've uncovered the secret to how one becomes a YouTube sensation but, like all performing artists these days, I would do well to figure it out. What do I consider to be a YouTube sensation anyway? For the purposes of this post, I'll define it as a person or band with over 1,000,000 views. My somewhat arbitrary definition has to do with a recent personal obsession: Dirty Loops

Enter the song "Circus." If you aren't familiar with this song already, check out the original Britney Spears version for however long you can stand it - then, check out Dirty Loops' cover...

 

So, how could three music nerds from Europe with no label support or a manager (at the time) ever hope to attract any attention for their jazz/pop/fusion/Rn'B music? That video you just watched (I certainly hope you did - to the end!) has over 1,000,000 views. Next up, something even more inane from Justin Bieber...

 

So who are these guys (yes, the bass player IS a dude)? From the band's website:

Formed in 2009, Dirty Loops is a Swedish power trio that twists pop music in a way never done before. After attending the Royal the Music Academy in Stockholm they formed a band and began recording. Their first video, "Just Dance," released in November 2010, became a huge success and without any promotion, was viewed over 100,000 times and shared on Facebook by over 10,000 people within two months.

As I write, I see that their YouTube channel now has 6,108,722 views and counting. You probably just added two more.

Our final example: the ubiquitous pop anthem "Rolling In The Deep."

I've been subjecting everyone around me to the question at hand. My colleague Martin Urbach suggested that I check out this Ted Talk on "Why Videos Go Viral." by Kevin Allocca. Kevin is currently the Trends Manager at YouTube.

My Cliff Notes are as follows:

How does a video go viral?
1. Tastemakers
* authorities in a community of interest who bring your video to a wider audience and who take a point of view
• they accelerate the viral spread by connecting you to their viewers, readers, fans, etc.

2. Communities of participation
* people that spread your video
* people that imitate your video
* people who are inspired to respond to your video through creativity and participation - remixes, arrangements, etc.

3. Unexpectedness
* the video is surprising
* the video is shocking
* the video is funny

I look forward to continuing this discussion with you on FB or wherever, but for now let's try to distill something from this experience:

#1 Be really, really, really... REALLY good at what you do. This is a time-consuming endeavor but the hard work and sacrifice can lead to great enjoyment for you and others. If that's not what you're into then I can't tell you nuthin'.

#2 Scour YouTube for the most viral, most watched, most shared music videos and see if any appeal to you. Also take note of the ones that offend or disgust you, musically or otherwise (you should pick those). Now get creative. You will probably find that in the compositional areas of melody, harmony, and rhythm that there is very little to work with. That's where you must refer back to point #1 and get to work.

#3 Pick your song, write the arrangement, keep it short, and learn how to play the piss out of it.

#4 Create a YouTube channel where you can begin to build your portfolio of awesomeness.

#5 Record yourself performing. Make sure to also record a video of the performance. That way, when your bass player blows his hair on the final note of an insanely sick run, everybody can talk about that too and share it with their friends. Seriously.

I hope you enjoyed reading and watching today's post as much as I enjoyed writing and researching it.

Until next time,

z

Jazz Bowing 101

Excerpt from Zbigniew Seifert’s solo on Zal by Richie Beirach (©1976 Beirach Music)1

Excerpt from Zbigniew Seifert’s solo on Zal by Richie Beirach (©1976 Beirach Music)1

Bow technique is a mysterious, somewhat subjective, and frequently avoided subject in string pedagogy. Some violin schools seek to inculcate a “system” of bowing while others emphasize core bowing principles to guide the students' choices. Major treatises on bow technique date back hundreds of years and hold great value for the serious student, but none can show you directly how to swing. The fundamental concept of jazz bowing is swinging or grooving on a stringed instrument.

Jazz Bowing 101 addresses bowing patterns rather than techniques, e.g. slurs, direction, and accents as opposed to balance, sound point, and key strokes. If you don’t know about the latter three terms then I would suggest doing some “legit” bow investigation as it will inform and enhance your overall sound and expressive palette. I consider the two books by Simon Fischer, Basics and Practice2, to be invaluable resources for those who want to further explore the universe of bow techniques.

Where does one start when approaching the issue of how to swing with a bow? Jean-Luc Ponty and Zbigniew Seifert, two of the greatest exponents of modern jazz violin and both conservatory-trained virtuosos, openly struggled with jazz bowing because it seemed antithetical to their strict classical training. For Stephane Grappelli, who learned on the streets of Paris, the concept was less intimidating. Grappelli’s excellent, if overly terse, piece of advice was that “The bow must go up and down.”3 To that I would add that the notes must either swing or groove.
How will you know when you are swinging or grooving? Some of the fastest and most direct ways to tackle this issue are:

  • Ask someone who knows how to swing if you are swinging
  • Record yourself when you practice, listen back and critique yourself
  • Play along with recordings and learn to mimic them perfectly
  • Record yourself while playing with drummers and bassists who swing

Time-feel, swing, groove, etc. is mostly an expressive state of awareness (much like intonation) rather than a technique4, and it should occur regardless of what you are doing with your bow. When we discuss jazz bowing we are specifically talking about articulations e.g. combinations of slurred and separate bow strokes, long and short notes, as well as accents. The most basic jazz bowing is slurring on the off-beat. Why? Because changing bow direction always causes some type of accent, and the most common accents in jazz lines occur on the “and” of the beat. This is part of the common-practice “language” of jazz which has evolved considerably over the century. If you haven’t done this already, I suggest doing some comparative listening to recordings from different eras (ragtime, swing, bebop, hard bop, mid-60s to now). Specifically, it would be useful to compare and contrast the “beat” of the music. I find it particularly useful to listen to and transcribe horn players because the accents and slurs they create with their embouchures can, through detailed listening, show you how to bow or accent a phrase. In fact, both Ponty and Seifert became saxophone players in their quest to understand how to bring modern jazz articulations and phrasing to the violin.5

Excerpt from John Coltrane’s solo on I Hear A Rhapsody (©1940 Broadcast Music, Inc.)6

Excerpt from John Coltrane’s solo on I Hear A Rhapsody (©1940 Broadcast Music, Inc.)6

Basic bowing exercises can help to get the ball rolling. However, spending too much time on bowing exercises (or exercises in general unless they are incredibly creative and performance worthy) can be a waste of practice time. Remember that jazz improvisation infers the improvisation of our bowings as well. I suggest never spending more than five or ten minutes on bowing exercises. The purpose of these fundamental exercises is to acquaint your bow arm with the feeling of slurring on the off beat and in odd groupings.

When practicing bowing exercises make sure to always practice the bowings reversed and in different parts of the bow. If you are really improvising then you won’t know what direction you will be starting from or in what part of the bow you will be.

Set a metronome at a comfortable tempo that accents beats 2 and 4. Play Ex.1 starting in the upper 3/4 section of the bow. When you feel relaxed with this bowing continue playing in the upper 3/4 of the bow but reverse direction (Ex. 2). Play the same two exercises at the middle, lower 3/4, tip, and frog of the bow.

Do the same with Ex. 3 and Ex. 4.

Of course, your bowing should never be restricted to only slurring on the “and” of the beat. Experiment with groupings of threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens, etc. Keep the metronome going on 2 and 4.

Try slurring in groups of two from beat 1. Does it sound “square?” Try mixing it up with slurs on the beat and off the beat.

What about slurring the entire example? Try making little accents (soft) with your right hand either by pulsing with your index finger or by slightly pronating your forearm. NEVER ACCENT WITH YOUR SHOULDER!7

Now try doing this with separate bows. Remember to direct your attention as soon as possible to the sound and physical feeling of what you are playing. 99% of the time your body will have a more efficient way of performing a physical task if you LET it show you what it wants to do. Let your brain do the explaining and let your body do the “doing.”

Now forget about all of this and just play.


© 2012 Secret Fort Music. All Rights Reserved. Contact me (click here) if you would like to use these materials for instructional or educational purposes.


Footnotes:

1 Private Recording from Dec. 1976, NYC; published on We’ll Remember Zbiggy, Mood Records, 1979

2 Published by Edition Peters, London, 1997 & 2004

3 Jazz Violin by Stephane Grappelli and Matt Glaser, Oak Publications, 1981, p.34

4 Exercises abound that can improve one’s time-feel or intonation but they involve directing your attention to a sound or feeling rather than a physical position or action.

5 Seifert was considered to be one of Poland’s great modern jazz saxophonists before he became widely known as a violinist and a postage stamp bearing his image depicts him with an alto saxophone.

6 From Lush Life, Prestige Records 7188; recorded on May 31, 1957

7 Never say “never” but I wouldn’t unless you already have a bionic shoulder.

Party of Two @ Beast: Live Jazz In The Back Room

PARTY OF TWO @ BEAST: LIVE JAZZ IN THE BACK ROOM

Jazz violinist Zach Brock will appear in performance with guitarists Jonathan KreisbergBen Monder, and Nate Radley at Beast Restaurant, located at 638 Bergen Street in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood at 8PM on February 16, 23, and March 2 respectively.  There is no cover charge or drink minimum and seating is limited.  Call 718-399-6855 to make a reservation.

About Zach Brock: Zach Brock has been heralded by Blue Note artist and MacArthur Grant recipient Patricia Barber as "the one on whom to place your bets in jazz" and lionized as "the great bright hope for jazz violin" by the Chicago Tribune.  Brock's first band, The Coffee Achievers, progressed from a circuit of Midwest jazz clubs to Carnegie Hall and the Tudo e Jazz Festival in Brazil. They also produced three recordings on Brock's own label, Secret Fort Records.  Brock has performed with an impressive roster of artists including Stanley Clarke, Patricia Barber, and Bob Dorough, as well as Alice Coltrane, George Cables, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Kurt Elling, Dennis Chambers, John McLean, Grazyna Auguscik, The Mahavishnu Project and Eastern Blok.  In 2009 Brock will make his international film debut as part of "Passion," a documentary about forgotten jazz violin pioneer Zbigniew Seifert.

February 16, Jonathan Kreisberg: Jonathan started playing guitar at the age of ten. At 16 he was admitted to the New World School of the Arts in Miami, where his jazz studies took center stage.  Intensely dedicated to the instrument, he was featured in Guitar Player and DownBeat while still in his teens.  He won a scholarship to the University of Miami, where he held the guitar chair in the acclaimed Concert Jazz Band, touring Brazil and performing with Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, and Red Rodney.  In Miami he also performed with the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas. Since returning to New York City in 1997, Jonathan has worked in the bands of many greats including Joe Locke, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Joel Frahm, Greg Tardy, Roy Nathanson, Donald Edwards, Jane Monheit, Ari Hoenig, Yosvany Terry, and Lenny White.  He has also led groups of various instrumentations featuring artists such as Bill Stewart, Larry Grenadier, and Scott Wendholt.  He has recorded five CDs as a leader, including Unearth (2005), his first release on Mel Bay Records.

February 23, Ben Monder: A musician in the New York area for 25 years, Ben Monder has performed with a variety of artists, including Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, Lee Konitz, George Garzone, Tim Berne, and Kenny Wheeler. He is a regular member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra and the Paul Motian Octet, as well as many other projects. He has conducted clinics and workshops around the world, and served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory from 2002-2005. Ben continues to perform original music internationally with his own quartet, trio, and in a duo project with vocalist Theo Bleckmann. He has appeared on over 100 CDs as a sideman, and has released 4 as a leader: Oceana (Sunnyside, 2005), Excavation (Arabesque, 2000), Dust (Arabesque, 1997), and Flux (Songlines,1995).

March 2, Nate Radley: Nate Radley was born in Concord, NH and studied music at New England Conservatory, in Boston, MA.  He has recorded and performed with a variety of jazz artists including Rick Margitza, Mark Turner, Donny McCaslin, Greg Osby, Chris Potter, John Hollenbeck, Billy Hart, Seamus Blake, Cuong Vu, Matt Wilson, Antonio Sanchez and George Garzone. Nate has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, at jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and can be heard on recordings for the Steeplechase and Fresh Sound/New Talent record labels. In 2005, Nate was named one of the winners of the ASCAP young jazz composers competition. He currently leads his own trio, and performs with a variety of bands based in New York.

About Beast Restaurant: Beast opened its curved, medieval-looking doors in February of 2005, offering a non-traditional, American spin on Mediterranean tapas, served up in a unique atmosphere. Since its opening in 2005, Beast has won acclaim, particularly for its unique menu, including a Top Pick in The New York Times, inclusion in the Top 5 Brunch Spots in New York City from New York Magazine, and was nominated in the Reader's Choice Awards for Best New Brooklyn Restaurant in Time Out New York.  Go to www.brooklynbeast.com for more information.

The Real Jazz Age Is Now

We're all bracing for the worst in 2009 as the world's economies slide into uncertainty, and violence seems to be the only renewable resource that is being developed. As you read this, I hope you haven't lost your job or your retirement funds or a loved one. It's happening all around us, yet we're still being bombarded with messages that don't seem to reflect the real conditions on the ground. The most significant and historic presidential election since George Washington happened only five weeks ago. Yet, we've been freshly demoralized by more Wall Street felonies, allegations of corrupt governorships selling Senate seats, auto industry executives crying "no fair," and another horrific international terrorist incident. As an antidote to our current situation, here is a reason to be elated, inspired, relieved and thankful during this holiday season: Jazz music is saving the world.

Since Jazz music has become so marginalized in today's media and culture, I'm not surprised to have noticed a glaring lack of commentary referring to its undeniable and significant contributions to this historic moment. Of course, the contributions to which I refer include championing social equality and tearing up the roots of racism, but the method of this social revolution is what I'm more preoccupied with. Jazz music's thesis would indicate that this election is not so much a momentary triumph of justice over injustice as it is the long-awaited arrival at an inevitable destination.

Several years ago I participated in a concert and lecture series called "The Jazz Age In Paris." I must confess that until I was under deadline to submit a written proposal I hadn't done much scholarly research on this era. The Wikipedia entry, while lacking in many respects, can provide the gist of what some scholars say concerning this topic. By definition, it was the first time in history that the rest of the world, in a mainstream sense, was introduced to American Jazz.

People were in a state of shock after WWI. The aftermath of a new, 20th century-style mechanization of mass slaughter (i.e., land mines, chemical warfare, tanks, and air assaults) following a seemingly isolated terrorist incident had shaken many people's belief in humanity and had laid waste to the romantic aesthetics of the last century: enter Schoenberg, Ives, Ernst, Picasso, Stein, Joyce, etc. While the old-world racism, sexism, and homophobia of European and American culture were very much in full effect, there was also a palpable sense that "what once was, is no longer." Seem familiar?

It is easy to cast aspersions on the world's fascination with the "exoticism (code word)" of American Jazz, but regardless of unrighteous motivations, Jazz also became the dominant "pop culture" theme around the world. People were responding to a new social openness that wasn't welcomed at the opera, museum, university, or church. People were also responding to a new musical style that combined the well-known with the unknown; both rebellious and nostalgic.

Since then, Jazz has been in everyone's lives, woven into the fabric of American (and international) culture, actively and indiscriminately assimilating every other form of music that it encounters. It has provided a universal context for its practitioners and enthusiasts to work together, relate to one another, and to express things with one another that go beyond one's individual background. Jazz is an antidote to beliefs that assert an intrinsic superiority as their claim to power, and it is a paragon of cultural inclusion.

I am in no way implying that people practicing and admiring Jazz were somehow sheltered from the ills of society or that, within the jazz community itself, people have existed in an egalitarian, multi-cultural utopia. It's too easy to conjure the images of Miles Davis holding a handkerchief to his bloodied head after being assaulted by a cop outside one of his own gigs, or to recall the domestic terrorism that set the precedent for John Coltrane's "Alabama," or, years earlier, the sickening reality conveyed by the lyrics of Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit."

What I am saying is that the "Jazz method" of reconstituting other forms of music to suit its own ideals has been mirrored by our society. Jazz music, in fact, is the artistic embodiment of our society. The election of Barack Obama confirms a human trend towards improving and evolving beyond the limits of the past and is a much-needed reminder that we may aspire to our ideals. I hope, in the face of everything to come in 2009, that we can remember the inspired things of which we are capable. The Jazz Age may have dawned in 1918, but it just broke the horizon in 2008, and there is much music to be made.

Discovering Zbigniew Seifert, pt. 1

A few weeks ago, as I was searching my computer for Zbiggy-related documents, I happened across a three-year-old essay that I had written for academic purposes. Much of the essay shows how little I really knew about Zbiggy and his music at the time. I think, however, that it accurately represents the events leading up to and immediately following my personal discovery of his music. I am sharing parts of this essay with the intention of starting a conversation about Zbiggy that I hope will develop throughout the year and continue far beyond. I hope that you enjoy learning about the music of Zbigniew Seifert as much as I have.Polish jazz violinist and composer Zbigniew Seifert (June 1946 – February 1979) was, after Jean-Luc Ponty (September 1942-), the most radically groundbreaking violinist in the history of modern jazz. Since the late nineteen sixties, many improvising violinists have become conversant in the language of bebop, funk, jazz-rock, blues-rock, and the avant-garde. However, the post-Coltrane language, harmony, and nuance that Seifert explored remains largely uncharted territory on the violin. While re-mastered recordings of all the major (and some minor) jazz violinists abound, Zbigniew Seifert retains the unenviable distinction of being the most obscured violinist of his importance.

Seifert, who during his brief career recorded five times as a leader (two times for Capitol Records) and well over thirty sessions as a sideman, is completely out-of-print. Celebrated as an important jazz pioneer in Poland and the rest of Europe, Seifert is virtually unknown to jazz fans and musicians in the United States. Why nothing until now has been done to remedy this fact remains somewhat of a mystery. It is a more complicated situation than one might initially posit and it is one that requires diligent work and cooperation if we are to accomplish the re-mastering of his seminal works before it is too late. The magnetic tape recordings made in the early and mid-seventies are already showing rapid signs of deterioration and we may lose the ability to restore Seifert's work to the level it deserves if more time is lost.

I became aware of Zbigniew Seifert through a Verve sampler CD called "Jazz Club Violin." Seifert's inclusion, a track called "Stillness", featured him in duet with bassist Cecil McBee. Although I immediately recognized Seifert as a strong individual voice, I was in a developmental phase (i.e. young and stupid) where I only paid attention to violinists who were playing bebop lines. When I wasn't listening to horn players, pianists, guitar players, or any other instrument other than the violin, I followed the recordings of the young Jean-Luc Ponty and, later, Didier Lockwood. The second time I heard the name Zbigniew Seifert was from the pianist Dave Kikoski. Kikoski was playing in Chicago with Roy Haynes and the band had gone to saxophonist Von Freeman's famous jam session after the show. I approached Kikoski to ask him about a Didier Lockwood recording he had played on called "New York Rendezvous." We began talking about other violinists who were playing in a more modern style and he quickly steered the conversation to "Zbiggy." He informed me that other New York-based jazz musicians such as Richie Beirach and David Liebman had told him about playing with Seifert in the 1970's and he insisted that I find more recordings. The conversation made such an impression on me that I began looking for Seifert records the next day. However, after looking in every record store in Chicago and scouring the Internet for hours, I gave up.

About a month later, while playing a CD release show at a local jazz record store, I stumbled across Seifert's posthumous recording "Passion" in the used record bin. The lineup of Richie Beirach, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette, Nana Vascocelos and John Scofield was sufficient to peak my interest once again. Written on the back of the record was the first bit of biographical information that I had found outside of the conversation with Kikoski: Polish-born Zbigniew Seifert died in Buffalo, NY in 1979 at the age 32 while undergoing experimental surgery for cancer. Fortunately, the overcast introduction was obliterated by the music that leapt off of the record and out of my stereo speakers. What I heard in that moment did as much as anything I had ever previously heard to alter my view of music, life, and all its possibilities. Seifert's voice was unusually powerful, emotive, and compelling. The musical phrases and lines that he played were seemingly devoid of the usual "violin licks" that prevailed in so many other jazz violinists' vocabulary. At the same time, and most importantly, his playing was much more than impressive or inspiring to me; it was deeply moving.

Since making that first discovery I have acquired all of the albums that he recorded as a leader. Everything that this amazing musician ever did, with the exception of an album called "Violin" by the band Oregon, remains completely out-of-print in this country. I found the remainder of his discography through a German record collector and generous donations from other Zbiggy-philes. What I have since discovered in these other recordings begins to form the picture of a creative statement that rivals or exceeds all that has occurred in jazz violin since the early 1970s. With hard work and luck, we should be able to re-light the torch that Zbigniew carried and to find others that are willing to carry it into the future. It is certainly a worthwhile endeavor and it is also certainly one that will give back far more in return.