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SMELLS LIKE FREE JAZZ
Chris Kelsey-soprano saxophone
François Grillot-bass


Recorded at ABC No Rio, NYC, 3/15/2009


This music was performed as part of a benefit organized by saxophonist Blaise Siwula. For at least a decade, Blaise has run C.O.M.A. (Citizens Ontological Music Agenda), a weekly series of improvised music, at ABC No Rio. Once a year, he sets aside an evening to present a marathon concert featuring a horde of improvisers. The proceeds benefit ABC, which against all odds continues to exist as an important grass roots arts center on New York's Lower East Side.

Blaise's latest benefit was held on Sunday, March 15, 2009. As usual, he booked scores of musicians, running them on- and off-stage one act after another with his usual unflappable geniality (he also played a wonderful set himself, in the company of a very fine tabla player whose name unfortunately escapes me).

François and I have a long-running musical relationship. He's played in my bands for the last five or six years, and lately we've been playing together as a duo. He booked this performance and asked me to join him, which I was very happy to do.

Since there were so many musicians playing this night, each set was very condensed. As it happens, ours was more condensed than it needed to be, but the music flowed naturally, and ultimately ended exactly when and where it was supposed to. I was quite pleased with the form and structure of our totally improvised performance. Later, upon listening to the recording, it struck me as a microcosm of a larger, full-length set-a tiny, ten-minute crystallization. Recorded on a small portable digital recorder, the sound quality is not ideal, but it's plenty good enough. And anyway, it's in the spirit of a dirt-under-yer-fingernails aesthetic that I especially prize when it comes to jazz.

When Steven Koenig hipped me to this site and asked me if I had anything I'd like to contribute, I immediately thought of this recording. Francois and I made it thinking we'd be the only ones to ever hear it. A lack of specific import attached to its creation undoubtedly contributed to the relaxed but intense, anything-goes air that suffuses the music. In that spirit, we didn't edit anything out. The recording presents the performance in its entirety, from the moment we took the stage to its end, with Blaise preparing to announce the next group. It was a wonderful ten minutes for us and we're happy to have the chance to share it here.

Chris Kelsey, 3/25/2009

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