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Interviews


Tuesday, July 10, 2001
C-Ville Weekly (Soko)

Close-knit Mike Sokolowski discusses playing New York with Tim Reynolds by Cripsy Duck 7/10/01

New-jazz keyboardist Michael Sokolowski and famed DMB-sideman and guitarist extraordinaire Tim Reynolds have been conspiring for well over a decade now, recording several albums together and contributing to each other's musical arsenals whenever appropriate. On June 24 the two met up at New York's Knitting Factory for a revival of Offering, their space-improv collaboration with Worth Proffitt.

Offering shows, as the recordings bear out, are meditative, sonic, musical and non-musical, absurd, eloquent, spacey and deliberate. They generally feature the trio of musicians roaming around between a mish-mash of different instruments including (but not limited to) gongs, bass drums, violins, brass, prayer bowls, pianos, cymbals, gourds, rain sticks, guitars and chimes. Needless to say, it's an experimental scene.

I caught up with Sokolowski and coerced him to spill the beans on Tim, resulting in the following brief interview, captured over a lunch buffet at Maharaja. You might find it a bit indulgent unless you are a fan of Tim and Mike (as anyone who heard Soko or TR3 in the '80's or '90's would be), but it provides a little insight into the limelight that clings so efficiently to those blessed with placement in the Coran Capshaw/Dave Matthews Red Light Management juggernaut. And also how said placement in no way translates into artistic compromise.

The Knitting Factory performance was the first "Offering" show since the CD of the same name was recorded at the Prism Coffeehouse in 1991.

DUCK: So, what was it like playing with Tim? (produces a tape recorder...)

SOKO: (seeing the tape recorder...) Oh my God.

DUCK: Don't say anything uncool, either, because I'm taping.

SOKO: It was pretty damn fun.

DUCK: Was it?

SOKO: He had the Les Paul, and a little drum machine that he used. Like a bass sequencer, tone generator thing. There were sections where he just did this really fat, acoustic bass-sounding stuff. We'd gone up... Worth and I had gone up and rehearsed alot of these sort of compositional ideas. We figured if we were doing an hour and a half set, that we'd divide it between some structures and some improvisations-- sort of like the Phil and Friends concept where they float awhile and then they get into a song structure-- but rather than actual songs, we just had some rhythmic ideas and some melodic ideas. And so we started showing it to Tim and Tim was like: (whispers hoarsly) "Are we gonna be recording this?" We said "yeah," and he said "well, fuck it. Let's just do pure improvisation." So, we pretty much did that.

We did like one melody-- one tune, "Sun Spot," off that CD, (Offering, Breezeway Records)-- but other than that it was pretty much all just going for it.

DUCK: I saw that you played some violin.

SOKO: I played a little violin. Yeah, we had the usual array of percussion instruments, etc.

DUCK: Was the place packed with Dave-heads?

SOKO: Yep. Or, once removed because they're...

TOGETHER: Tim-heads.

DUCK: Right.

SOKO: Yeah. So the interesting irony of the whole thing was that at the Knitting Factory-- which is like the one place in the world where we can go and do music like this and it would be like the normal stuff that goes on in there-- we actually had to gently present it to people who were not really fans of that kind of music; ironically: in the main space of the Knitting Factory. But they were great. And they listened. It was real quiet. They got into it. Nobody left. You know: we didn't run anybody out.

DUCK: (laughs) How many people does it hold?

SOKO: They say, standing, 400, but that would be sardine time. I guess we had a hundred some... twenty or something... at least paying--.and there might have been a few extras.

DUCK: What was the ticket price?

SOKO: Fourteen bucks. (cheap!) The cool thing was: it really is about the music there, so the soundman was killer and the sound was fantastic and that grand piano there...

DUCK: Did you have Tim's crew with you or something?

SOKO: Tim's crew just drove up on their own from D.C., for no money, just to hear it, and you know, I just figured "Oh cool, they'll be hanging out"-- because they're really nice guys, but they actually loaded all our stuff in and out and took care of us, and it was just really nice-- they're super nice guys. (Duck note: Tim Reynolds' chief "road dog" is a man whose given name-- birth certificate and everything-- is "Fluffy." Go figure.)

DUCK: Wow. That's a little scary.

SOKO: So they were just coming up and asking "can I do that for you?" "Can I carry that, do that?" "Give me your car keys." They just loaded the cars.

DUCK: (always a master of tact) Was it wierd to be so well-respected suddenly?

SOKO: (laughs) Yeah, it was really kind of strange.

DUCK: "These people really respect me, man."

SOKO: It was different.