The De-Steadied Heart
The De-Steadied Heart is a forthcoming album featuring Milford Graves protégé Joe Westerlund on drums; former Sun Ra Arkestra member Ken Moshesh on percussion; programmer and installation artist Quran Karriem on trombone, keyboard and electronics; Vattel Cherry on Bass; and anthropologist/sound artist Jay Hammond on guitar and electronics. The process of creating the album is presented and theorized in chapter one of Hammond’s monograph (in process) entitled “Simultaneity: A Sounded Anthropology of Improvisation and Intimacy.” Broadly, the book argues that simultaneous improvised musical events – such as polyrhythm or polyphony – are vibratory phenomena with the potential to constitute or foreclose trust and intimacy across social boundaries such as race, class, gender and musical ability. “The De-Steadied Heart” starts by acknowledging the frequent lack of trust across racial boundaries in Black music communities endemic to processes of 21st century gentrification. Treating the album production process as an ethnography lab, the chapter lays out an approach for the facilitation of trust and intimacy across racial identities called “Discuss, Play, Discuss.” Beginning with a discussion structural racism in advance (“discuss”), building trust through an embodied performance practice (“play”), and then leaving space for talkback/q&a discussion after that performance (“discuss”), our aspiration is to build trust, friendship, and love in collaboration across racial boundaries within improvised musical performance. By focusing on these transitions between discussing and playing, by facilitating a space that allows for the transmission of intimacy, we seek to integrate mind and body in the work of undoing white supremacy.