Andreas Schmidt / アンドレアス・シュミット

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Not Ended

( text edited by Nick Lyons & Andy Fite )

Paul Bley had to leave. Or he simply paused his presence with the people around him. He did not end it. I wrote these same words about Masabumi Kikuchi some months ago. Coincidentally, Kikuchi moved into Paul´s loft in the 1970´s, and I remember spending time in this loft listening to a Paul Bley recording while sitting at the piano with Kikuchi as we tried to figure out what chord Paul was playing in a certain spot in one of the songs.
I was trying to play improvised music when I was eighteen, and my great piano teacher Aki Takase told me, around 1986, to check out Paul Bley. He sounds “similiar“ to my way of playing, she said… well?! That was the start of the long-term Bley influence on my music. I went deeply into his great legato, behind-the-beat phrasing on the recordings from the 1950s. I transcribed the amazing very slow rubato ballads on the CD “Open To Love“, trying to produce that crystalline singing sound on the Steinway myself. And surely every jazz pianist has checked out his greatest and weirdest way of playing standard changes from the recording he did with Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins in 1963: “All The Things You Are”.
I had to meet this person some day! And in 1992, I saw my chance. I was in NYC and somehow got Paul’s phone number. I pulled myself together, called him and spoke into his answering machine. A few hours later the phone rang. It was three in the morning! Half asleep I said my name and heard Paul´s voice just asking casually, “This is Paul Bley, what can I do for you?“ He was in California just then– a different time zone. That was a waking dream! I told him I was in the jazz study program in Berlin and I wanted to write my thesis about him. I asked if he could tell me something about his music. He said he would be in Germany in a few weeks, and we could meet at his hotel room in Hamburg.
As you can imagine, I went. My father Helmut had gone with me in those years to a lot of concerts, so it was natural for us to drive to Hamburg for this. We went to the concert and to Paul´s hotel. Me with my recording machine asking strange questions about music. And Paul answering with cryptic statements, and telling me why one should sit higher on the piano bench. It was so much fun, very inspiring. He became my role model for playing Jazz. He advised: Practice makes imperfect (meaning preparing too much of what you want to play at your concerts). As much risk and improvisation as possible. Be in the moment. Do not play what you played yesterday.
Sometimes we exchanged faxes (paper-based communication!), and Paul usually wrote two or three words on the paper he had received and faxed it back to me. Yeah. Minimalist style. Via phone I remember he said I should talk to one of his young daughters instead of him. They were in their teens, and very very smart!
The years went by. Another time my father and I (sometimes my mother Heidi also joined us; we went to the jazz festival in Den Haag together) took a holiday in Malta when Paul was playing there. I spent the day before the concert with Paul, Lee Konitz, and Steve Swallow outdoors at the swimming pool. I wish I had thought to take a photo of that gang of youngsters!
Another concert I went to with my father was in a big hall, and beforehand the audience strolled around outdoors and sat at tables, as did Paul and I, talking. Time passed, and soon all people were gone, and we were still sitting there. I mentioned that the concert would start soon. Well. He stood up very slowly, and we walked, very slowly, the five minutes to the entrance of the concert hall, where we could hear Jimmy Giuffre and Steve Swallow already playing! I went to my seat, and Paul went to his, slowly climbing up the stairs to the stage in the middle of the music, sitting down and joining the “conversation“ on stage with his piano playing.

Paul was not one to rehearse or do a soundcheck. What ever he did on the piano was part of a performance. Art: It was him, his music, his life. I remember in Essen, Germany he drove the radio engineers crazy when he did not want to do a sound-check with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. I wish I had been brave enough to say “Hey, I can do the sound-check for Paul!“ But I did make a recording with Peacock later, and on Paul´s recommendation: “Berlin, 1999“, a concept album with my dear friend Celine Rudolph singing my looping, risky lines on standard tunes.

One of the last times I saw Paul was in Cherry Valley, where he lived with his wonderful wife Carol and their two daughters Angelica and Vanessa. One was just finishing school, and the other had already moved to San Francisco.
After lunch in a nearby restaurant, we sat in his sunny garden. Paul gave me one of his 30-some-odd hats, and that’s where the photo you can see here was taken. I will remember him as that hero of mine who shaped my piano playing and musical thinking. But also I will remember him simply as a gentle, interesting, and funny person who enjoyed life tremendously.
He was so kind as to write the liner notes to my first CD “Haiku“, which I did with Lee Konitz, Jerry Granelli and Rudi Mahall in 1994. And he did some liner-note poetry on my music just a short time ago, for my 2015 Paul Motian homage “E-Motian´s“ (Jan Roder on bass and drummer Max Andrzejewski). Carol offered a painting of hers for the front cover.
They got the final CD some months ago in Florida via mail, so the last encounter with Paul was via e-mail. Carol wrote me “Paul says ’Hi’”.


*テキスト編集:ニック・ライオンズ & アンディ・ファイト


僕が18の頃、即興音楽を演奏しようとしていたのだが、僕の素敵なピアノ教師・高瀬アキからポール・ブレイを研究するようにいわれた。1986年頃のことだ。彼女によれば「ポールは私のピアノの弾き方に似ているから」ということなのだが、さて...? 何れにせよ、それがきっかけとなり、僕の音楽にブレイの影響が延々と続いているのだ。彼の50年代の録音に聴かれる長いレガート奏法や、ビハインド・ザ・ビートを特徴とするフレージングにどっぷり浸かってしまったというわけだ。CD『オープン、トゥ・ラヴ』の驚くべき超スロウなルバートのバラードを採譜し、自分のスタインウェイであのクリスタル・ラインの歌うようなサウンドを再現しようとトライしてみた。そして、1963年にポールがソニー・ロリンズやコールマン・ホーキンスと録音したスタンダード<オール・ザ・シングス・ユー・アー>で彼が弾いた素晴らしくも手の込んだ和音のチェンジをどのピアニストもが解き明かそうとしたのだ。






ポールはリハーサルやサウンドチェックをするミュージシャンではなかった。彼がピアノで音を出すということはすべてが演奏の一部だった。アート:それがポールであり、ポールの音楽であり、ポールの人生だった。ドイツのエッセンでのこと、ポールがゲイリー・ピーコックとポール・モチアンのトリオでサウンドチェックをしないため、ラジオのエンジニアたちを舞い上がらせてしまうことがあった。僕が勇気を出して、「へい、僕がポールの代わりにサウンドチェックをやってあげるよ」と言い出したかったのだが。その後、ポールの推薦でピーコックとレコーディングする機会が巡ってきた。『ベルリン 1999』というコンセプト・アルバムで、親友のセリーヌ・ルドルフがスタンダード曲で僕が書いたルーピングの危なっかしいラインを歌ったのだ。




フロリダにいた彼らが僕のCDを郵便で受け取ったのは死の数ヶ月前のことだった。そしてポールとの最後の交信はeメールを通じてだった。キャロルから「ポールがHi!と言ってるわよ」と短いメールが届いた。(ピアニスト 在ベルリン)

Andreas Schmidt / アンドレアス・シュミット
2016年にUNIT RECORDSからトリオ・アルバムを発売予定。1966年よりベルリンのジャズ・クラブ「A-Train」に毎月曜日出演。共演者は、ゲイリー・ピーコック、デイヴ・リーブマン、トーマス・ヘベラー、マーク・マーフィー、ジェイ・クレイトン他。