Traveling with Electronics : Konfrontation & Freedom

Real freedom comes from letting go of your own ideas

.....accomplish that and nothing is impossible.


After my dear friend Butch Morris left the planet in January of 2013, I posted my remembrance, as did so many around the world who knew and loved this great artist. A few weeks later I got a phone call from Hans Falb, The man responsible for the preeminent festival of improvised music - KONFRONTATIONEN. He had seen my blog and told me that he wanted to do a memorial concert for Butch at this year's festival. It was to be a CONDUCTION in honor of Butch, performed by a hand picked ensemble, and he wanted me to conduct. I said yes of course.

   image of Dino & Butch by Zack Garlitos

                                    Hans                                                                     Dino & Butch


This would be the 34th KONFRONTATIONEN Festival and my fourth appearance :    X-COMMUNICATION 1989 - BUTCH MORRIS QUARTET 1994 - PLUGGED IN ZEITREEL 1997. In my book it is a true honor to be invited to play at this festival and I have big love and respect for Hans Falb and every one involved with keeping this amazing festival of improvised music thriving for 34 years.....that is really something!


The festival is held at the JAZZGALERIE in Nickelsdorf Austria. Nickelsdorf is a small farming village about 30 minutes outside of Vienna near the Hungarian border and the JAZZGALERIE is a combination restaurant and nightclub with a very large (covered) outdoor area where the festival is held and is certainly one of the most unlikely places that one would expect to find a yearly festival of very adventurous improvised music. It's a festival big of heart and I've witnessed real magic there.    http://www.konfrontationen.at/


Hans and I hand picked the ensemble and they were all very eager to pay homage to the maestro. I had three sessions with them before we performed the Butch Morris Memorial Conduction on July 20th 2013. Please allow me to introduce the ensemble.


                                                                     Paul Lovens - drums, percussion 


Tony Buck - drums, percussion                      Hamid Drake - drums, percussion


Magda Mayas - prepared piano                         Els Vandeweyer - marimba


Liz Allbee - trumpet                                                    Hans Koch - bass clarinet


Eric Arn - electric guitar                                          Tristan Honsinger - cello


Joelle Leandre - contrabass                                 George Cremaschi - contrabass


Christof Kurzmann - laptop (ppooll)                   Hans Falb - turntables



     (This picture of Butch playing cornet hangs in the office and I could feel him smiling down on us)


CONDUCTION is a vocabulary of signs and gestures transmitted by a conductor to an orchestra, providing instantaneous possibilities for altering or initiating : harmony, melody, rhythm, articulation, phrasing or form. Conduction was originated by Lawerence D. "Butch" Morris (2/10/47 - 1/29/13)


Whenever I teach Conduction, be it to an ensemble of performers who have never experienced it before or to an ensemble that is well versed in the form, inevitably the question of FREEDOM arises and what better place for such a question than at a "free music" festival. What is most interesting to me about this question is the context in which it comes up.

When I am working with musicians who come from a jazz or free music background, the question often sounds like this : "Hey man, I'm an improviser and you are telling me what to play. Where is my freedom?"

When I am working with musicians who come from a classical music background, the question often sounds like this : "I'm not an improviser, this is too much freedom. Can you just tell me what you want me to play?" 

Ironically both questions completely miss the point of Conduction and I offer this in response : Real freedom comes from letting go of your own ideas.....accomplish that and nothing is impossible.




The ensemble really stepped up for the concert and was very responsive (it was an honor to create with them), and from the looks on their faces during the show, they were as completely in the moment as I was. The response from the audience was great and we got one of those thunderous ovations.....I think Butch was pleased.

Later that night Hamid Drake performed in a quartet doing free improvisation. I told him how much I enjoyed his set and he began to tell me how he had applied some of the Conduction concepts he learned during the week, to the free set he played. We then had a really thoughtful conversation about freedom, structure and Qi Kung.

At one point he told me that during our set he experienced an intense combination of concentration and elation. This was certainly not the first time that I had heard such a sentiment from a musician after performing a Conduction.




Please check out the videos from the Butch Morris Memorial Conduction. 


until next month then.....safe travels.....dino