by carl wilson

Guelphgate, Part III

No new news till the Jazz Festival issues its statement, assuming that's still happening. But the discussion continues to compel me. Tomorrow I might attempt some summing-up, but meanwhile strong statements continue to pop into the comments section on the first post. After the second post, I received this letter, which the writer has kindly allowed me to reprint. His impressions aren't mine, but closer than some others have been.

One bit of second-hand gossip: Sources say Parker and Drake had been hesitant to play with Namtchylak in the first place, having had difficulties with her before, and they likely will not do so again. I don't think that resolves the question, but it's worth adding to the ledger.


From: Bill Parsons
Re: Sainkho Namtchylak concert
Thu 9/16/2004 1:27 PM

I was at the Sainkho Namtchylak concert Friday night in Guelph.

The first part of the concert until the music halted I presumed to be
conceptual. I had closed my eyes and was transported to Bandung, west Java
where Qur'an mosque singers release prayers amongst the intensity of a
culture in motion. The music of Sundanese vehicles, tools, wildlife,
children's play, and conversations always in flux, though harmonious, to the
multiple, echoing, "site specific" versions of amplified and omnipresent
sung prayers. I remember John Cage's Roaratorio, where musicians and
speakers were spread throughout Convocation Hall in Toronto creating
distinct music with its own character and periodicity while John Cage
recited bits of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.

When Sainkho was told, twenty minutes into the concert, a car was waiting
for her I viewed this as theatre. The reactions of the other musicians,
William Parker and Hamid Drake, were realistic and convincing. The audience
too seemed to play along spontaneously and with believable performances.
(Reality television transformed to the "free" music concert stage.) I
maintained this perspective until the end of the show. I often view concerts
as live theatre and find it more enjoyable, especially when the audience is
a part of the show.

The rest of the show was trans-splendid, except for the last 10 minutes
where unfortunately William Parker was determined to maintain a poorly
played temple bowl while obliterating the subtle overtones Sainkho was
trying unsuccessfully to produce - both maintained their positions, each
waiting for the other to stop until they finally both gave in to end the

All three musicians were brilliant, sensitive, and delivered a first rate
show. I felt fortunate to be there to experience it. I also take my hat off
to Sainkho for having the courage to scream and vent in front of us all,
exposing herself as vulnerable, hurt, frustrated, furious, and steadfast in
her belief that people need to listen.

Bill Parsons

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, September 16 at 11:17 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (1)



Interesting to read the varied perspectives on the Namtchylak/Parker/Drake concert in Guelph. Surely it confirms an old adage (tho precisely which, I’m not sure: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ or ‘There’s one born every minute’?).

Anyway, and for what it’s worth, I too was at the concert and felt very much perplexed by what I’d witnessed. Unlike those who listened from up close and managed to pick up the subtle nuances of Namtchylak’s microtonal pitch shifting, I listened – and watched – from up in the peanut gallery (late start leaving Toronto, bad traffic, good seats gone by the time I got there). So I can’t comment on Namtchylak’s employment of this particular technique in her vocal palette. But last time I checked, there were strong arguments to be made that the success of a given COLLECTIVE improvisation ultimately rested on the degree of COMMUNICATION between the players. And to my ears there was little to no communication between Namtchylak and Parker/Drake, and consequently little CREATED (a proviso: Parker/Drake valiantly tried to get things going).

Another point: Surely all who attended will agree that the first 40 minutes of the concert was largely a failure, given the massive talent on stage and the potential for something truly great. So I wonder why Parker and Drake kept playing for as long as they did when Namtchylak was not listening, not communicating, and impatiently checking her watch. What the festival organizers did – giving Namtchylak the hook – was INEXCUSABLE. But did it have to get to this point? Did Parker and Drake have any responsibility to wind things down – if only momentarily, perhaps to confer with Namtchylak and try to get on the same page – when they realized the performance was a bust? I dunno. Thoughts???

Posted by Randall on September 23, 2004 2:26 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson