In April, 2014, John Zorn organized a memorial concert for Stephanie Stone at the Stone in New York. Inspired by Stephanie’s warmth and generosity of spirit – her first words were always to ask after my partner and children — I wanted to make something really special in her honor and created an improvisational piece on the contrabass flute. Shortly afterwards, John asked me to make this CD. I had originally thought of playing on a variety of flutes, but John kept encouraging me to focus on the contrabass. His vision was for me to go deeper into the deepest flute than ever and to break through to new musical terrains. I must admit I didn’t think I could do an entire CD on the contrabass and the recording session was a true voyage of discovery, for which I thank John profoundly. Our Cells Know is the best, most original solo improvising I have ever done!
Thanks also to Ned Rothenberg for his supportive, clear eared presence in the studio and to James Dellatacoma, who engineered and got the recorded sound of my dreams. And thanks and deepest love to my daughter Leonie Schlicht, who made the paintings on the front and back covers.
Improvisation has been central to my musical life since childhood. Rather than write pieces for this CD, I just practiced on my low flutes and allowed myself to go where the music wanted. I’m unconcerned with expectations of what a flute should sound like and what a flutist should play. To me, all instruments can be treated as human-powered synthesizers, embracing their traditions but not enslaved to them.
In this music, I have striven to be my most essential self. I thought of myself very little while playing, letting the music speak as unselfconsciously as possible. The contrabass flute offers expanded sonic dimensions in several ways, especially in its extraordinarily rich tone, husky down low and contralto up high, and its amazing percussive realms and surprising rhythmic impact. This is surely the first flute recording of any kind with a piece dedicated to the great rock drummer Ginger Baker, one of my musical heroes.