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Columns > Randy Ray - Peaches En Randalia

Published: 2008/11/23
by Randy Ray

we lived in a dream, the wind repeated, and the dream lived in us

Peaches En Randalia #33
and the dream lived in us (or, the messy eccentric and the muse-y ethereal)
Part III
Dean Budnick – Now that some time has passed, looking back, what would you say is the most significant thing you took away from that [Phil Lesh & Friends] experience?
Jimmy Herring – In a word: songs. Ive played mostly with people where songs werent the issue. The main thing was improvisation and pushing yourself technically, harmonically. And then when I started playing them my whole focus had to shift from that to Oh my god Ive got to learn 200 songs. Thats the biggest lesson and Im so grateful for that.- Jimmy Herring: Let It Z, by Dean Budnick,, May 18, 2006
Difficult music by its very nature isnt supposed to include digestible sequences. This form of musicoften improvisatory but not necessarilyis meant to either divert the listener from any preconceived path, whereby one either enjoys the work, winces at alleged self-indulgence or runs screaming from the room. And difficult jazzlets go even furtherdifficult free jazz can get even more cumbersome for the trickie-earred.
I wrote that above paragraph nine months ago about Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestras self-titled 2008 release. Our Site Editor and Relix Senior Editor, Dean Budnick conducted the interview excerpted above it with Jimmy Herring 30 months ago. He also spoke with the guitarist for the current issueDecember/Januaryof Relix magazine which is equally intriguing for its insight into Herrings journeyman humility.
Just surviving these days seems to be the topic of choice for so many worried about their next paycheck, the government, gas prices, food and other consumer goods, the violent nature of some of our neighboring nations across the Atlantic and elsewhere, and pretty much any other pre-Apocalyptic ingredient for a total global breakdown. In other words, it is a good time to hold onto your foundation, and hope the wind is kind to your back.
And what exactly is ones foundation, anyway?
I suppose it varies from person to person, culture to culture, empire-creating nation-state to nation-state, and so on. That is the obvious thing to think, but I also feel that how one handles The Changes goes a lot further into the depths of what life is really all about. Take, for example, a piece of music. Once recorded, the sounds are forever embedded in ones consciousness so as to remember the memorable tuneor lack there of, as the case may be with free jazz. Hence, once that tune has floated into the immortal ether, the piece also has a chance to stay ever elusive (my current favorite words) in a parallel universe by planting the song in the sub(un?)conscious so, either through muscle memory, talent, experience playing music, or a combination of all threeplus, the relevant definitions, or lack there of, of said person, place or thing influencing the jazz-y dude in a rhythmically tangible Schrger’s Cat box of sound (or something felinesque like that)a musician has the ability to play variations on the aforementioned memorable tune. Choices, dig.
In the end, I think weve stumbled upon what makes life both interesting and frustrating. The choice to experience a feeling, or an emotion, or the impact of another living being is, indeed, a miracle. More daunting and cosmic, is to have the chance to make an impact on this astral plane, or, in this case, another person, place or thing. Tread lightly, dig.
How does improvisatory or, for the sake of one my passions, jamband music fit into this thematic shuffle about our current global economic, political, societal, and cultural strife? WellI sometimes think just learning a bit from experience, listening to the wind, heeding the inner voice of ones own counsel after careful contemplation, and letting go of the critical fourth eye that seems to see everything while criticizing our achievements and illuminating our faults, needs to be blinded from time to time. After all, if one is to become fluent in the free jazz of life, the Grateful Dead walk-the-talk vibe, as it were, one does need to shun the doubt within. The devil aint out there; he inside. Just dig, dig.
- Randy Ray stores his collaborative third-eye bits at He hasnt updated his site lately due to his third novel, children, and other lame excuses grown men shouldnt use when missing a task or four on the road of life. Ill do it!

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