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Does being a painter give you a different perspective on writing music than a musician who isn't involved with the visual arts?

Maybe, I think so. Most musicians are visually illiterate and many visual artists are tone deaf, or at least have small ears. Any person working in one medium whether it is music, painting, dance, poetry or whatever, could only benefit if they learn about the other modes of expression. Then one can see how it is all related with a broader perspective on the creative process.

Did you resume performing as well?

Yes. Eventually I joined The Bastard Children of Bozo, a new music ensemble that emphasized improvisation.

How did you get involved with The Bastard Children of Bozo?

I was at a party in a painter/friend's loft in Chelsea where I lived at the time. We had a show together in Philadelphia and he was celebrating by getting very drunk. One of his friends was sitting alone in the corner eating candy corn; this was just before Halloween of 1997. He called himself Jimbo and claimed to be a distant relative of Bozo the Clown, you know the famous clown from 1960s TV. I thought he was just drunk. He said he was a piano player and directed a small orchestra in Greenwich. We talked a while and he invited me to a rehearsal.

So that's why the clown getups.


The PTSCO french horns on a 'bad hair' day
The PTSCO french horns on a 'bad hair' day

Did you play an instrument with The Bastard Children of Bozo?

Sometimes I would play percussion, but most of the time my function was writing charts for the group and trying to gather everyone up for rehearsals.

Tell me more about Jimbo and some of the other members.

Jimbo was a manic-depressive who was in and out of institutions. He had a drug problem and could out drink anyone I ever met, but he was an incredible pianist. He could imitate many people: Jarrett, Corea, Tyner, Taylor, Errol Gardner, Monk; but he wasn't very good at managing people, much less a band. The other members were patients from the neighborhood drug clinic, ex-convicts, professional and non-professional musicians. Personnel were constantly changing.

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Copyright © 26 September 2003 D C Ruiz, USA


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