To heavily paraphrase an old cliché and place it within the context of Lexington’s long-running Outside the Spotlight Series, an artist’s sense of invention can often be judged by the company he keeps.
Through OTS’s 11 year run of jazz and improvised music performances, no one has epitomized that philosophy more than Tim Daisy. It has been reflected not only in the frequency of concerts the Chicago drummer has given in Lexington but through the wild variety of band performance settings he has played in.
Since subbing for an ailing Paal Nilssen Love at a show by the Free Music Ensemble at the Downtown Arts Ensemble in November 2002, Daisy has played locally in duo settings (with saxophonists Ken Vandermark and Dave Rempis), trios (Triage and the sublime Dragons 1976), various celebrated combos (the landmark Vandermark 5, the classically modernist-slanted Klang) as well as his own groups (the most recent being Vox Arcana).
As varied as all of these projects have been, they all share a common link – a group sense of collaboration. For his return performance this weekend, however, even that shared sensibility will vanish. On Sunday at Griffin’s Modern Motel, Daisy will be on his own. There will be no bandmates, no collaborators – just Daisy, a drum kit, a marimba, assorted percussive devices and a bucketful of ingenuity.
“It’s the most challenging way to improvise,” Daisy said from his Chicago home last weekend before embarking on his first-ever solo percussion tour. “One of the beauties of pure improvisation comes when you’re playing with others and bouncing ideas off of each other. Here, that’s obviously not going to happen. So I end up thinking a lot about pacing and about not rushing through ideas.
“I’ve done about four or five solo concerts in Chicago. And each time I’ve done it, I’ve felt I’m getting a little bit stronger in relation to how I base the material I play. At the first solo show I’ve ever did, which was a few years back, I went through all these ideas and thought I had been playing about 40 minutes. It had only been 10. So I’m learning to pace my ideas. In effect, it has really helped make me a much stronger improviser. Typically, when I come back into a situation and play with other people, I feel that I’ve formed some new ideas and I have some stronger vocabulary to bring into other ensembles. It’s very challenging for me but something that I really love to do.”
Don’t expect Daisy to stay out on his own for long, though. He will be back in Chicago by mid-month to celebrate the release of a new recording with bass clarinetist Jason Stein before traveling to California for a series of shows with Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack. Then in September, Daisy heads to Berlin to record with Norwegian pianist Havard Wiik and Australian bassist Clayton Thomas.
“A career is often up and down,” Daisy said. “But right now it’s up. It’s good to be working and doing things you care about.”
Tim Daisy performs at 7 p.m. July 7 at Griffin’s Modern Motel, 199 Loudon Ave. Admission is $5.