I found a gorgeous passage on Eudemonic - a sweet little carousel of multiple cultures all bound together by the enormous talents of the Steve Kimock Band. "Bouncer" through "Elmer's Revenge" - an island CD within an oceanic CD, a singular thought within the Group Mind - rotated around the speakers and spoke to me. I was really impressed at how this sequence flowed together like sonic architecture. In this day and age of people dumping various songs into iPods, pillaging a body of work to grab two songs to create one's own mix, it is refreshing to hear a strong series of songs from one artist on one CD. Those four songs in particular told me a story - I could see what the band was building, could feel the warm, solid textures, and everything sounded right.
Steve Kimock by Greg Kessler
"THANK GOD!" replied Kimock, almost in relief.
Am I just stating the obvious?
"Well, no. It's not obvious, at all. As I said earlier - the serendipity of putting this stuff together - what works, what doesn't, and why - is not always in the artist's view. As much as I'm trying to create a certain program, I guarantee if you liked that program there was something that I wanted to stick in the middle of it that I couldn't use for some reason. The willfulness of my own approach to the thing could never create that thing specifically for you. It is so much a part of the listener's own receptivity to the music, and I'm just glad that people are able to relate to it in that way, and I'm glad that you do."
Rodney Holmes & Steve Kimock
August 23rd sees the release of Eudemonic, the long-awaited debut studio album from the Steve Kimock Band. Basic tracks were recorded live at the Music Palace in West Hempstead, New York, with Kimock and drummer Rodney Holmes producing. Overdubs were recorded at Kimock's Big Red Barn in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Kimock's late friend, Doug Greene, used the phrase Eudemonic (a take on "You Da' Mon!") to attempt to explain his unique style of playing. From the liner notes: Eudemonic: 1. Producing happiness and well-being. 2. Of or relating to a theory of ethics whose primary goal is happiness and well-being through personal enlightenment and experience.
(long pause) "It's kind of a big word," laughed Kimock.
"I'll go out of my way to not refer to myself, or guess what it is that I do, or try to explain what I do. I love to play, and if there's people that listen to it and dig it, then great. I think the whole idea of Eudemonic, you know, Eudemonic as a benevolent spirit - I think that captures a lot of the vibe of the trip I'm trying to present to people. Everybody's going to interpret it in their own way. I'm certainly not imposing it on anyone."
TONGUE N' GROOVE
Eudemonic is like some really cool late night movie with vignettes drifting through the evening air and a soundtrack written by a Master well-versed in East meets West melodic structures. No wonder the band titled one of their live CDs with that concept in mind. With a well-rounded cast of seasoned role players, the album starts off on fairly sturdy terrain. Rounding out the Steve Kimock Band is Alphonso Johnson on bass, Mitch Stein on guitar, Jim Kost on keyboards and the multi-Grammy Award winner Rodney Holmes on drums. Holmes also serves as Kimock's writing partner and rhythmic foil - especially evident when you hear the wonderfully dynamic forces at play on Eudemonic. Holmes never plays a melodic note passage alongside or supporting a piece. Instead, he wanders through the dark, gathering momentum until a song reaches an edgy climax. "One For Brother Mike" surfaces slowly and lends well to that description. The band appears to be constructing three different houses at the same time from three conflicting blueprints before melting the tangible into a fluid solitary groove. Kimock calls his brand of magic "small group improvisation." I call it "brilliant ear candy of the finest kind."
Steve Kimock Band by Greg Kessler
The whole band is very solid, but your drummer and writing partner, Rodney Holmes, seems to work out really well with you, especially on Eudemonic.
"I just love playing with Rodney," said Kimock. "He is so much fun. He is just so strongly where he is, that our concepts - while being wildly different at times - leave plenty of room for each other to co-exist. There's a huge amount of ground that gets covered conceptually, in performance and in the writing. I'm really blessed to have him as a partner."
Kimock & Holmes by Tony Stack
How did you select the studio, Music Palace, in West Hempstead, New York?
"It selected us. It wasn't like we had a giant long list of places to go and things to do. Again, all of this recording stuff, unless you're absolutely rock star-wealthy, is serendipitous. You know an engineer that works at a place, and he can get you a rate - those decisions kind of make themselves."
Why did it take so long to do a studio album?
"I think it was entirely a matter of not having the time. I'm sure when people see you out there working, they think you're kicking all kinds of butt and making all kinds of money. We're still kind of hand-to-month, so you try to stay on the road. If you don't have the money to make a record, you can't just sit around for a couple of months and try to make a record. You don't have a roof over your head at the end of the couple of months to get a record finished. It took a really long time to get things stabilized enough to get the opportunity to go into the studio with as little time as we had to try to get something together. I really wanted to make a record since the last Zero record which was in the freakin' 50s it feels like now. (laughs) I just haven't had the resources."
Steve Kimock by Greg Kessler
Kimock has been an extremely busy musician for nearly thirty years, and rarely does a musician garner his type of critical and fan respect. Deservedly so, when Kimock isn't fronting his own rotating band of players, he's collaborating with numerous musicians from various genres. However, all directions float ahead: an improv plane that allows freedom of movement without restraining its players with pre-conceived set lists.
Did you have an idea of what you wanted when you went into the studio with this current lineup?
"I think we had a pretty clear idea of what it was we were going to do," said Kimock. "I wasn't trying to leave too much stuff up to chance. The whole idea of doing the record was to get an overview of where the band was at, at that time, compositionally. The difference between the stuff I've done with the Steve Kimock Band and the stuff I've done with everyone else, I don't know, over the last twenty years is that we're really trying to have our own book, our own music, and to create a style and a vocabulary for ourselves that include some really diverse influences. It turns into an interesting bag. All the live stuff is recorded anyway, and it's extremely well-recorded and is available for download on-line at www.digitalsoundboard.net."
Kimock & Holmes by Arielle Phares
Obviously, live recordings have become a huge phenomenon over the last few decades. Has your opinion changed about immediate access to almost any show?
"No, not really. When the recordings first started showing up, I was just happy to get copies of performances just to review, to see how I was doing or how what I was doing stuck to tape. Those things are often completely different. You can feel completely horrible about a performance and then listen back and go: 'Hey - that was really cool.' (laughs) Or visa versa - be very stoked and listen back, and the tape's just kind of laying there. You need that recording to bounce off of, because when you're actually doing it, your nose is so much to the grindstone that it's hard to relate objectively. I know some artists have had terrible problems with bootleg recordings. My initial objection to live recordings, if I had any, would be: 'Oh, I don't think I played well.' So, I would prefer not to circulate that tape - this was screwed up or that was screwed up. I got over that pretty quickly. People will like the performances they like. Good tapes circulate and bad tapes don't - nobody listens to them. (laughs) People don't circulate tapes they don't like. It tends to be self-correcting. I mean, what the hell - I'm a musician. I'm not rock climbing. I'm not trying to present myself as anything I'm not, so whatever I was that night, that's what I was. I live with it, and in some fashion, sort of stand behind it. O.K. That's me."
Steve Kimock by Janice Wulf