Dan Hill always comes through.

I posted this video a little over a year ago when it was first recorded, but it’s buried deep in the archives now and I think it’s worth posting again, with one important change — much improved sound quality.

The first time around I just used the sound captured by the camera’s built-in microphone, which was decent enough. This time I thought I would marry the video to the proper recording. I would have done that in the first place, had I known how to do it at the time. The very beginning of the song was cut off on the video, and I seem to have lost the original, larger file in the whole virus attack thing that happened last month, so it takes a few seconds for the image to fade in.

Still getting the hang of this new video editing program, too. I tried rendering the file in a few different formats to see what would work best. As a MOV file the video quality was really good but the sound got hammered too much for my taste, so it looks like I’m sticking with WMV files. They seem to strike the best balance between keeping the video/sound quality at a good enough level while also keeping the file size reasonable (300 MB is a bit easier to manage and host than, say, a 10 GB AVI file).

This just reminds me again how much I like the piano/bass improvisations I recorded with Max. For a time I thought a whole album might come out of it. It could be an album if you put all the songs in one place, because there are about five pieces that are album material to my ears, and they range in length from about six to twelve minutes apiece. It just wouldn’t quite feel finished. I don’t think we did quite enough. Maybe if there had been a few more songs that went in different directions.

Still, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with these pieces, because I like them quite a bit and they aren’t really like anything else I’ve been a part of musically. I guess it’s safe to say they’re as close as I’ve ever come to jazz. I’ve wanted to find some way to “release” them, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it or where they should show up.

The idea I came up with a few months back was to throw this material in with the rest of the stuff that’s going to end up on THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE. I talked to Max about this, and he was game, but he also felt we should remake and re-record the improvisations so they were tighter and more focused. “Scripted improvisation” doesn’t hold much appeal for me, though. Part of what I like about what we did record is there’s nothing premeditated about any of it. We weren’t working off of any preconceived melodic ideas. The music found itself as it went along, and you can hear it in the performances. I like the searching quality. for example, there’s a track called “Within the Tonality” that takes seven minutes before it finally settles into a steady groove. I like that it takes its time figuring out where it wants to go.

As much fun as it would have been to experiment with adding different instruments, I enjoy all of the space created by limiting things to piano and upright bass. I think a drummer would have been one cook too many in the kitchen, unless it was a very sympathetic and creative musician sitting behind the drums. When Max and I played at the FM Lounge last summer I almost felt like we were able to do more with just the two of us than we could have done if there were more musicians onstage with us.

I wish I had the little Flip camcorder back then to get that performance on video — especially now, when it looks like another show like that one isn’t likely to happen in my lifetime. Our jazzy take on Springsteen’s “State Trooper” and the stretched-out deconstruction of “Capricorn Cloves” were probably two of the best performances I’ve given in any live setting, and it would be nice to have some documentation of them beyond my memory of the show. The version of “Do the Mountain Hop” with bowed bass and me singing in a normal voice was pretty neat too.

At least I had the good sense to set up some microphones and hit the record button a few times when we got together over here, so we’ve got the jazzy improvised pieces, the best of which will probably appear on that gargantuan album whenever it pulls itself together. I think they’ll fit right in over there.

And the box of CDs at Dr. Disc was empty. Again. I’m running out of words for how nuts this is getting. As of today it’s full again with a bunch of different CDs. I even threw in a few of the old Papa Ghostface albums just for fun.

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