Small and Leaning Forward, Why 4 Year Olds are The Best Drummers: a Review of Red Hot Go Improv Ensemble at the Fly By Musicians Club

on the way home, i said to my friends "i want to get ziggy to drum for me". i'd already said it in the back room after we jammed. it was ziggy's fourth birthday and his brother's sixth. it was mainly adults at the party. they talked about children, drugs, music, science, maybe not sports this time. some friends rocked up late cooked on speed and alcohol. that doesn't sound too savoury and it kind of wasn't, but at least they could get in the vibe of the wild small and big people gangup game that was happening in the lounge room. i got bitten, i got thrown over someone's shoulder, and i beat up other people with a small soft toy turtle called "Mr Right". chie from the great band … was beating people with a soft shark.

it's a very strange thing how drugs wazzle their way into our lives and then stay there, grow, fade away, destroy everything, make for dumb food decisions and lots of left over dishes for someone else to clean up. usually it's the women that clean things up, whether you're nineteen or thirty five it's just the same. the boys party and make a mess, and you clean it up, while they go away on tour again or to make cooked songs at their own house. they don't notice, and you're not really meant to notice, but you do.

lyndon blue is one guy who probably never partied and then left the mess for someone else to clean up. that's how you know he's a true "really good guy". that and the million billion great things he organises around perth to truly fertilise our music and art community. the reason i told you about ziggy is this: ziggy is four and in the car i told them the reason i wanted him as a drummer: "no adult can play like that". it's a thing that happens as you get older to your creativity and confidence: skills increase but freedom decreases. even people who are true improvisers are bound by more sets of rules and conventions than they were when they were the age to whip their penis out in front of others and wee in the garden - not in an act of toxic performative masculinity, or lack of being kind to others while deep down knowing it's not that nice - but just without thought, only with the body's thought of "i need to wee/i will wee/i am weeing/let's drum again".

my male friends are talking about feminism more these days. i kind of wish they would do this thing, as well as talking: listen to their women friends for ages about some topic, watch them do something they're really into even if the man is bored, turn off rap if it's misogynistic even if they're just with their man friends, and clean up heaps for the women. what should women do? maybe not expect to be looked after…  

anyway, we had a great big and small people jam in the back room at nick odell's place, then an allstar jam of me, tom rogers, nick odell (CEASE), nick allbrook (Pond etc), mei saraswati (Mei Saraswati, Savoir etc). this was a most exciting free flowing jam - i was on the big organ, two stacks of notes, one big set of notes you play with your feet, certain frequencies only being bounced off the wall across the tiny room, other frequencies just coming from the normal place, once. mei was on the kit, characteristically good at that as everything - at some point tom played the broom as percussion, at some point he had a drumstick in one hand to play and a dumbell in the other to pump. anyway, this seven minutes of heaven produced an amazing piece, four on percussion, one on harmonic instrument, and at the end everyone was PUMPED, high fiving, sweating, grinning large.

but the best drumming had come from nick's 4 and 6 year olds, and like i said, it's because they're free. free from developed skill, but still with skill, free from constraints, but still with some idea of how a jam works. archer, the second smallest child, named the song he, nick and i made as "balls in the water" or "bulls in the water" depending on how you understood him, and he had a list of the four first albums we'd make.

but you see, the next night, lyndon blue proved to me in a very easy way, that "adults can play like that". we went down to watch this group, down at the new fly by night, that lyndon had put together. and he'd put it together like this: ten people all playing instruments they'd never played before, coming to do a show, following certain cues from a powerpoint presentation. eduardo cossio was on violin, hayden was on clarinet, sage - who can do meditative throat singing - on saxophone, richard ingham of mink mussel creek on trombone, tom on some percussive, melodic stringed instrument from vietnam that lay on the ground, some freo men whose names i forgot on keyboards, euphonium, violin (zane and… ), a girl on trumpet, robin woodward on piano accordion, jordan webber the handsome twitcher on violin too, and of course, lyndon on trumpet and powerpoint. anyway, i might have forgotten someone, but this beautiful line of people, with just two at the front, were on stage to just explore a new thing, try and play it, make a thing individually and together, in front of a small and leaning forward audience in the downstairs club.

i don't know if it was a "piece" that existed before: ten people improvise on instruments they've never played. this might be a new music theme. but lyndon's way was incredible and the whole piece they made was incredible. signs on the powerpoint, to guide the group ranged from "one note" to a diagram; a photo of a bear catching a salmon to a series of dots and dashes; "pause" to ~. the beautiful thing was watching the childish (pos word) discovery on the faces of the players, their will to explore and please, their surrendering to something they couldn't control, and also the music that was made itself. so much more interesting than hearing the same songs again where you know when the song's going to end and where it's going to go. this was EXCITING.

on the way home some guys were shredding in a loft section of the big barn that's the raw kitchen, shredding "rock" music and we peered in an up and that was kind of nice too. it showed skill, and it was cool, but the real magic was down in that club, ten beautiful strangers, strangers to their instruments and strangers to each other, making a new thing.


Amber Fresh