Chronicles #5: In The Waking Hour

 The people that know me, know that I have a particular fondness for improvisation. I find improvising to be the ultimate form of musical expression. It’s often like walking a musical tightrope, where anything can happen, including falling off. But it’s that sense of danger that also makes it appealing to me. 



I also have a particular fascination for the female voice, especially singing wordless vocals. Some of my favorite recordings are female voice and percussion, like the 3 albums put out by Tamia and Pierre Favre in the 1980’s (de la quit… le jour, on the ECM label, is a particular favorite and has been a source of immeasurable inspiration these past 33 years since it was released), and the series of  duo recordings Fredy Studer released over the years. I had wanted to do something along these same lines for many years, but it all came down to finding the right people for the project.


This recording was born out of the Milwaukee Improv series, Unrehearsed MKE. I had played with Barry Paul Clark on a number of occasions (including my 1st appearance at the Unrehearsed series) and really enjoyed working with him. Besides being a fearless bass player, he also blends in electronics/loops to create a wide pallet of sounds. I had heard Joni Clare sing in various Unrehearsed sessions, but had yet to work with her. Like Barry, she also used electronics and loops. I knew this would be good.



While the 3 of us had never played together, we seemed to have the same sense of tonality and movement through space, so I proposed to Barry doing a recording together. He got a hold of Joni and then we all met at Jason Wietlispach’s recording studio one Sunday morning. I brought in my large percussion set up of gongs, bells, blocks, drums, and various noise makers. There was no plan, no ideas discussed before hand—we set up and just started playing. What you hear on this recording is 3 musicians listening and breathing together, creating music in real time. 


We cut the whole album in one session. I remember how energized I felt throughout. Joni and Barry provided such a rich backdrop for me to work with. It was exhilarating and inspiring. Sadly, we never got to play live (a tragedy) because Joni relocated to Portland. But at least we have this one document of a magical day when we created something very special.


The resulting album, In The Waking Hour, is one of my favorites and I feel that we achieved a cohesive sound that belies the fact that this was our very first time working together.


Joni Clare





Barry Paul Clark



Michael Bettine



Jason Weitlispach





~ MB


Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™ / Improvise




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