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Trios have always been my preferred configuration in improvised music. Duet is okay, though a bit too much like sparring for my liking. With a trio the triangulation creates opportunities, multiple information, colouristic landscapes allowing fluidity. Over hill and dale so to speak. Fortune smiled in that there were two very special trios. One with violinist/violist David Prentice and bassist/cellist David Lee, the other with guitarist Arthur Bull and percussionist Richard Bannard. Sometimes all of us together as a quintet.

I’ve mentioned previously the privilege of live radio, Saturday nights at CIUT Radio (89.5FM) in the bowels of the University of Toronto, invited to perform openly ’round midnight. Perhaps Thelonious hovering. An opportunity to develop our art. This night – February 11/1989, recorded by D.B. Hawkes, a mix of text and improvised music. The text which originally appeared in my book “Imagine The Sound”, is dedicated to my father – Percy Colston Smith. The words inspired by e.e. cummings’ poetry from “XAIPE seventy-one poems” (oxford university press 1950). My photographs of Marcel and Teeny Duchamp with John Cage from “Reunion” – a performance at the Theatre of Ryerson Polytechnic, Toronto, on March 5th, 1968.

This trio with Arthur and Richard – moving sporadically in and out of solo and duet – had a wonderful feeling of space about it, nothing hurried or cluttered: no tunes, only those imagined colouristic soundscapes. That’s the closest to description really, colouristic, past the idea of collected sound, an intimate collage created from an assemblage of forms creating a new whole, privately shared between three friends mostly in agreeance.

I’ve lost touch with Richard, more’s the pity, last being together at my 75th birthday bash 2013] in Toronto. He brought a drum kit, at one point allowing Matthew, one of my grandchildren, to sit in; a right little Billy Cobham funkin’ away. “Who is giving him lessons” was the question. “No one, he’s never sat behind a drum kit before.” All God’s Children Got Rhythm! Me and Arthur have stayed together, visiting on the odd occasion, sending each other missives of one kind or another. Recently he’s sent a wonderful recording, in duet with Eric Normand [The SURRURALIST(e)S – sorta blue], and a small book of poetry from the Origami Poems Project [www.origamipoems.com] Here’s one:

I couldn’t count
how many ways the
woodpecker could
divide the beat

Proof, if proof were needed.

Littlest Paradise+





1. Littlest Paradise (9:21)

Terrors Tombstones+







2. Terrors Tombstones (4:41)

PreHuman Silence+







3. Prehuman Silence (5:54)

Goodbye Magician+





4. Goodbye Magician (3:15)

GreatGrandmother's Prayers+




5. Greatgrandmother’s Prayers (5:28)

Newer Vastness+




6. Newer Vastness (4:47)

Express Pencils+




7. Express Pencils (10:37)

End Notes
Arthur Bull: https://arthurbull.wordpress.com
Eric Normand: https://ernormand.wordpress.com
CIUT Radio: http://www.ciut.fm

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