FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Roland H. H. Biswurm


October 29, 1995 is a Sunday, Berlin is grey - and wet. Butch Morris, born in 1947, with a 'sunny' Californian disposition, opens the door and welcomes the soaking wet interviewer in for a tête-à-tête, an interview. Morris, as recipient of the 'Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst' scholarship, is almost inevitably guest of FMP.

During the Total Music Meeting, Butch Morris will direct a rather unruly crowd of individualists in an attempt to form an ensemble.

Yes, he also does play piano, trombone and other instruments, he is a composer and improviser - but when he is directing, everything combines to form an organic whole: "A physical thing, a matter of chemistry, that's all...".

Again, Lawrence "Butch" Morris laughs loud and heartily, as I, soaked through by the Berlin autumn ask such questions.

"I am actually the best brass player in my groups, but when so many come together, I can only maintain an overview, when I am standing in front and listen to the sound from a certain distance...".

This time, Lawrence "Butch" Morris will not blow his horn, which is actually a cornet, not a trumpet. And even for that Morris has good reasons: "It is quite a bit closer to you, you've got more control over the sound, it is simply more organic", Morris says. And: "It may even be a little bit old fashioned, but more and more musicians are using the cornet again, Olu Dara or Bobby Bradford have also started to”.

October 29, 1993 is a Friday, a free day, part of the Total Music Meeting, integrated within a, let's call it "freeflow of consciousness", a free pulsation of the most varied states of consciousness. As a consequence, a trio is a triangle, not necessarily equal-sided, but nevertheless of equal validity.

Lawrence "Butch" Morris plays cornet, a brass instrument not dissimilar to the trumpet. Morris plays subdued sounds, sustaining the sound, Morris plays space - no flaunting, not exuberant and flashy - Morris is no Macho, even when he wrangles metallically - almost like heavy metal.

J.A. Deane, born 1955, plays trombone, a brass instrument, not dissimilar to the trumpet. Deane distorts sounds - electronically where necessary. And it is necessary. Deane sinks into a constantly moving process, which is at the same time theatrical, dramatic: Deane has brought into the realms of sound the outrageous offerings of Christoph Marthaler or Sam Shepard.

Lê Quan Ninh, born 1961, plays percussion with metal sheets, with cymbals, Gongs and everything that makes a sound. Lê Quan Ninh prepares the ground, focuses, punctuates - and plays metal music - heavy metal, indeed.

This is it.
Words like sounds.

The trio plays both within and with the intimacy of a front parlour, but there is nothing hermetic, nothing closed in the sound: everything is open: a remarkable paradox.

Two years later - the rain has stopped. Butch Morris blows one of those significant clouds of smoke into the grey - burning clouds.

It all makes sense.

Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton

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