AACM      It has been written and repeated that I was a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and that in the 1960s I “shared the stage” with AACM members. The former is just wrong. I never considered the possibility that I would have been able to join. The latter is a stretch. Although groups I was in opened for AACM groups, as far as I know I never performed with AACM members. The term “shared the stage” really means played with, not before or after. So although it would have been an honor to join the organization or just perform with some of its members, I did neither. (One fellow even wrote that I was a founder of the AACM. Thank god his editor caught that and checked with me before it ran.)

Stephen Dembski      It has been written that I am a former student of the composer Stephen Dembski. That’s wrong. I have written about him. He has conducted three of my CDs and he wrote the music for another. I would have benefited immensely by studying with him, but I haven’t had the pleasure.


by recording
by publication
by author
by concert


toiling in obscurity      Quite often articles that discuss my work mention that I have “toiled in obscurity” in Wisconsin since the 1960s. This line has been used so often that a writer recently promoted me to “has toiled in relative obscurity.” For the record, my obscure toiling has moved from Chicago, to Wisconsin, and now to Cologne, Germany.

Hugh Jarrid      The jazz journalist Hugh Jarrid really has it out for me. He reviews almost everything I record and claims to publish it in a rag called Swingin’ Thing Magazine. I have my doubts about whether this magazine even exists. I haven’t been able to find a copy anywhere and last time I googled it, they didn’t even have a web site up. For some reason he emails these reviews to me for fact checking, although I don’t know if he has ever incorporated a single correction. I suspect that his apparent bias has its roots in a run-in we had years ago. Back then — when I was a young musician in Chicago and he was a mediocre drummer who had to pay real players out of his own pocket just to get a sideman gig — he claimed that I stole his girlfriend. I only borrowed her for a few days, but I guess he figures he owes me one anyway. Depend on his reviews at your own risk.

microtonality      Ever since Mat Maneri and I were sidemen together on a couple of CDs I have been tagged with the same “microtonal” brush that paints him into a corner. As I understand it, Mat—unlike his father, Joe Maneri—doesn’t use a formal microtonal system. Either way, all I do is bend strings now and then to alter pitches until they sound good to me. That would place me in the same camp as most of the guitarists on Earth.

Song Songs Song      On the Delmark CD Song Songs Song, several critics have assumed that because Jeff Parker wrote the first and last tracks, he is playing the melody and I am playing the complentary part. On both songs Jeff let me play the melody.

cover of Mamet      On the Delmark CD Mamet some critics have written that the cover illustration is of me doing the dishes at my house and one wrote that I selected the photo as a protest against Delmark’s policy of requiring the leader’s photo on the cover. The location is a junk shop and I’m making sounds on a collection of metal tins. We selected a junk shop because that is where American Buffalo, which I set for the CD, takes place. I didn’t pick the shot or even see it before the CD design was complete.