As you may have surmised by now, the new IJG recording will not "drop" this year. (Boy, do I hate that phraseology, by the way.) This despite my best efforts. Of course, release delays are typical for even a major label effort -- but when your project is indie, snags in the production process may be that much more acute, cuz chances are you're doing almost everything yourself.
Ah well. In our case the issue is twofold. First, "final mixdown" continues to be pushed back because of scheduling conflicts (leaving me more time to tweak and fiddle -- which is fine, but only to a point). And second, as I have gotten deeper into the mixes (thanks to the more or less permanent temptations presented by my paltry excuse for a basement studio), I have revised the, uh, "conceptual core" of the project.
You may recall that I had been referring to this thing as "The Art of the Mix Tape." No more. I did not jettison the title because I no longer like it (who knows, it may still come in handy someday) but because it doesn't really fit the essentially live album that is emerging. The new working title is LEEF (a misappropriation of a Dutch word), for reasons that I'll explain if I actually get to use it (it turns out the Bimhuis folks may want to have some say in what we call the album -- more on that if necessary).
Wait, did I say "several versions"? Yeah, I guess I did. Since I managed to cut the middle man out of the preliminary mixing process, and I don't have to pay someone an hourly fee to "fiddle and tweak," I have the luxury of experimenting with different conglomerations of the material to see what works best. As a result, I still haven't decided if I want this to be a long-ish album (like, over 60 minutes), or a more concise one. And I still haven't decided which tunes to use exactly. And I still haven't decide how live I want it to be. Originally I was planning on using about half of the Bimhuis show, and filling out the rest with studio tracks and "non-live" experiments, plus one or two other segments recorded live elsewhere. But it seems like more bits from Amsterdam keep sneaking in every week. (It's amazing how a decent mix can reveal some magic in performances that I thought were hopelessly flawed.) There are so many possibilities; maybe I'll just have to release 'em all somehow.
Maybe I'm staying so noncommital so late in the process because flexibility seems to be the name of the game these days. I feel the same about the format wars: I'm pretty open to everybody's arguments, and so I'm drawn to releasing a download version of the record for the kids and the iPodders (and a FLAC version for the really hip folks), a CD for the mainstreamers, an LP for the audiophiles, a "director's cut version," some web-only extras, maybe a deluxe DVD-CD pairing that includes higher-quality versions of some of the video currently on YouTube, and so on. Sure, part of me wants to go "exclusively electronic" with the release (bypassing the expensive replication process), but I don't think we're really in a position to do that yet. After all, we're not a huge band, and we need all the audiences we can get. So for now, I think I'm just going to avoid assuming that there will be one definitive version of the record (though I'm sure I'll have my own favorite).
What else? Despite the delays, I'm really excited about this monstrosity. It will be our first release to feature a singer -- and probably the first "official" CD I will ever have made with Ms. Knapp -- Gruel doesn't really count because it was truly DIY, and distributed via CD-R, for crissakes. (I have been making music with this chick for more than 20 years, so it seems crazy that it took so long for us to actually release something spiffy, eh?) This will also be our first recording to feature the IJG pseudo-big-band lineup (15 people), our typical configuration for the last two years.
Oh yeah, and it will also be our first release to hypothetically require a “parental advisory” label for strong language -- assuming I actually cared about such things.
Which I don't. Though I suppose I should elaborate for anyone who hasn't seen our current show. The linguistic offensiveness I'm alluding to has to do with the eminently guttural glory of the word “fuck,” which we employ 1. lyrically, 2. in one of our titles, and 3. in some of the spoken-word segues that will probably fill out the record. None of this will be particularly surprising to those of you who read this blog regularly (lord knows I don’t shy away from obscene language), or, for that matter, for anyone who has even the slightest connection to a culture of musicians. (Certain obscenities are simply part of the day-to-day language of most folks who move in these circles.)
Why the naughty bits, you ask? I guess the word "fuck" reminds me that one of the things that drew me to making music in the first place was the thought of participating in some kind of constructive rebellion. You know, expressing dissatisfaction with a status quo, and trying to point toward something better. (Yeah, music used to have that kind of effect on people. It's easy to forget that when Ornette Coleman first hit the scene, his music alone could provoke fisticuffs.)
Anyway, maybe I'm wrong, but in our jaded culture, the word "fuck" still seems to carry that kind of transgressive (but also funny, and potentially joyful and celebratory) power -- at least, I assume, for most of the audiences that listen to jazz here in the States (e.g., it's hard to imagine someone getting away with deliberately uttering it onstage at Lincoln Center). And that sort of complex transgression is part of what I'm after in my music too.
Why, the word "fuck" is almost as offensive as Janet Jackson's tit -- and much more aesthetically pleasing.
Oh yeah, and here's a picture of a "monster pile" that Thandie drew before breakfast this morning. Happy belated Halloween to all.