|Letter 1||listen to|
Oh, what a day! At last I've found time to sit down and write you a letter. It's two o'clock in the morning in Vienna now, the rest of the family is asleep. Once you told me that you can't imagine my life in Europe. At that time I thought it would be impossible to describe it all in a few sentences. But, I feel, the time has come to try to tell you about what is happening here. Well, it's been almost two years since that I, like a burning meteorite, landed on the European improvised - music scene. To be more exact, since the time this pulsating magma called free music burst into my secure, measured way of life. But the intensity of these events was so great that I needed time to understand what was happening. Everything started when I bought an LP by Vladimir Tarasov called ATTO IV. I loved the music. Intrigued by this new name I started making enquiries among my friends and fellow-students as to whether they knew anything about this musician. My research led me to the recordings of Ganelin, Tarasov and Chekasin. Having listened to their music I feverishly started checking out gramophone libraries and private collections for any recordings of the contemporary Russian underground as well as free Jazz LPs from the West. At the same time quite intuitively I started listening to ethnic recordings from Siberia. Surprisingly, all the different music blended together easily in my head. I head already been hearing music that would emerge in my performances much later.
I spent many sleepless nights dreaming about the music. Sometimes I was paralised with terror and delight at the same time. Then I met a group of improvising musicians from Moscow. Their name was TRI-O. From this moment everything developed. Effortlessly, smoothly, like in a movie. I never thought about what I should do at this or that particular moment. I had a feeling that everything was happening without my participation. The music had not even started, but I already knew what it would be, I never had any doubts that everything we played should be very beautiful. I was just singing, and I believed that everything I was confessing in front of the audience was the truth and nothing but the truth. This is exactly what happened at the jazz festival in Munster, then at Rote Fabrik in Zurich, and during the whole tour of the West with the TRI-O. But at the end of the tour I felt very limited by the twenty minutes which TRI-O allowed me to sing.
You understand, Papa, the music was seething inside me, trying to get out. So I decided to perform on my own. Strange ... again everything happened as though I was not involved in these events. Having heard about a singer from the depths of Siberia, festival organisers and managers used to contact me and send me invitations.
My first performances went down very well. It was already 1990, and I had to play with different musicians as managers were interested not only in solo performances, but to see me in different combinations. They were probably curious about the blend of Oriental mentality and singing technique with a Western style of improvising. Having performed with some Western musicians, such as Werner Lüdi, Co Streif, Irene Schweizer and some other young and talented musicians, I began to feel that I needed more information about new music. I felt that I was capable of improvising, but I didn't know enough about the inherent logic and aesthetics of improvisation. My studies in between the tours were very intensive. Because I couldn't speak English I was like a fish out of water anywhere off-stage. I could only gesticulate with my hands or nod with my head. I started learning English and at the same time started listening to the music of the '60s, free jazz of the '70s, John Coltrane, early recordings of Cecil Taylor. I listened to vocal recordings of the '70s and '80s, experimental vocal recordings of Dimitry Stratus from Greece, Diamanda Galas, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, and also folk music and world music. I listened to songs of Eskimo people from Alaska, African pygmies, choral music from Bulgaria and Corsica, and also songs from Sardinia. But at the same time I listened to the classical music of the Far East, classic Chinese operas, Korean and Japanese music, Noh theatre, kabuki and gagaku music. My life became so crammed with events that I had not time between the tours. I had to graduate from the institute and then start postgraduate work, I had to learn English, I had to listen to all this music. But at the same time I was my own manager. I had to respond to invitations, to plan tours, to obtain visas from Embassies, to buy plane and train tickets, etc. I had a feeling that I was to taking part in a very complicated motor-race, and yet I didn't even know how to drive a car. And not only did I have to stay alive, but I had to make the top ten.
I don't know why or howI survived. The difficulties emerged later. Of course, sometimes I felt very tired and overstretched, but it was a pleasant tiredness.
I shall finish my letter here.
..so, Papa, I think the time has come to seriously think about why and what for I came into this world. What is the meaning of my life? It seems that having wandered for two years I am beginning to comprehend my real role in this world. I think that I am a necessary connecting link in the chain of cultural continuity between the past and future, between the people of the East and the West. Like an antenna, tuned to a certain frequency, I perceive ideas in the form of images and thoughts and I believe in their realization. The basis of these ideas is the community of people, their historic continuity, expressed in music, in my singing...
March 11, 1993, Tokyo
Dedicated to my Father
Joelle Leandre, bass|
Mats Gustafsson, bar, sax
Sten Sandell, piano, voice
Mathias Kielholz, el.g.
Mathias Gloor, synth.
and Lucas N. Niggle, perc.