Fragments: An Autobiography
Page 5 -- Click on any thumbnail to see a larger photo.
In New Brunswick I resumed my work as a dance class accompanist. Suddenly Dance became so interesting that I began taking classes, choreographing dances, and, of course, making music for dance pieces. In 1970 I was able to apply for and accept a position on the faculty of Temple Universitys Dance Department teaching Music to dancers and a Dance class to Music majors, with other duties. I was extremely excited about being back in Philadelphia after six arduous intervening years and I was determined to make my way quickly into the citys jazz scene.
On the dance faculty with me was German-born dancer Hellmut Gottschild (thumbnails, left and right) who had been Mary Wigmans assistant in Berlin. We became devoted friends and close collaborators. Hellmut had come to Temple from Germany with members of Group Motion, a dance company he had formed in Berlin. During my first year at Temple, he left Group Motion to form a new company. I was involved in the formation and development of that company, Zero Moving Dance Company which had an influential and distinguished life span in Philadelphia. We co-taught a Movement-Compositiom class in 1971 and until 1986 I played for many of Helmuts classes.
I was, as I anticipated, active and very happy in the Philadelphia Jazz scene. I met Pat Martino (thumbnail, left) in 1971, began working with him, and recorded with him and with Eric Kloss in 1972. My seven-year Jazz apprenticeship was over. At Pats suggestion I studied with Dennis Sandole whom Pat correctly believed could help me end my Classical-Jazz conflict.
Between 1973 and 1984, my good friend and duo-partner guitarist Bobby Rose and I performed and recorded a series of unusual improvised musical projects. Click here to listen to one of the tracks from this series, "Synth Piece." This website will have an essay about my work with Bobby sometime in the near future.
In 1973 I met saxophonist Marshall Taylor (thumbnail, right) and for the next six years he was my closest musical collaborator. The works I wrote for him began with a solo saxophone piece called Tears of Fire in 1973 and ended with Three Sacred Songs for Singer, Saxophone, and Harp in 1979. This period was filled with the fruits of resolution, and it was Marshalls ideas and his influence that brought this about. My studies in 1972 with Dennis Sandole prepared the way by freeing me from the entrapment of my Avant-Garde mindset. Dennis convinced me that I would never be free so long as I expected my work be somehow an evolved expansion of Stockhausens aesthetic/compositional musical personality. Marshall provided opportunities for me to write for him and to hear performances of my pieces. I learned a lot from this. He also gave me good advanced training in how to write well for a performer. And perhaps most important of all, he applauded and encouraged my decision to abandon the historicism (the fetish of chronology) to which I had been in bondage.
In 1978 I had the idea to try some piano improvisations in the style of my recent compositions. (Thumbnail is of a drawing of Ron during this time.) There had always been a hint of this possibility in my Dance Class playing and so I tapped into that as well. The result was Wings of the Morning, and then 17 Solo Piano Improvisations in 1991.
In 1979 I moved out of Philadelphia to Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Throughout the1980s my reading and studying intensified, and my interest in literature came to rival my musical obsessions. I had lots of time for my reading while riding the train to Philadelphia in order to stay working at Temple Dance department. I left Temple in 1986. It had become impossible to earn enough there to support increasing train fares. My connection to Dance was over and, although I didnt know it yet, so was the possibility of Jazz as a career. The 1990s were productive for me. I am making progress . . . Two extremely gifted and productive younger colleagues have incited a continuous renaissance for me both in my compositions and in my ever-present and much-beloved independent scholarship and I owe a great deal to them for this renaissance, David B. Thomas (no relation) and Matt Monticchio.