Now Is Forever – Douglas R. Ewart & Ignaz Schick

"During one of my early teenage trips to Strasbourg/France in an urgently needed escape from provincial Lower Bavaria and with the aim of making some money by basking in the streets of France with my saxophone I found amongst some other jewels a copy of „Jila-Save! Mon. - The Imaginary Suite“ LP by George Lewis & Douglas R. Ewart in the sales bin of a local Jazz record store. I had already seen George Lewis performing live with Bill Frisell and John Zorn as "News For Lulu", and listened to a lot to his quartet recordings with Anthony Braxton, but Douglas R. Ewart I had only heard and read about and I was eager and keen to listen to his work. Back home when putting the record on the player it was one of those desperately needed shocks: this unique mix of contemporary abstraction with AACM roots and blues on Side A and then a totally outer space electronic drone scape with some spiritual woodwinds and brass on Side B, all this in extreme instrumentation. When buying the record and from what I knew at the time I had expected some Art Ensemble of Chicago type tribal Afro-Americana, but this stunningly abstract, pure and almost naked interplay of extended brass and woodwinds, self-made instruments and electronics combined with a totally non-conformist/unfashionable and honest sound palette opened another window for me, a window that encouraged me to trust isolated/honest nakedness in music making, risking formal extremes and non-obvious collage but also the attempt to achieve musical friend-/kinship in the process.

Many years later, we are now talking times of internet and social media, not so very long ago, one of those messages randomly popped up on my screen: it is Mr. Douglas R. Ewarts birthday! After sending a few words we connected online and finally a year later and during a several months long composer residency I had in Los Angeles and thanks to the practical help of different friends (Chris Cogburn from No Idea Festival who connected me with Jesse Goin from "Crow With No Mouth“) I managed to fly to Minneapolis, rent a rehearsal studio and record for two days with this exceptional visionary, multi-instrumentalist, maker-inventor, poet, afro-logical conscience keeper and critical thinker. I still remember how I arrived with a very bad flew that I had caught on a festival in Austin/Texas right before the trip up North, but what to do, this was an one off chance not to be missed. So I tried my best to ignore the symptoms and just set-up the borrowed turntables, my sampler & Zoom H6n recorder, installed two overheard microphones for Douglas’ multi-instrument collection and after a short test recording we started the musical dialogue right away. The tracks of "Now is Forever“ were recorded exactly in the order they are presented, there are no changes, overdubs or edits. The highly critical poems narrated by Mr. Ewart anyway would have not allowed to mess around with the material or the track order. After two lovely but at the same time straining days of recording and receiving wonderful Jamaican rum recipes for treating any cold, we performed a final live-set of electro-acoustic creative music in front of a small but generous audience.

What strikes me most with this collaboration is how seemingly natural this two traditions and generations of creation (Afrological AACM aesthetics and post-2000 European Electro-Acoustic Improvisation) blend and connect. For me it was an old childhood dream to come true. After the concert along with some close friends we went for some late food and drinks, killing some time until Mr. Ewart was being so kind to drop me off at the airport ready to fly out to LA at 4:30 AM with my ears close to pop and break with unbearable pain and them needing two days to open up again after landing. For whatever reasons it took quite a while until Mr. Ewart and I got back in touch again, long after this session, but we did, and while listening to and mixing this jewel, it became clear that none of the music should be left out. One, for the delight of witnessing the development of a first time musical meeting and two, for unfolding the whole story and content of Mr. Ewart’s poetry. A narration and cultural/socio-ecological critique of our time that has even six years after it’s recording not lost any of its relevance and urgency. Pls look at and listen to „Now Is Forever" as a pan-generational and pan-cultural warning, an outcry and message from us, with which we are supporting the one and only last generation.“