Writings about Music
Dazzling Gemstone Rings
Including Comments From A Gifted Musician Friend
Receiving this response from a gifted musician friend to a new interview in "Fifteen" Questions, located in Berlin, I felt it was remarkable enough to place here, including having permission and preserving privacy. Prior to this new interview there was an earlier interview of note also conducted by Tobias Fischer, a leading musicologist of our time. Answering a question in the response, there are not necessarily fifteen questions; rather the number of questions may vary.
Thinking of Germany, Lee Konitz had invited me to visit him at his home in Cologne, but I never made it there unfortunately. Lee and his wife also had an apple farm literally on the border of Poland and Germany where you could easily toss an apple from one county to the other.
My intent is to visit Germany and Austria especially given how so much amazing music originated from that region.
On one occasion, I was introduced by a very reliable person to a glowing, mysterious gentleman who practiced dentistry in Beverly Hills at astronomical prices, also said to be a gifted healer beyond his more common practice. He seemed to have stepped out of time, with a name suggesting French derivation, knowing things people aren't supposed to know, wearing the most incredibly large and dazzling gemstone rings on eight of his fingers excepting thumbs, putting even Liberace to shame. For some reason, upon asking a few questions, including learning I was a composer, and gazing warmly at me in a most penetrating manner, he insisted with absolute certitude that I was German even after telling him how my father's parents were from Russia, and my mother's parents were from Hungary and Poland, all of them Jewish. There was something about him reminiscent of a highly influential piano teacher, Barney Bragin, who taught me Bach and boogie-woogie. Of course, the exact borders between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German Empire appear blurred going back in history, with the official language of the former being Austrian-German. This fascinating man, no longer with us, also said I was gifted (he used another more extreme word) in at least twelve additional intellectual disciplines outside of music that I simply had not taken the time to develop. My father did tell my when I was very young that I had the ability to pursue any profession. His best friend's son is now the chief safety engineer for NASA.
Come to think of it, the gentleman wearing multiple rings also brings to mind stories Ravi Shankar told about his spiritual guru, Tat Baba.
In any event - the above paragraph sounds like it could be the makings of a screenplay! - here is the interview response:
"I read the interview, which is very good and exemplifies your musical work.
When they say, 15 questions, they mean anything within that number? I counted 10 questions for you.
I liked different ideas and thoughts you put forth:
The idea of “striking the note” ahata nada, and or letting the instrument play itself but for some gentle guidance and or becoming something of a medium the music passes through.
Interestingly, there is also a strong cultural influence in that art and music is often reflective and born from the culture it comes from reflecting that culture in every way.
Your music is born from deep improvisation melded with the technical expressing the very nature of deep transformation.
Your music is boundless within the boundary of the concept of freedom and as it uses the ancient form of “raga” it does so in a visionary digital template breaking all tradition.
It, your creation, is presented not posed:
As if the deep subtlety of influence of the inside giving birth to the outside.
The interview from Germany, allowed you to express what you are.
Again, I wish to thank my musician friend for these comments.
- Michael Robinson, August 2021, Los Angeles
© 2021 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and musicologist who has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University. His 155 albums include 148 albums for Meruvina and 7 albums of piano improvisations.