Click here to [close]

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Chris Pitsiokos - Sunday Interview

Photo (c) Cristina Marx/Photomusix
1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

First I want to define what I'm talking about here, to be clear. For me there are several things called "improvised music;" I'll mention two of them. I think what we usually refer to when we use the term improvised music is the genre of improvised music, which has a certain, I would say narrow, set of sonic signifiers and musical patterns associated with it. I have a lot of opinions and feelings about the genre, but let's just say that "joy" is not something that readily comes to mind. Another definition of improvised music is a description of a process that can be used to generate music that can sound like just about anything. For me this involves real-time interaction with fellow musicians, history, and environment as a piece unfolds. This is a flexible and robust process, that, at its best can be generative of new ideas, new relationships, and new music. When it is these things, it brings me joy.

2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you perform with? 

I have been fortunate enough to work with some musicians who really bring something fresh to every performance. This takes skill, as I don't feel it's very interesting or beautiful to force new things to happen. So you have to kind of see what the music asks for in real time, take it seriously, and then bring your own personality, decision-making, musical knowledge, technical facility and emotion into it, and on top of that try not to repeat yourself or others too much. When I find this in a musician, I can't get enough of playing with them.

3. Which historical musician/composer do you admire the most? 

Miles Davis. This man changed music more than five times. He changed it every time he played. It's actually still mind-boggling to me to think what Miles did from the period of 1950-1975. 25 years, from playing with Charlie Parker, to Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, ESP, In a Silent Way, Jack Johnson, Bitches Brew, Live-Evil, On the Corner, Get Up with It, all the live stuff from 70-75. It's miraculous actually.

4. If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be? 

No one actually. This goes against my principles. I don't think the music is pushed forward by wishing you could have played with someone who is dead. We can learn from the past, and get inspiration from the past, but I never dream of going back there. I even try to resist the temptation of playing with members of the older generation too much, no matter how much I might love and respect their music. Of course in my life there are exceptions to this, because some people keep pushing the music forward their whole lives. This is a pretty rare quality though.

5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life? 

I would have to second Satoko's answer from a couple weeks ago. It's pretty fundamental to want to make something that no one has heard before. It's a tall order, but otherwise, what are we doing here?

6. if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

I'll also take a cue from Satoko on this one. I'm pretty happy to be myself.

7. Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like?
Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday

8. Which of your albums are you most proud of? 

I would say One Eye with a Microscope Attached, and also a forthcoming sax/electronics album that will be out at the beginning of 2024 called Irrational Rhythms and Shifting Poles

9. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?  
Very rarely, but I think it's important to listen back every now and then to see how things sound a couple years later, or a decade later. It's interesting to see what holds up in ones own ears in order to learn about how to continue. When you are inside the project, you don't always have the same perspective as you do years later, so this is an interesting process for me.

10. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life? 

Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan, along with all of the outtakes from that album.

11. What are you listening to at the moment? 

Ka Baird's 2019 album Respires. Second time listening in two days.

12. What artist outside music inspires you?

Andrei Tarkovsky is big for me right now. 
Reviews with Chris Pitsiokos: