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Crushed Cookies Make Crumbs Liberates Swing. Cuts Its Pulse i9?s For many years The Globe and Mail had a column called "The Mermaid Inn." Printed on the editorial page, it had a different guest columnist each week. Snow'scontribution was published on 1 April 1978. In the late Fifties and early Sixties I worked on piano with a fine Dixieland band led by trumpeter Mike White. Usually the bassist was Terry Forster and the drummer Larry Dubin. Also, I often led my own trios or quartets and I used Terry and Larry if I could. We played bebop or modern jazz including many compositions by Thelonious Monk. We made small but significant attempts to enlarge the scope of our improvisation - sometimes by playing blues using whole tone scales, making it possible to ignore bar divisions and invent new structures. I felt that the amount of improvisation should be increased but I didn't yet know how to do it. From 1962 to 1971,1 lived in New York. Despite the greatness of much of the new jazz I heard there I sometimes felt that these musicians weren't necessarily developing what seemed to be the most amazing implications of their music. They often composed tunes that would, by and large, be played first, followed by solos and repeated to close. This of course is the format of most jazz performances (including many great ones) but by now it seemed to me a formal cliche involving a mental state quite opposed to that necessary to generate the solos. These musicians had been able to transcend pre-arranged chord changes, "song form" in general, but they only occasionally trusted in collective improvisation in which the thematic material is generated then and there by the player-composers. To me, their music implied the possibility of an ensemble organically developing its own music by playing it. On frequent visits to Toronto during that period I sometimes played with a group that had become known as the Artists' Jazz Band. Composed partly of well-known visual artists such as painter-drummer Gordon Rayner and painter-trombonist Graham Coughtry, this group had been playing together since about 1961. By the mid-Sixties it included Terry Forster who had the good sense to realize that, though "amateur," the group was playing the most exciting and daring jazz-based music in Toronto. They played totally freely and with a raw sense of humor. Back in Toronto in 1971 I soon started to play fairly regularly with them and in the next few years I realized that while no one individual was as good as certain of the 188 I Crushed Cookies Make Crumbs liberates swing 189 New York musicians I had heard, as an ensemble they were every bit as good, as personal and as surprising. I soon re-met Larry Dubin who, like Forster, had been working as a professional musician. He also was developing a personal technique that would be frowned on if he used it on his jobs. At home, he played with records (any kind of music), the radio, television. He played with traffic sounds, with rain storms - he even played with smoke rising in the sky! For the last several years we have both been realizing a dream that began almost 20 years ago and has culminated in the most creative group I have ever played with - theCCMC (Crushed Cookies Make Crumbs). I have had the honor of playing with many great musicians such as Cootie Williams, Jimmy Rushing, Pee Wee Russell, Buck Clayton, Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, but nothing compares with the inventiverange of this band. During two years of playing every Tuesday and Friday night at The Music Gallery, each night has been surprising. The band spontaneously composes incredibly varied new music. Larry Dubin produces the most subtle range of qualities of any drummer I have heard: sprays, splashes, bursts, rustlings, flutterings, roars. His playing is orchestral and is not just the "bottom" of the music. Instrumental roles in the CCMC are extremely varied and are not stratified as in almost all jazz or rock. Dubin is a subtle and great musician; had he emerged in New York he would probably be influential. Fortunately for Toronto, he's here and his music, like that of the Artists' Jazz Band, is really Toronto music. It can be said that "swing" is generated by the relationships between the shifting accents of "foreground" instruments and the relatively steady beat of the "background" rhythm...


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MARC Record
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