Saturday, July 18, 2015


I'm generally superstitious about announcing events before they come to pass, but now seems like the right time to mention that on Monday, July 20, I'll be starting a new full-time job as a senior editor at I'm thrilled and grateful for the opportunity.

I leave behind a dream job (a series of them, really) at Time Out New York, a publication where I spent 10 great years. I'm tempted to shout out all my TONY friends and former colleagues, who helped make the past decade of my working life exceedingly rewarding, challenging and fun, but I'm worried I'll leave out a crucial name or two.

Best just to say a heartfelt thanks to all those folks, as well as everyone else I've worked with during this time: publicists, bookers, artists and just about anyone who devotes their life to the business of music in NYC. It's been wonderful collaborating with you, and even though my new job will have more of a national focus, I look forward to furthering those relationships as time goes on.

I'll still be checking out as much music as possible, live and recorded, and covering it whenever and however I can—including, as always, on DFSBP. Once I'm settled in, I'll post my new work e-mail address for anyone who might want to get in touch. Please feel to get in touch via e-mail: hank [dot] shteamer [at] rollingstone [dot] com.


With help from my partners at Northern Spy and Aqualamb, I'm hard at work on my Kickstarter-funded dream project, the craw box set. I'll post any major updates concerning the release here, but you can also keep tabs on all craw-related matters via Facebook.


My own band STATS, in which I play drums and share vocal and composition duties with my dear friends Tony Gedrich (bass) and Joe Petrucelli (guitar), will release a new LP, Mercy—our debut full-length—via New Atlantis Records on August 8, 2015. Go here for more info; stream a track here; and stream a different track and read an interview here. If you listen, please listen loud.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The moment knows: Poo and Paul

Thomas Haley: You said you're much better now than you've ever been, and you're getting better… 
Masabumi Kikuchi: Because I'm free. 
TH: What do you mean? 
MK: Free. Freedom of choice. I can go anywhere, because I start believing in myself.
 —"Out of Bounds: A portrait of Masabumi Kikuchi"
Ethan Iverson:  Seems to me that you [and Paul Motian] share something about space.
MK:  Yeah. Yeah…space to give opponent.
EI:  Opponent! [Laughs]
MK:  Yeah, opponent! Opponent? Is that how you say it?
EI:  Yeah that's right. Collaborator and opponent.
"Interview with Masabumi Kikuchi"
MK: “Just floating. Floating sound and harmony. No songs.”
"Floating in Time, Hiding in Sight"
It is a great regret of mine that I never saw Masabumi "Poo" Kikuchi perform with Paul Motian, by all accounts his musical soulmate. I did see Poo play a short solo tribute to his departed friend and longtime collaborator, and I'll never forget it. There's a sizable body of Poo/Paul work on record, and I've only scratched the surface: Sunrise, plus a couple of the Tethered Moon and Trio 2000 discs.

Having heard the sad news of Poo's death, I put on the 2004 Tethered Moon album Experiencing Tosca last night.

"Prologue," a Poo solo feature, is unreasonably gorgeous. Light and warmth and an angelic touch. "Part I," by contrast, is craggy, even forbidding. As with the sessions documented in the excellent short documentary "Out of Bounds," linked above, there's a sense that in playing this album, the listener is stumbling into a private rite. That though the music may at times sound rapturous, it is fundamentally insular, a fulfillment of the players' personal missions, individual and collective. If the Motian/Frisell/Lovano trio embodies a giving, generous spirit—I'm generalizing, of course; like most Paul Motian endeavors, that trio embodies all things—Tethered Moon aims at something thornier, harder to grasp. The way the trio vacillates between beauty and its opposite, between something that might be called swing and total fracture, seems almost reckless. Not wanton or destructive, just stubborn in its freedom of choice. That's the spirit of the best Paul Motian music, and Poo was clearly dialed into it.

To some, Poo was simply that eccentric pianist who growled strangely as he played; to Motian, he was some kind of seer. They got each other, and that rapport practically sweats from the speakers when you listen to them play together. Poo and Paul: letting go; obeying instinct, both their own and that of each musical event. Songs or no songs. Floating or earthbound. Spacious or dense. Only the moment knows. Separately and together, they will be missed.