Jerry Granelli - Vancouver '08

"It's easy to mention Jerry Granelli's accomplishments, but hard to really make clear his importance, or the way he's continuously, over forty years, been at the forefront of most of the innovations and new movements in jazz music - Granelli remains one of the best working drummers in any genre of music, but the band's just as fine - this is an electric-guitar quartet unlike any other." (Paul Olson, "Jerry Granelli: Groovemaster or Destroyer?", All About Jazz)

For the third V16 release (following the double live SACD The Sonic Temple, 2007), we wanted to show just how this band works by producing a performance DVD as part of the package. Directed by Colin McKenzie, whose 2002 documentary Jerry Granelli: In the Moment is still the best introduction to Granelli's world, Live at Ironworks documents the band's Vancouver gig days before going into the studio to make the new record. Featuring many of the new tunes played in an even more freewheeling fashion, the video shows the non-verbal interconnectedness that is so much a part of the band's improvisational dynamic. (The DVD, which also includes some interview material, is only available as part of this 2-for-1 package.)

V16 is the culmination of Jerry's longtime love affair with 2-guitar bands, starting in 1975 at Boulder's Naropa Institute, and notably including his '90s Berlin-based band UFB in which his student Christian Kögel played. It's also, like everything he does, an expression of his Buddhist practice as a disciple of Chõgyam Trungpa. Commenting on the quotation from Trungpa on the digipak, Jerry says: "Since I encountered Buddhism, and particularly Trungpa Rinpoche (who you know was an artist, and there's a series of his teachings called Dharma Art), there's been this whole idea of how an artist doesn't pollute, that the art is a way of waking people up and not laying trips on them. That somehow it's about getting it down to this simple task orientation of serving the music, and trying not to govern the audience's experience, letting everyone have their own experience of what they're hearing, including hating it. That the music is a reflection in some sense of the musician's mind, the openness that they might be experiencing in that moment."

And the openness relates to the way this 16-string organism functions: "It's about people who are willing to work in this collective, spontaneous, orchestral way. Guitars and electric bass are fantastic for this because they have so many different sonic aspects. A lot of it has to do with the pedals, and also for example the way Tronzo prepares the guitar, and in this band the totally distinct sound of the two guitars, plus J on bass has his effects too - which definitely affects the timbres that I then apply with the drums, as well as the volume at which I can play. The timbres and electricity of the guitars provide a tremendous access for me and for the music."

J. Anthony adds, "Everyone in the band has a very developed sense of style and the modalities of how they like to play. It would be very easy for each of us to say, 'Hey this is how I do it, it works, so don't mess with it,' but that has never happened. Consequently, the band has always had to move forward." Jerry provides an example of this ongoing development: "Any moment anything can happen in terms of the focus shifting, and I think that all of the compositions reflect that this time. There's almost a different role for each instrument in every composition. In J. Anthony's 'Planting' the drums are the main soloist; in Tronzo's 'The Truth' he and I are basically the rhythm players, the bass is the melody instrument. It's a way of composing for the instruments that's less predictable, and much more open or vast - it has a bigger view." J. adds: "My goal is to get to the atomic level of music, the most fundamental level. Composing for the band is great because I know that everyone's musicianship and instincts will tease out the meaning in the notes - I always want to hear clarity of the parts, the strings all sounding as one, the rub of dissonance and the openness of the resolution. I like to be able to chew on the music for a while." Jerry: "There's a lot of musical scholarship in this band - the understanding of what it takes to make something sound like it's a real experience, that if it grooves it really grooves. I don't think I'd be playing in V16 if it wasn't so challenging and exciting. To hear the CD or DVD and go, how the hell did I do that, and how the hell can I ever do that again? - that's really great."

David Tronzo, electric slide guitar;
Christian Kögel, electric guitar;
J. Anthony Granelli, electric bass;
Jerry Granelli, drums