|| William Hooker Ensemble
The Firmament Fury
Cat. No.: SHCD123
William Hooker drums
Claude Lawrence alto saxophone
Charles Compo tenor & soprano saxophone
Masahiko Kono trombone
Donald Miller electric guitar
1. For the Spirit of Earth / Cosmic (William Hooker) 10:13
2. Prayala (William Hooker) 13:58
3. Lustre (William Hooker) 13:16
4. The Coming One / Evolve, Part One (William Hooker) 8:19
5. Radiance (William Hooker) 11:05
6. Evolve, Part Two (William Hooker) 2:42
Total time: 59:49
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"Hooker's music is good, unabash ed free-jazz improvising. He and Lawrence
make an effective duet: Hooker's rolling bed of drumming avoids direct comment
on Lawrence's strong, Lyons-inflected alto. Of the trio and quartet tracks on
the album, Pralaya and Radiance are probably the strongest. The
horn players get their solo moments and do well with them, but the music is framed
to emphasize the group, and that's where a listener's ears are drawn. There's
good group improvising to be heard here."
Dale Smoak, Cadence, February 1993
"At first I was afraid; this familiar music had demanded action, the kind
of which I was incapable, and yet had I lingered there beneath the surface I might
have attempted to act. Nevertheless, I know now that few really listen to this
The Invisible Man
It's my firm belief that the task of the musician in playing improvised music
is to anchor a higher level of existence on the material plane. This doesn't mean
to say that this happens, or that this view is shared by other composers, players
and colleagues. There are, of course, more superficial views which address themselves
to money, fame, prestige, women/men, and power. These views should not be dismissed,
for these people also play music, write compositions, do interviews, make records,
and (indeed) cause the direction of improvised music to go a certain way. But
my alternative view still stands. I feel that when one is making music, it is
the task of the musician to create what flows on a higher level of life-thought
and idea. I believe this abstraction is acknowledged by most musicians who see
each other, and ultimately respect each other, just because we are musicians.
This is probably an unwritten code of thought in the creative field. It is one
which seems to be realized wherever I go, amongst friends and enemies alike. We
are neither promoters nor entrepreneurs first, we are artists with that unique
talent to improvise and create music on the spot. This unites us. The other territorial
boundaries separate us. But the first goal is in the bringing down from some higher
place, an energy, a music, which exists on a realm outside of the ordinary everyday
drudgery of life, and it is the realization of this that produces the crises.
In coming down the music is used, abused, transferred and transformed, not always
toward higher levels. And this music is (mostly) not heard by the human beings
meant to receive its message.
The fact of 'identification' with the music one makes is also a situation that
can produce a desperate individual, with a life and creative juices that are even
more desperate. I speak of the need to affirm self-identity for the artist.
What is real (surely) is not only in the music's imaginative vista, but
one begins to question the aspects of life and death which every individual questions,
after a while.
This is the scenario: the musician is creating and no one is listening, no one
is affirming higher art, no one is crediting the individual with products of higher
life (or beauty) yielding bad vibes all around.
At this point the artist asks, "Now am I just going to let these people destroy
me and my own self-worth? Am I going to let them use me as their pawn in the scheme
of technological know-how and materialism to place credence in their perverted
vision of what art is, what my improvised music is, and what the direction of
my improvised music is?"
This is an affront to my ability to say what my work is and my ability to be truthful
in explaining it; thus making it impossible for me to teach it to others. At this
point we stop asking what is correct for them, for I have (mistakenly) placed
all of my self-worth in being an artist. For these people to tell me that my work
is valid (or invalid) is to have the outside world confront my existence, my playing,
and my outlook on life on this earth. I am and should be, the judge of this situation;
yet it is important for me to have the final word on how I do my work, my improvisation,
my life. Perhaps if the world weren't so specialized I would not have to deal
with this. Perhaps, if money weren't the only yardstick for measuring the worth
of things I wouldn't have to acknowledge this ignorance.
Nonetheless, we decide that we (the artists) make the music. We have played varied
styles in many cities/countries, and when we play with others we know that
it is ourselves calling for the instantaneous response to our musical framework.
Therefore, within (the 'order' comes from ourselves and whatever the societal
context) we know whether our music is true or not. We know how we felt on the
day and night of the gig. We know what club owner messed with us, and who we had
to be hassled by about the tapes, the pay, the working conditions, etc. Finally,
in response to the higher order of things, we know we will die when it's time
for us to die, and this no one else can do. It is the musician himself who can
legitimize himself; but this is a given, for when he plays he says I AM.
This is the ultimate legitimation. Our notes are our being. I am my music. I initiated
the action, and the people involved.
Who can question me? I say to the arrogant mind-set I am confronting, "Do
you think you have the right?"
"All growth is committed to a foundation; time is growth We are extensions
of what always was and so the TREE grows."
It grows in its own fashion and in its own environment, and those that care will
elaborate on it. This keeps the 'heart' of the matter in the correct place. The
music is not merely a process of mix and match, of technological wizardry. There
is a spiritual bond (if you will). The acknowledgement that another, be it the
musician, the mentor or the teacher; is concerned, and would contribute.
This encourages the individual to go to the next step of trying to get money from
the business interests who must be persuaded to fund and support our work, so
they can perhaps assuage their need to be respected as 'civil citizens' who have
culture in mind. This may (or may not) be correct. But when we see the motivation
of the true artist, we know that our journey is beyond the color of the participants;
the race of the average audience; the environment of the presentation. We only
know that we are to play and deliver in a strong and spontaneous fashion. Again,
this challenge should be differentiated from the supporters. What is this? Talk,
conferences, seminars, vocal meanderings... Sure we need the money, but this does
not make our committment. We try to measure up to what our observers cite.
This can be positive. Yet there is a paradox. My value triples in Asia. The dollar
is on a different scale in Europe. And the white Anglo-Saxon ethic can make me
be reproduced on a level that is so cold that everyone will be listening on this
scale. This is part of my struggle. My music is Afro-American classical music
and I reproduce it myself. No one should tell me how 'hot' I should be, or who
I should play with; and I must push to eliminate these problems.
I have realized that the offering I'm making is to a higher place. This doesn't
make me an idealist, or impractical, because the vision is always tempered by
the world's lack of creativity and fire, and interest in improvisation. This is
to be expected, it is the way of the world. But when we take on the rules and
values and speculative schemes of others to make our own creative efforts legitimate,
we, as artists, are doomed. The music ceases to flow, and hence there is nothing
in this environment in any way creative, or giving, to the spontaneous impulse
or the music. I try to keep this thought in mind, but not for too long because
thought, in itself is also a trap, where the naturalness stops and yields to the
master plan of the mind, not the sentences of the music.
4. Crisis "Once said"
Another crisis is arrived at, for the cycle repeats itself. After creating and
going through the stages we have already mentioned, you will find yourself in
another cloud. The SUN stops shining, and the western sense of culture stops the
mood of the soul's impulse. A cold, closed environ. I will remember the past;
I will live to try to stay fresh. My committment to improvised music is in my
practice of the art. My necessity to protect its legitimation can only go so far,
for the mind only goes so far. It's up to others to realize the process and to
listen, openly. I only hope you, the reader, will realize that truth after the
natural course of listening is submitted to.