WHO: Jazzy improviteers Harris Eisenstadt and Noah Phillips.
HOLD THE DRUMMER JOKES: Toronto-born percussionist Eisenstadt is a divinely chosen receptacle for mystical rhythms; Phillips is a Valley-raised guitarist bent on making guitars do things they normally don’t.
THE NAME, EH?: Canadians play lots of darts, and “I love everyone from Canada,” says Phillips.
SIX DEGREES OF DAVE GROHL: As a kid, Phillips learned his first chords from Chris Schiflet, who now plays with Foo Fighters.
THE DARTS’ MUSICAL DESTINY: Whatever glory is offered by the monastic order of improvisational devotees.
HE IS THE LORD OF THE DANCE: Eisenstadt’s played with everybody from Yusef Lateef to Les Claypool of Primus. He scores music for West African and Javanese dance. With Vinny Golia and Jeremy Drake, he’s produced musical cues for Stephen Dillane’s one-man Macbeth. And he’s led or co-led ensembles large (Ahimsa Orchestra), medium (Fight or Flight) and small (the Darts).
IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Eisenstadt’s esteemed gurus include Vinny Golia, Adam Rudolph, the CalArts music team, percussionists in Africa. Phillips looks up to G.E. Stinson, Nels Cline, USC Jazz’s Joe Diorio.
SOMETIMES A GUITAR IS NOT JUST A GUITAR: “I view both of our instruments as melodic and percussive,” says Phillips. “We both enjoy lots of distortion, because distortion is so harmonically rich.”
HOW DOES A DRUMMER (!) ACHIEVE HARMONY? Eisenstadt: “Piano, vibraphone, computer.”
SOMETIMES A SONG IS NOT A TUNE: With the Darts, you’re in for compositions, improvisations, fractured abstractions.
SAY WADADA?: Eisenstadt: “As a teacher, Wadada Leo Smith told me to chip away at a composition like it’s a rough diamond, until you find ‘the musical moment.’ Be sincere.”
WHAT IS NOISE? Phillips: “I don’t really think of any sound as noise; I’m starting to think of my aural experiences as either sound or silence.”
WHAT IS SUCCESS? Phillips: “When a total stranger approaches me after a
gig and says, ‘I don’t usually like this kind of music but…’ and then proceeds
to buy a CD.”
WHAT IS PERFECTION? Eisenstadt: “I was running/dancing/singing/drumming from the Gambia River through the streets of Serekunda for an end-of-manhood-training celebration. Must have been five miles each way, with 100 celebrants. All of a sudden we saw another group of celebrants moving toward us. The combination of different rhythms and different songs as we crossed paths was the most sublime sound I’ve ever heard.”