An Exploration of Spiral Motion
When I rededicated myself to the exploration of improvisation, which was about twenty-five years ago, I did it for the express purpose of purging intellectualism from my music. My mind had reached the point where it tried to control every aspect of my composition, and I felt that it was really becoming a hindrance to expressiveness. I tried to just play, listen and not control. It was hard, and it took some patience, but after about nine or ten months I began to loosen up and just let it happen. Later, when I decided to record what I was doing, I discovered that there were some things I did naturally to keep my music flowing and making sense.
Since one of the aspects of music I was “forgetting” was a regular rhythm and meter, I found that I would instead create momentum using cyclic gestures. New music I was creating was always presented with a sense of returning. I am not talking about “form” as much as just musical syntax. Continuous variation must make continuous reference back to the source or, in other words, a variation is just an altered repetition. And since what I was repeating has also been altered, there is continuous change. This kind of motion feels circular, and since there is also forward motion, the motion is more like a spiral.
So this album is a celebration of this spiral motion. The famous and delicious sandwich of the same name derives from the meat being roasted on a turning spit over a flame or coals. Each track explores a different instance of circular motion.
A Samara is a winged seed, like a maple seed. Growing up, we used to call them “helicopters” and would throw them up in the air and let them spiral back to earth. Windmills has captured the imagination of writers for centuries, but it is the steady and taciturn movement that is portrayed here. A dancer’s Pirouette, on the other hand, is a twirling flourish of a totally different sort. Ultrasound takes me back to my wife Leslie’s first sixteen-week appointment, where my daughter’s incessant spinning in vitro left me in a state of heart-rending astonishment! The slow, banded rotation of a Gas Giant is a model of patience and wisdom. Willow Branches in the wind become a crown of wooden bolas swinging amidst its wary winged residents. Vertigo is what happens when you take all these spirals a little too seriously.