Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Set from Mr. Frenette.

1. What brought you to music?

My mother plays the piano so I grew up with music around me at home. But when I was about 10 years old – I saw a neighborhood friend playing acoustic guitar and I knew that's what I wanted to do. I begged my parents for lessons and after about a year -- -they finally caved in.

2. Describe your role models, muses and mentors.

I am a HUGE fan of Anthony Braxton’s music…for the obsessive music collector (like myself)…you can’t get better than this guy. Labels release between six and ten CDs of his music each year…many of them are multi-disc sets. His body of work is so extensive and the breadth of the material and ideas are absolutely incredible. Add to it that he is a master musician on all of the woodwinds...It is an understatement to say that he is a giant in the history of creative improvised music.

When I was in college in the 90s – I used to come to Boston all the time to see Joe and Mat Maneri perform…whether it was Joe’s quartet or Mat’s trio…I had never heard any other groups musically “breathe” together the way they did. I still listen to their music and love it just as much as when I first heard it.

And of course…there is Joe Morris. I had also started to see Joe perform in Boston quite a bit around the same time and he really leveled the field. His approach and virtuosity on the guitar are astounding and as far as I’m concerned…set the bar extremely high for what can be done with the instrument.

3. Describe your community of colleagues and audiences.

I think that the community in Boston had kind of dried up for a while but its slowly coming alive again. When I was in college - I remember checking the Boston-Improv gig calendar and it was packed with events and people playing all over town. Things seemed to slow down as a few key players moved closer to New York. But now it seems like things are on the rise as several local performers have been organizing events and really trying to pull a scene back together here.

4. What are the important elements you apply to your personal approach to performance, repertoire and composition?

I think its hard dealing with the history and the inherent limitations of the guitar --- to find a different "way" than guitarists like Derek Bailey and Joe Morris and to also try to incorporate all of the things that I envy about techniques available to piano and wind players. Between those two guys --- both such strong individual voices -- the challenge is "what do you play that they don't already do best"?

I guess it's the same frustration for all instrumentalists. I have tried my best to develop (and continue to develop) a unique linear rhythmic signature. To me - that seems to be most unique identifier in a person's musical imprint. I'm trying to play lines that kind of expand/contract/fold into themselves. Melodically and harmonically --- I'm trying to invoke forward motion.

5. What role does teaching have in your work?

I used to teach several guitar students at a couple of music stores years ago and although I don’t have the time to teach anymore --- I think that those skills have given me some insight on how to develop my own playing and what works are far as setting goals and implementing efficient methods to achieve those goals.

6. How have changes in the economy impacted your work?

Let’s face it – no one is getting rich doing this. And even though it is part of what it’s all about in this music…it is tough to justify spending the money on even a small run of CDs --- while you may sell a few --- we all end up with a box of them in our closets. I have enough material recorded and would like to put out another record --- and I know career-wise that I have to put another one out…it’s just hard to drop the money on it during these uncertain economic times. And are the consumers going to buy during this time period? Considering how many artists are also trying to sell their music too --- there doesn’t seem to be enough buyers out there to sustain all of us. Right now I’m trying to figure out a way to wade thru the endless assault of music available on the web and deliver it to the people who are really listening to this stuff.

7. If you perform beyond your region or overseas, how has that changed over time?

I perform in NYC a few times a year and while I really enjoy it and understand that travel is a necessary evil in the music business - I’m currently less inclined to take the ride as often when the expenses greatly outweigh the gains. But that should change with time as things get better (hopefully!!!).

8. How has technology and changes in the way music circulates impacted your work?

I’m also a freelance recording engineer and this is an amazing time to be working with the current digital recording technology. I have been able to work on several of my own projects at nowhere near the expense it would have been running through the classic regular studio channels. And I’ve been able to help other artists out with their recording/mastering projects too. It really is a great time for the independent artist as it is really easy to make your music available…the tough part is that there is so much music out there…do people have the time to listen to all of it?

9. Describe tour current and potential future projects and collaborations along with things you would like to do.

I have a couple of projects going on right now that I’m pretty excited about. I hope to continue to develop my current quartet. The core group has been performing together for about a year now and we have been making some really interesting music. James Rohr (the pianist in the quartet) and I have worked together quite a bit this year…he is an amazing player and a perfect fit for where I want to go with my music. We are planning to record a duo session later this year. I’m also a member of Forbes Graham’s Wild May quartet – I’m really looking forward to working more with this group. Forbes has written some really forward-thinking music for this ensemble. We’ve already done a couple of great gigs together – the other guys in the group are all so talented and I think that we can continue to do some really amazing stuff.

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