Sunday November 19th 2000
drove up to burbank saturday for a Trummerflora gig w/ Nice Jaquet and Herman Buhler (solo). Played frame 1, hubcaps, various NOD type junk. Met Emily Hay, Jeff Gauthier. Drove home for Sunday morning rehearsal (Matt Dorman grad recital). Back to LA for meet up with Emily Erani (musical and dinner) then to Jen Hopkins place. To knitting Factory meet up with TF to see Chris Cutler/Fred Frith/Tom Dimuzio. No idea what to expect. Upsilon Acrux opened, new lineup w/ two kits, short set, then Chris/Fred/Tom. Chris had five piece with no hihat, 2 cymbals, 2 mini-timbales over floor tom. Table behind floor tom w/ electronics + small drums/metals. Everything contacted miked. Digitech Echoplus/Boss Pitch Shifter/Boss Super Effects Processor/ols 16 channel tascam board + more. Small tamb w/ out jingles on table with metals placed on top. One attempt at a beat early on. Contact mics on sticks, lots of brushes. An hours worth of lfe changing music . . . the next time i saw Jen she had a Frith CD.
Since then - Henry Cow, Frith solo in Arcana, processed kit, Myles Boisen, Frith solo in Irvine, etc.


for jen

stupid thought
that the moon would answer back
my lungs filled with smoke
shivering from the cold


Nathan Hubbard interviews Nathan Hubbard about the quartet Return To One (Fall 2000)

NH: Return To One originally was a trio, if I'm not mistaken…
nh: You are mistaken. RTO was originally a sextet that was formed in high school (1992). Slowly, as band members left for college or found other interests, the band found a firm foundation as a quartet (Roger Riedlbauer/guitar, Stephane Ryder/piano, Bruce Grafrath/bass and Nathan Hubbard/drums). After Stephane left for Harvard, we survived for several years as a trio (guitar, bass, and drums). After Roger left for San Francisco, we functioned as a trio (with the addition of Lee Elderton, saxophone) with Bruce Grafrath originally playing bass, and soon after Josh Jones taking over that chair. As a sax trio we worked for several years (1996-1999) until the recent addition of Ward Baxter.
NH: What were you playing as a trio?
nh: We started out playing jazz standards. The trio was the first time I ever felt completely comfortable with two other musicians. Since I was happy with musical matters (time, feel, intonation and so forth) I felt it necessary to continue pushing our boundaries.
NH: What do you mean?
nh: In earlier versions of the band we had always experimented with extended forms, playing free, different feels and many other concepts. I felt that all these could be continued to work on as well as extending our sonic vocabulary, finding new modes of interaction and many other concepts that had come up in our playing and our studies.
NH: And you were doing this over standards?
nh: Yes. I vividly recall a spontaneous version of All The Things You Are where Josh and I dropped to half-time, then modulated up to six and finally back to atempo over the course of a chorus. Lee gave us the look of death! I also remember playing Yesterdays one night and Josh playing all sorts of harmonic anticipations and delays. These, and many others, were concepts we were experimenting with and adding to our vocabularies.
NH: Who were the influences at this time?
nh: Charles Mingus' bands with Dannie Richmond was a very big influence, the way the rhythm section would lead the way. I can also clearly remember the day I got Derek Baileys book. I immediately made Lee and Josh read it. I know that Lee grew up with Phil Woods and similar players, and at this time he was getting into Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Anthony Braxton and such. But you would really have to ask him. With Josh, I have no idea. I know he listens to everything from Jaco to Richard Davis to Jonas Hellborg to Sting. Again, you are going to have to ask him. Personally, I was still very much into Tony Williams, Paul Motion, Elvin Jones, and Jack DeJohnette but also starting to listen to more Europeans (Tony Oxley, Han Bennink, Paul Lytton) and the downtown scene (Masada, Bloodcount, Barondown, etc...).
NH: When did your compositions become a focal point?
nh: Earlier versions of the band had played several of my tunes, but the first tune I was happy with was one rainy night. The solo section for this was originally a G locrain vamp, but ended up as an open improvising territory. This opened many new playing (and compositional) concepts for us as a band. I was still writing quite a few tunes that were trying to sound like standards. Around this time I dropped that concept and really began to work on what I was hearing in my head. For a while we mixed these tunes in with standards, until about the time we released the first CD, by which time we had band books and were playing my compositions almost exclusively.
NH: What was the concept behind promises (the first RTO CD)?
nh: My great-grandmother (Stella Hubbard) was an incredible painter/artist. Around this time I had purchased a Pete LaRoca CD intitled Turkish Woman at the Bath. As you might know, the compositions on this CD were all inspired by a painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. I thought that if Pete can write a record around a painting, why can't I? So I started writing these tunes. I believe blurred image was first, but they all got done. Each composition corresponds to a painting, or in the case of promises, about my feeling surrounding the paintings. We recorded the album twice, about a year apart. With that time, I was able to revise several tunes, drop one tune, add three new tunes, and ask Ward Baxter to play on the tunes I felt needed to be quartet. I continue to write compositions based on these paintings. We have enough new material to fill two more CDs.
NH: In recent years, there has been a growing trend of painters and improvisers working together, say Tony Oxley and Alan Davies for example. How did you go about bringing the two (painting and music) together?
nh: Well, many of these collaborations you are speaking about work in a more give and take relationship. My situation was slightly different in that my great-grandmother has past away, and I am composing compositions as opposed to improvising exclusively. My thought was to bring out what I found most interesting in these paintings. Take blurred image for example. This painting is unfinished. However, what is there is a blurred landscape of a coast and several boats. So this composition uses extended harmonies and constantly changing time signatures to give a sense of blurring. parabolic flower was a structured improvisation. I was very interested in the timelessness of the painting and the proportions of the flower to the background. in her garden was a statement about the passing of time and the questions brought up by the painting- namely, are her flowers still blooming? Because the flowers are blooming in the painting. This was edited on to all is silent, which I believe answers the previous tune. Each tune has a similar story.
NH: How did Ward Baxter enter the story?
nh: Ward was a close friend of the band (he went to school with Lee and I). The three of us had played together in various ensembles, like the Spectrum Quartet and the Neo-Modern Jazz Quintet. At this time I was getting more interested in writing for two horns. It was the perfect moment.
NH: Lately, I've been noticing that your toons are getting longer, as well as the performances of these toons. Is this a direction you are consciously going in?
nh: Yes. My first thought as a bandleader is to let the musicians play how they want. I will tell them if I thing something does not work or something we can work on more. But in general, our sound is the combination of our interests and length of the compositions in a performance often reflects that. I make this point because I hear a lot of people saying that this is an academic approach we are taking or somehow that the music is forced. This music is simply four musicians growing up together and finding their own solutions instead of the solutions handed to them.
NH: This is very interesting, but you have not answered my question at all.
nh: Sorry. Yes, the compositions are getting longer. This started with silverfish (on Hopes and Dreams) and continues on through firecliffs (not yet recorded), which is a forty-five minute piece. Lately I have been writing more through-composed pieces as opposed to the conventional head-solo-head format.
NH: Some of these pieces have their roots in other place, do they not?
nh: Well, a search for truth was originally written for wind orchestra. I condensed the score down for quartet. Many of my smaller pieces for other ensembles are now being used as modular pieces in any open territory.
NH: And what about the new CD? (Hopes and Dreams)
nh: Hopes and Dreams was a chance to record a wide range of my compositions not dealing with Stella's paintings. They range from high school (solitary lines) to more recent (achieving). It was also a chance to play with pianist Rick Helzer, who was kind enough to record with us. I think this CD shows a wide array of what we have been up to - playing time, not playing time, playing changes, not playing changes, link structures, new harmonic concepts, odd times, free improvisation, changing instrumental roles, the inclusion of poetry and many other things.


nmh @ Galoka - is this a shot of Agro Trio July 2000? who knows?


Return To One recording Hopes And Dreams with Rick Helzer


Return To One "lets drink some water because our radiator is leaking" Tour - April 2000
NMH, Josh Jones in Buellton CA
Ward Baxter refilling the radiator in Thousand Oaks