As a newer member of the Adam Simmons Creative Music Ensemble, I feel I can offer an outsider's pespective. My musical career, although long, has never before intersected with the world of avant-garde jazz. I met Adam through 3RRR's annual meat-and-music festival, Barbeque Day, which has been held on the first Sunday of summer for the last 15 years or so. We do a 2-hour broadcast with a core band of 8 or 9 musicians and a line-up of guest vocalists live from a park in East Brunswick. We play popular songs with the lyrics rewritten to celebrate the carnivorous appetite. If you imagine Crowded House singing 'Everywhere you go, you always take the Weber with you', you'll get the idea. Adam shows up each year with whichever horn player he can talk into this unpaid gig. They take a brief look at the charts and set up some sort of black magic telepathic arrangement. They are infallibly funktasic. I connected musically with Adam through this and since then have been included in his 100:25:1 project and made a member of the ASCME.
The iPad is my main musical weapon of choice these days. A huge number of synthesiser and drum machine emulations are available cheaply as apps and some exploit the iPad's touchscreen capabilities in musically smart and innovative ways.
Because we've performed The Usefulness of Art before, the group are familiar with the piece. Charts are sent to those who can use them. He sent me one and I found it impenetrable but interesting, like a piece of ancient Sumerian text. With this in mind, Adam's approach seems to be this:
The chances of getting 20 itinerant musicians together in one place to rehearse without the lure of cash are slim. This may lead to 'mistakes' but he has faith in the people he has chosen and their ability to think their way out of musical cul-de-sacs long before the audience knows something's up. We're encouraged to treat a musical mis-step as a chance for a small and hopefully interesting straying from the path. To take such accidents in their stride is a mark of the quality of these musicians. If you've heard poor musicians attempt the same thing, you'll know what I mean.
Adam Simmons and the Arcko Ensemble present Travelling Tales at fortyfivedownstairs from Thursday 7th December. More information and tickets available here.