DownBeat March 2021

was a huge hit in England and got rave reviews everywhere. And we put it on tour all over the world. We’ve done it probably 70 or 80 times at this point. Which Beatles tunes are heard in the show? “Sgt. Pepper’s,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Within You Without You,” “When I’mSixty-Four” and “ADay InThe Life.” We add a sixthBeatles song, “Penny Lane,” that’s not from the album, but [it was recorded around the same time]. But it’s an evening-length piece. So, how do you make an evening-length dance piece from these six short Beatles songs? I wrote this extended fantasia with different movements that, sort of like the Bud Powell “Simple Spells,” have a tiny little piece of a Beatles tune that got me going. And then I wrote the rest of it. The band is great, including some Brooklyn jazz all- stars like [soprano saxophonist] SamNewsome, [trombonist] Jacob Garchik, [theremin special- ist] Rob Schwimmer and [drummer] Vinnie Sperrazza. The wild card was Schwimmer on theramin. He plays the melody on “A Day In The Life.” It’s sort of like the climax of the show, and there isn’t a dry eye in the house. I gotta tell you, people lose their minds. It’s so beauti- ful. And then, it’s soprano sax and trombone. I love Steve Lacy and Roswell Rudd, and that’s what my idea is: Let’s put Steve and Roswell in the pit with Sam Newsome and Jacob Garchik. We’ve got Colin Fowler on second keyboard; he’s Mark’s music director. And then the excel- lent singer Clinton Curtis. So it’s eight of us altogether. There’s no bass, which is kind of weird, except that I want to keep it in more of a musical-theater zone. If you have bass, then it’s time to rock out. So often, rock revival things rock out harder and harder. The Pepperland music is quite delicate, more like European chamber music. We’re supposed to play it again the minute we can. You started an epic run with The Bad Plus in 2000, and now you find yourself in the early stages of an entirely new chapter. When do you feel that the real Ethan Iverson took shape? Even when I when I was a teenager, I was always aiming for 50. And, actually, I still feel like I’mprettymuch on track. I’ve got twomore years to really dial this in. And then I’ll be good to go. Where are you heading now, in terms of reaching an artis- tic goal? Well, it must be about synthesis, because I do really care about these different things. I really care about Bud Powell. I really care about Stravinsky. I really care about Burt Bacharach. I really care about TV themes. I really care about the avant-garde compositions of Ralph Shapey. But now that we’re in the postmodern era, where everybody draws from all these tra-

ditions, the question is: How deep do you know each stream? I guess I’m trying to get a passing grade in all of these different elements so that I can control them confidently frommy position as curator of the aesthetic, drawing on all these different things. I would never have the wisdom of the elders in any one language, but at least I get a passing grade in it. Do you have any predictions for what’s going to happen in the world of the arts and the role the arts will play in post-pandemic society? The only thing I can say is, once you don’t

have anything, once you don’t have what you had, you might realize how valuable it was. So it’s up to the musicians and the painters and the poets and everybody to make art that reaches people and makes them demand it. And if you’re in the world of jazz, you’ve got to make music that makes people feel like, “I need more of that music.” Everybody was going along at a certain speed before the pandemic. I think there’s a possibility that given a new start, somemusicians or artists or painters will have a new way of lighting a fire that everyone will get warmed by.  DB


Powered by