I’m not aware of another project quite like the Duo Exchange / Lost Civilizations collaboration, which was renewed on August 16th in front of a small gathering at the Black Squirrel in Washington, D.C. The musicians who form Lost Civilizations—Ted Zook (basscello) and Mike Sebastian (saxophones)—improvise from the beginning; on this night, Sam Lohman accompanied them on drums. The words—Rod Smith and I doing business as Duo Exchange—have no predetermined order. The entire performance, clocking in at just over sixty minutes, invents and reinvents. For a free listen (and free download) at SoundCloud, click [HERE].
Rod and I continue to experience amazement (even awe and euphoria) over the accomplishments of the musicians. It’s hard not to think of language like “tensile sway, swing-swang, magical fracture, muscular patterning, projective texture” when listening to them. For me, the night created at least three maps: (a) the music; (b) the words; and (c) the two layers together. As a reader, I’m always stunned at when the music pushes me to deliver language with emphases and cadences I hadn’t counted on; these effects undoubtedly bounce back and forth from Us to Them, from Them to Them, and from Us to Us. The learning curve is steep and enormously gratifying.
On this night, I should point out that we were joined by a fellow who, attracted by the music, came downstairs to participate a little bit. You can hear him in the 47th minute, as well as when he repeats a word (“honky”) from the grand finale. Did I mention that we had a grand finale? Rod and I both spoke at the same time as the band honked, rattled, and sawed, from about 47:50 through 52:05. I’m not saying you should fast-forward there, automatically, but you should know that it’s coming. In all my years of writing and reading, I never before experienced the raw satisfaction as I derived therefrom. I’m very fortunate to be a part of this collaboration.
Finally, I’m reminded of a jazz hero—Sonny Rollins—and one of his great songs, “St. Thomas”—as Lost Civilizations played onward. I want to say St. Sonny. Oh yeah!