2 September 2013

Polly Bradfield,Peter Kuhn,Carolyn Romberg- Santa Cruz, House Concert, Mid 70's

Peter Kuhn Clarinetist extraordinaire, and friend of this blog, recently kindly offered to share some fragments featuring Polly Bradfield,himself and Carolyn Romberg , recorded at a house Concert in Santa Cruz California in the 70's

Here's Peter in his own words Reminiscing about that little known scene...one which clearly spawned some major talent!
"I was so happy to see Polly’s album posted and read your kind remarks about her on Lowe & Behold I mentioned the two small samples as a way to honor her further.
 She was a monster piano player back in the day and we were all kind of shocked when she switched to violin.
 This was Santa Cruz in the mid 70’s.
 I was doing a weekly radio show of “new music” on KUSP and a good bunch of us were hanging out, playing together in an informal collective of kindred spirits.
 Our collective community was an organic assemblage without any premeditation or formal intent.
 Some who you might know of included Wayne Horvitz, David Sewelson, Polly Bradfield, Leslie Dalaba, Carolyn Romberg (Torrente), Mark Miller, Chris Brown, Robin Holcomb, Dana Vleck, Bill Horvitz,Jay Clark and more peripherally Doug Weiselman and Paul Chilkov."
Peter Kuhn's Album "Living right"is due to be reissued sometime in the near future on No Business, records along  with previously unheard material, featuring Peter, with William Parker, Wayne Horvitz and Dennis Charles.
Check the No Buisness web site periodically for details.... in the meantime you can watch a Video of Peter
right here on his own you tube channel, of a quartet performance at Environ, from the late  70's , early 80's, featuring Kevin Bell, Dennis Charles...

Heartfelt Thanks to Peter Kuhn for sharing these fragments... we look forward to the No business Release
and wish him the best of luck with its production, release,and dissemination!
Best wishes from us to you!
Here are some excerpts published here by permission, of an interview of Peter Kuhn, by Kenny Inaoka of Tokyo Jazz Review

Kenny Inaoka Interview June 6, 2013

1. Please let us know your current musical activities.

After taking some time off I started performing again this year. This included a concert at the Berkeley Arts Festival with my dear friend Dave Sewelson and his group “The Non Profit Prophets ” (with Scott Walton, Mark Miller, Jim Ryan and Rent Romus) and a concert I organized in San Diego featuring Alex Cline, Nathan Hubbard, Hugh Ragin, Dave Sewelson, and Harley Magsino.

Dave Sewelson is a long time friend, and we’ve played and performed together since the 70’s in a variety of groupings. It was getting a surprise box on my porch from him with a bass clarinet inside that helped awaken the deep joy of playing again. Around this time I connected with the wonderful percussionist Nathan Hubbard here in San Diego. We started playing with some frequency with Louis Damien and Harley Magsino. While I’ve known Alex Cline since high school this was the first time we actually played together.


How about coming activities?

Nathan Hubbard is organizing another concert for us in the summer or Fall and Alex Cline contacted me with a date later in the year with a quartet that includes the brilliant Dan Clucas on cornet. As I am not relying on music for my livelihood I am happy to be performing a few times a year for now, I stay quite busy with a number of other activities that are equally important to me presently. This includes working with recovering addicts, meditation in the local prison and other prison Dharma work.

3 Any action for recordings?

NoBusiness Records is planning to release the original unedited radio broadcast that became “Livin’ Right” later this year along with some unreleased material f rom a quartet concert at “Top of the Park”, NYU with Denis Charles, William Parker and Wayne Horvitz; and some material from a duo concert I did with Denis Charles in Worchester, MA.

In going through my archives I found two recordings I am considering for release independently. One is a beautiful trio recording with Toshinori Kondo and Dave Sewelson. The other is a concert recording from 1985 with William Winant on percussion and Chris Brown on piano and homemade electronic instruments. Dave

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Sewelson will be visiting again in July and we plan to do some recording with Nathan while he is here.

4 What is the reason why you dropped off the scene for pretty long period?

I have been dealing with drug addiction most of my life. In Art Pepper’s autobiography, “Straight Life” he mentions meeting me in Synanon back in 1968. That was one of the first long term rehabilitation centers for drug addicts and alcoholics, I was 14 years old at the time. For many years I was able to use drugs more or less “successfully” and keep music as the number one priority in my life. Unfortunately, I could not see the detrimental effects it was having on my life and career. This is an odd scenario, while I knew how drugs were a huge obstacle in the lives and career of many great musicians I was delusively convinced that I was different. I can see today how narcotics affected my playing, opportunities and lifestyle in many ways I wasn’t aware of or was in denial about. I left NYC, back to California, in what is called a “geographic” attempt to clean up and make things different. Of course, I brought “me” with me, and ran into the same issues wherever I was. The rising cost of addiction resulted in incarceration, loss of relations with family, loss of instruments and ultimately, homelessness. When I finally cleaned up this last time (January 5, 1986) I wanted to “square up” and learn to live as productive member of society. For me it would have been too challenging to be back in old environments, living the same lifestyle without picking up old habits again. I am fortunate to have found a path to contented happiness without drugs and have spent the last 25 years learning to live “life on life’s terms” w ithout any intoxicants.

5 How did you get into drug addiction?

My oldest brother was into drugs before me and I was always fascinated by the illusion of power and control it seemed to offer in changing my relationship to the world. I started using at 10 and that was the mid 60’s. The drug culture was in full swing and it all seemed very romantic to me. Drugs were prevalent and readily available in this period.

6 What sort of drugs you took?

In the beginning I drank, smoked pot, and mainly used psycodelics. After Synanon I got more into pharmaceutical drugs and narcotics. For much of my adult life I was addicted to heroin and other narcotics.

8 Where do drugs bring you to? (How do you feel after taking drugs?)

In the beginning, when drugs were “working” well , I experienced a peace,

calm and euphoria that seemed mystical to me. I could take a little bit and feel good all day, comfortable in my own skin, didn’t particularly care what other people did or thought . I didn’t care that they were a crutch, I thought it wonderful that I could shoot some dope and practice for 6 or 8 hours without a great deal of distraction. Due to the nature of addiction, drugs are an

escalating need and ultimately stopped producing the effects they use to. I would need increasing amounts to feel their effects and did not experience the same

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euphoria. Without realizing it, I was using more and more to chase the original high.

7 Did you cause any troubles due to the addiction?

My personal troubles started quite young, getting thrown out of schools for drug use, going to Synanon, etc. Addicts live a double life. We use but must keep it secret which causes us to masters of deceit. I even had myself conned into believing that I was a victim of bad luck or bad breaks and could not see that I was causing my own problems. I was able to rationalize and justify great wrongs and harm.

Obviously, my family suffered greatly from the fallout of addiction. My oldest brother, who had been my hero growing up, wound up taking his own life due to unmanageability of the disease.    They wound up severing relations with me when it became obvious they could not effectively help me and I know this was incredibly difficult for them. They also suffered the embarrassment of having the police at their door and seeing me self destruct before their eyes.

As time progressed I resorted to more crime and started to suffer legal

consequences of that as well. Needless to say, I was a burden on the system and caused great harm to others with burglaries, theft and armed robbery.

9 What will be caused while you are out of drugs?

I remember hearing stories of John Coltrane kicking heroin on the bandstand at the Five Spot while playing there with Thelonius Monk. I have to tell you, I am no John Coltrane. I would go to Europe and get strung out in Amsterdam and wind up kicking in Austria or elsewhere. This is not fun and only detracts from the music and obviously, from building a career. This caused me embarrassment with promoters, fans and loss of work. When not on the road, running out of drugs was predominantly caused by lack of funds and this clearly led me to a life of crime. I began doing things I never would have considered without regard for anyone or anything.

10 How did you spend every day while you were caught by drugs?

For many years I considered rugs recreational and as mentioned, would shoot some heroin and practice all day long. As the disease of addiction progressed my days were filled with finding the ways and means to get more. This was all that mattered.

11 How could you free from drugs? 12 How long did it take?

13 Could you do it yourself or?

It took me many years to admit that drugs were a problem and no longer a solution. I kept thinking I could clean up for a little bit and then use them successfully the way I use to in the beginning. I found this to be a lie. Once the line was crossed for me there was no going back. I tired many ways to stop. Geographic, like moving from NYC to LA, having a girl friend, not having a girl friend, only drinking, just smoking pot, only using on the weekends, sniffing not

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shooting, smoking not sniffing, only using pills, only drinking beer, etc. I went to drug programs, detox centers, mental institutions, jails, and half way houses. None of these worked for me. This was the hardest time of mu using. I knew I could not keep going on the way I had been but had no idea how to stop. When I did stop I would turn into a time bomb - restless, irritable and discontent. In the end, 12 step programs were the only thing that worked for me. I had tried them before as well but had not really “hit a bottom”. A bottom is a point of surrender where I realized that drugs were the cause of my suffering and that whatever pain I was in, taking drugs would only make my situation worse. I finally learned to look beyond the selective memory and imagining how good it would feel and cultivated an ingrained memory of the fear, loneliness and despair that addiction had caused me. When I was absolutely convinced of this the 12 step programs showed me the way to living a life of greater freedom and happiness than I ever found in the fix, pill or drink. I was convinced I could not stay clean on my own, and became truly willing to go to any lengths to stay clean. This was revelation. Before I had considered cleaning up a punishment and doing without. When I hit a bottom the only thing I was doing without was the pain.


Does Zen help you to recover from? 15

Who is your gur?_ 16

Do you keep Zen practice? If yes, how does it go?

The practice of mindfulness meditation has enriched every area of my life. As an addict, I thought I was pursuing peace but was fundamentally at war with myself. With Zen I look to recognize and transform the seeds of war (greed, anger and ignorance) and transform them with the fruit of understanding. I consider Zen a form of mind training. Unfortunately, I thought I needed drugs to do this for many years. It is said that the root of addiction or alcoholism is selfish, self centered thinking, or what we call “self obsession”. In playing music I had to learn to quiet my mind to get out of my own way. If I was thinking about what people will think, if I sounded hip enough, if I could remember the changes, or “here comes the hard part” I would most often trip on myself. In recovery, Zen and hopefully music, there is a shift from self centeredness to transcending the small self and consideration of what I can offer. It is no longer about my solo or what I want to say, it is more deeply about listening and responding with body, speech and mind as one. In this way we are touching the miraculous, the transcendent whole that is comprised of all the parts but much greater than the parts and are free to use the whole of our self to respond in total awareness, composing instantaneously while relying on and deeply trusting our innate creative essence (Buddha nature). I am ordained in the Plum Village tradition of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who I consider my teacher. This is not an intellectual practice and I apologize if my explanation comes off as such. It is a simple way to touch the wonders of life with every mindful breath, cultivating freedom and stability in the here and now, recognizing conditions for happiness and the capacity to transform and heal suffering.

This is what drew me to music: the capacity to touch something transcendent, to offer the purest expression of my heart and hopefully transmit the same to others. I remember getting a letter once from someone who told me they had been

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depressed and put on my first album,   “Livin’ Right” and it cheered them up. It was a moment of awakening and I knew   my purpose as a creative artist had been fulfilled. Since ancient times music   has been a vehicle for raising spirits, at the core all artists are healers, in   my opinion.

So, I practice Zen daily, and cultivating mindfulness I develop concentration and the fruit of understanding ripens all on its own. Most of my time is spent working with recovering addicts and doing prison Dharma work. I have learned to use the skills of an improvising artist to listen deeply and spontaneously respond in ways that might be most effective in the moment, rather than clinging to dogma, or preconceptions. I see this as no different than music and it is why I am happy to perform a few times a year now. As it is not my livelihood or sole means of fulfillment I do not grasp after it with an insatiable desire for more. Music is not my identity, but is a beautiful way to express what cannot be said in other ways.

New music, both classical and jazz, altered the consciousness of the world. It taught us new ways of perception, cultivated new neural pathways in the brain. We were encouraged to released preconceptions about noise, harmony, good and bad. I believe this creates a cultural shift that has, in part, been responsible for the USA having a person of color in the White House. Zen helps me continue to grow this awakening while growing skillfulness at helping others transform suffering.


Where are you from? 18

Were you born in the musical family? 19

Could you explain the background of your family if you do not mind? 20

When did you show interest in music? And in what sort of? 21

What is your first musical instrument? 22

Where did you study music?

I was born in Los Angeles, February 25 th , 1954. I was the youngest of three

brothers. My mother is from London and my father met her there during WWII. Neither of them are the least bit musical, but it must be somewhere in the genes because my mother’s brother played Swing drums. I was encouraged (forced) to take piano lessons starting around age 6 or 7 but the teachers didn’t communicate any joy of playing so I resisted it. Mainly classical but I managed to mix in a bit of Boogie Woogie. My mother kept insisting I would thank her one day and I suppose I do. This continued for 4 or 5 years until I took up clarinet in Junior High band class. They had run out of saxophones and I came to love the woody sound of the horn. That’s when music started to be more fun . It wasn’t until I heard Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy and Sun Ra that I felt there was music vital to my spirit that I had a call to play. When I discovered Perry Robinson I felt things crystallize in a profound manner. At that time I began to study music again at UC Santa Cruz. I was fortunate to study composition and performance with James Tenney and Gordon Mumma, and world music with David Kilpatrick.

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the software i've used to pull the text out of PDF's only alows for 5 pages as a trial version... so see comments for a link to the full interview PDF

Visit Henry Inaoka's Tokyo jazz review Webzine here
or his Facebook page here


SOTISE said...

This is Peter Kuhns Fileset
2 pieces in Wav

Nick said...

Thanks Peter and Sotise

Very generous to share this

SOTISE said...

Her's a Link to the Full Henry Inaoka interview of Peter Kuhn

Anonymous said...

thanks. And again. Absolutely wonderful and unexpected post, even by incomperable inconstantsol standards. msj

JC said...

Thanks and thanks for the background/links.

lordDukkha said...

Thanks Sotsie and Pete... I saw pete play in San Diego a few months ago (the one with Alex Cline, Nathan Hubbard, Hugh Ragin, Dave Sewelson, and Harley Magsino) and it was amazing. I'm not sure if it was recorded for public dissemination or not... Pete, any chance of a recording???

Toci said...

Thank you very much.To Peter and Sotis.

sotise said...

BTW.. Peter Kuhn tells me he never received a cent for his superb recording on Black saint soul note-(now owned by Cam Jazz)
"the kill' so perhaps people might take that into consideration when purchasing either a hard copy or download, ask them why this is so at the very least.

JC said...

^ 'Tis not the only artist that has said that about Black Saint/Soul Note!

SOTISE said...

yeah JC , i've heard the same from one other artist... question is what can be done, short of expensive legal action?.... sweet Fuck all i suppose

Nick said...

They are of a kind with the distributors who don't pay, so the labels that try to do right by their artists get shafted too.

Arcturus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arcturus said...

afraid I haven't been paying attention . . .

recorded before I got a new rig, the sound isn't the greatest, but here's video of the aforementioned Berkeley Arts performance last March, Dave Sewelson's Non-profit Prophets w/ Peter Kuhn & w/ Mark Miller:




DW said...

Would it be possible to re-up Peter's music?

Smiley said...

I was love this re-upped, as Polly Bradfield recordings are rare, and I'm really into her music right now! Thanks!