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Carei Thomas: The Usual Topic

Here is a second selection from this year’s Keys Please to follow Todd’s little musical rattlesnake adventure. This is an improvisation by Carei Thomas, the rattlesnake’s narrator, now on piano. I thought — and he said afterward — that there was a little nod to my own funny little improvs in this one, especially in the way it starts with a very low note and a very high one … but it’s definitely a Carei thing!

Some improvs have a definite form (head-solo-head, fugue, tala) or a definitely style (Dixieland, bebop, Ghanaian drumming) … but this is one of those that’s just completely spontaneous and organic, and grew out of silence in a completely organic way — like a spring daffodil poking its head up through the jumbled twigs and dead leaves. Todd and I actually murmured to one another during the applause, “Oo! Where did that come from?” Only Carei knows, I suppose, and maybe not even him.

The Usual Topic
Carei Thomas, piano, improvisation

I took care of my girlfriend Paige’s pet parakeet Pegasus recently while her landlord did some emergency plumbing work, and Pegasus joined in one day while I was practicing the piano. It was not the standard chirping, but a complex mix of all sorts of sounds Pegasus doesn’t normally make, which followed the music quite well – louder in the loud parts and softer in the soft, somehow matching the texture and fitting into the spaces in a birdsong sort of way. It was like she was a soloing on my material — a really wonderful bit of inter-species improv.

I tried to capture it in a recording the next time I practiced, but she wasn’t as interested in the piano that time. Too bad! I did, however, manage to capture a bit of a human singer on the microphones, which I will share next time.



You have your own Michigan J. Frog. Too bad you didn’t get it on tape.

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