Except for a performance at the Fretless Guitar Festival in New York in 2008, I haven't done a lot of solo concert work since about 2002. I did quite a bit of it in the late 90s - 2002 and am interested in revitalizing that aspect of my work.

I'm still inspired to do a solo piece now and then, and often just set up the cam and go. The solo pieces are well received on You Tube, so I thought I'd share them here:

Inshallah (God Willing)

A guitar solo fusion instrumental offered in support and solidarity to those who have sacrificed time and blood in the Middle East (Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya ) and across the globe seeking more democratic governments.

Came up with a rather reflective ambient textural pattern a couple of weeks ago, then was inspired to lay something on top. A little long, perhaps, but as an overall arc, it builds nicely I think.

I often say, "Carry Joy - Build Hope - Offer Love" : I think this piece is about the last two.  God willing, may real compassion, empathy and civility prevail on this planet. This is offered up simply for that. Also see the related piece, "Rising."

This guitar was built by Rick Canton, who now is building for Allan Holdsworth. It originally had its genesis has a fretless version, seen in the NYC video, but it's happier being fretted.

 

 

 

Slow Oud Piece (Thread Of Her Heart, solo version)

A piece Jefferson and I were developing for the Duo with the oud, with a solo test version here. A slow, wistful melody,later titled "Thread of Her Heart."

 

 

For Tagore (NYC Version)

The second of two pieces from a solo performance at the NYC fretless guitar festival, 9/22/2008. This one is inspired by and dedicated to the spirit of Rabindranath Tagore. An extended version was taped at Rick Canton's Santa Fe home.

 

 

Anondoloke

Continuing in the Tagore vein, whose work is very inspiring for me, is this version of a Tagore song on a scalloped guitar. It's been very popular on Youtube since its posting.

 

 

Improvisation for Iran

A solo oud improvisation recorded in Jan 2010, dedicated to the struggle for truth and freedom in Iran. Split over two clips.

 



The River Burns, Embraced By Night

The main piece from the NYC fretless fest performance, and probably closest in approach to how I set up the structures for the extended solo pieces of the 90s.

Among the other projects I've been involved with is as a sideman for J.A. Deane's Out Of Context, MJane, Nacha Mendez, and others.

A closer collaboration happened  some time back with drummer Ramon Lopez. A percussionist/drummer from Spain but based in Paris, Ramon contacted me out of the blue via the internet. As it turns out, here was someone else - in fact the only one else I know to my knowledge - who was also equally well-grounded and passionate for both the flamenco and free traditions. We exchanged CDs and vowed to somehow get together for a recording project.

In November 2002, I had an offer for a guitar concert in Erlbach Germany and supplemented the trip with a few gigs in Holland. In between, there was just enough time - two days - to meet with Ramon and do the project.

It was intense. We had never met before, much less played together, but being familiar with each others recorded work gave us a sense of what was possible - and neither of us were disappointed.

It is flamenco like its never been heard before - freed from strict compas but with a rhythmic vitality and groove that is as hard and earthy as anything you'd care to find.

Sadly, we haven't been able to get the CD released, but we're still hoping to do so.

As coincidence would have it, when I went to Paris again in 2009, I tired to get in contact with Ramon, but couldn't raise him. I had, however, met via the internet an interesting woodwind player named Etienne Brunet, so we got together for a session. I happened to mention Ramon, and he knew him well and also had an updated number for him, so I got to chat with him again.

Etienne and I let the tape roll during our session, and the results are pretty good -- so that's two French based partnerships I'd like to pursue and get these sessions released!


I also have been doing pairings with poetess Yasmeen Najmi, an extraordinary talent. We've done a couple of things together, and it's always magical. We plan to do a full fledged evening at some point. Here's a sample:


Other ideas in the pipeline include an electric quartet (with bass, drums, trumpet) that will undertake a radical reworking of some classical and classic rock repertoire, as well as some original material.

The band will draw primarily from Led Zeppelin material and Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring" as a springboard for further exploration. Led Zeppelin's live work brought the band close to some of the better free jazz output. This project aims to explore that connection and take that trajectory further and at the same time make the material relevant and fresh for our time, rather than a tribute or revisitation. Similarly, the motivic composition in the "Rite of Spring" lends itself particularly well to a collective improvisatory springboard.

I've also been thinking of an ultra intense Sufi metal jazz project, if the right vocalist surfaces; more solo work; and whatever else lies on the path ahead.

We've added a bass player to the Duo, with the remarkable find of upright bass player Christine Nelson.

As the Duo material has evolved to include material that's more arranged, accessible -- even song-like -- it seemed like a natural path to explore.


We had a lot of misgivings -- how would a third member fit with this very telepathic and somewhat idiosyncratic way we work with music that we've developed over time?

but good Lord, did we find the right person - and an upright player to boot, which fits perfectly. She brings great heart, great ears and musical instinct, she's picking it up quick, and fits amazingly well into what we do.

We're thinking our past eight years has just been the run-up and prep work for this moment. It's that good.


Musically, it's building on the flavor of the newer Gretsch material and adding a soul/funk/afro pop undercurrent to it (she's done her time with reggae and roots bands).

How is it changing how we play? For my role, it's liberating on all fronts, and a very interesting process. I can both play less and play more simultaneously , if that makes sense.

While these arent polished takes, here's some rehearsal clips:

http://soundcloud.com/norumba/soulfunkjamtrio

http://soundcloud.com/norumba/lktrioversion

http://soundcloud.com/norumba/hauntingtrioversion

And of course, with a new format, comes a new name: Pray For Brain.

Think on that idea for a bit. Not only is it a very appropiate zeitgeist for this day and age, the relationship between prayer and thought is well documented:

NPR: Prayer May Reshape Your Brain ... And Your Reality

Salon.com : Divining The Brain

A by-product has been a resurgence of interest from various quarters in what we do, not only via our own contacts as news of this spread, but also from her own network. Already a new spate of gigs is being ironed out -- will be posting dates shortly.