Writings about Music

Manhattan Smoke and Miracle Mile Incense

There is a thin line between composition and improvisation. Having just begun yesterday a new composition after nearly a month of contemplation and some delay, with the overall structural form settled yet comfortably fluid for spontaneous impulses, I am now happily drowning in the nectar of Raga Kirvani’s divine swaras, the sounds of which came to me while listening to a new song by a local African American artist of considerable fame - Snoop Dogg. It charms me how I am essentially breathing the same air at the same time as this person from essentially another strastosphere, finding a common link.

At Smoke in upper Manhattan last weekend, I heard Gary Bartz worship at the timeless and placeless and invisible shrine of Jackie McLean and John Coltrane with his extraordinarily tempered and inspired alto saxophone, reminding me of his superb collaboration with McLean on the Ode to Super album.

Bartz is a true musical wizard in our midst! He was able to shine his brightest because pianist Larry Willis, drummer Al Foster and bassist Buster Williams are all equally great. Every college in America should bring this quartet to their community as close to now as possible to experience the art of improvisation in one of its finest present-day incarnations.

- Michael Robinson, August 2015, Los Angeles

© 2015 Michael Robinson All rights reserved

Gary Bartz

Larry Willis

Al Foster

Buster Williams

Heads of State: Search for Peace

Jackie McLean

John Coltrane

Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer.