Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Paul Dutton, Phil Minton

I e-mailed (poet, novelist, vocal improviser, musician) Paul Dutton awhile back on his thoughts on the differences between what I saw as his more "controlled" style of vocal performance, versus the more improvisatory, spontaneous-seeming performances of Phil Minton. (Some of my thoughts are below, on the Subhumans/Phil Minton post). He writes back:

Thanks for your e-letter, for your very thoughtful reflections on Phil’s and my performances. I never really thought about the differences that much. I think that what you’re calling control is more a matter of performance demeanour. I think I tend to be less animated than Phil, but I don’t see his greater physical motility as a lack of control. And he certainly has impeccable voice control. Phil doesn’t really do pre-structured abstract vocal pieces, as I do, though he does sing interpretive melodic songs (his duets with pianist Veryan Weston , for instance, on the recordings *Ways* and *Ways Past*, which I think I’ll go and get and listen to right now, as a matter of fact; they’ve recently done a couple more “Ways” CDs, but I don’t know the titles of those, so maybe if you search the Net for “Minton and Weston”; also of spectacular merit is their “Songs from a Prison Diary,” an oratorio). As for pure improvisation, I strive in that mode to be taken over by the music, to surrender to something beyond me; and this is something that I perceive Phil to be doing (however he might perceive it himself). And no, I don’t think that musical or literary backgrounds are determinants of the differences between our performance styles. I in fact do have extensive musical background, though not in jazz. I’ve written at length about that (along with other matters) in Bananafish 17, which I think is still in print. If you’re interested, the mail-order url is . There’s an accompanying CD, as well. If you want the issue, but can’t secure it from Bananafish itself, I have spare copies — but I’m trying to minimize the amount of packaging and mailing in my life, so please request it of me only as a last resort.

Good to hear from you. Thanks again. Take care.
All the best,Paul

(I had asked him if he minded my posting his comments on my blog, and I assume the answer was no, since he didn't mention it; if I misunderstood -- Mr. Dutton, just let me know and I'll remove it!).

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