Open Field + Burton Greene - Flower Stalk

José Miguel Pereira - double bass
João Camões - viola, mey and percussion
Burton Greene - piano, prepared piano and percussion
Marcelo dos Reis - nylon string guitar, prepared guitar and voice

1 - Rising Intensity (for Alan Silva)
2 - Angels on the Roof
3 - On the Edge
4 - Greene Hands
5 - Ancient Shit

Recorded on 7th May 2012 at Namouche Studio - Lisbon by Joaquim Monte.
Mixed and Mastered by Marcelo dos Reis.
Design and Artwork by Kátia Sá.
Executive production by Cipsela Records.
All music by João Camões, Marcelo dos Reis, José Miguel Pereira and Burton Greene.
Cipsela 2015.



Music Improvisation Evolution

During my 52 years as a professional improvising musician and even before this, I’ve seen the music go through several stages of evolution.  I started as a kid in Chicago with boogie woogie,  blues, and eventually studied and worked with bebop and what is known as mainstream jazz.  My big influence in Chicago in the 1950’s were the teachers, gigs and jam sessions with some Chicago greats like Ira Sullivan, Billy Green, Dick Marx, Nicky Hill, Horace Silver, Ahmad Jamal, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, etc.  The important thing I got out of this experience and especially from Afro American musicians was “ Keeping the form is not that important:  what IS IMPORTANT is being personal, don’t copy anybody, find your own voice!” 

I was young and nervous and would occasionally screw up the form.. the real musicians just laughed when I did that:  they always encouraged me to be personal, to find my own voice.  In those days Bud Powell and Horace Silver were big influences on me..  what they did was within the standard forms like A, A, B, A.. often 12,  24 or 32 bar tunes.  I hadn’t gotten to Thelonious Monk yet who had mastered these forms at a young age and had already transcended them with ground breaking compositions in the 50’s like Brilliant Corners, Criss Cross, and Shuffle Boil, etc. where he would write 6 or 7 bar bridges and phrases rather then the customary 8 bar phrases, and used bitonality and chromaticism which until that time was mainly in the domain of contemporary classical composers.  What Monk did essentially is to destroy the bar lines (which sometimes felt akin to “jail bars”!)  He also made it possibly to play chromatic sections and bridges like in his piece Well You Needn’t in different keys which still worked and sounded good!  The genius of Monk was that you couldn’t just imitate him.. you had to get his message and transcend standard material and forms, you had to go beyond them. 

Sure enough along came Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, Eric Dolphy and others who established free jazz as a new art form.  The group I formed with Alan Silva in New York in 1962, The Free From Improvisation Ensemble was possibly the first group to play totally improvised music from our intuition, not on or from established forms.  Not only that, the music embraced but also transcended particular idioms like jazz, folk, the classics, etc.   We also experienced the ancients through our DNA connections to them!   Spontaneous combustion music!  The “glue” in the music that held it all together was intense listening to what each member of the group was doing, and playing a lot together so we became like a family to one another.  For those who are interested in that group, most of the recordings that survived were collated in 2001 and released on the Cadence Jazz label: (CJR 1094). 

So now we cut to this time: 2014.  I still love this way of making music with capable and creative musicians with a true collective spirit.  That’s why I’m glad that a few years ago I made the connection with the Portugese free improvisation group Open Field String Trio.. We have performed several times together and then went into the Lisbon studio to make this fine recording together which you are about to hear.. It covers a lot of musical “bases”.  So please open up your ears and minds, and enjoy!

Burton Greene 

Amsterdam, May 2014

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