September 21, 2022

Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone Part 327

I contacted Anna Hepler about doing a collaborative project involving her creating art and me playing drums. Anna is a friend, mentor, brilliant artist and collaborator on previous projects.

My father played jazz drums, leading a combo.  I inherited his bare-bones drum set.

At a minimum he wore a coat and tie for gigs; for fancy events, he and his band wore tuxedoes.

Following my father’s lead, I suggested to Anna that we dress up for our art and music experience.

We had a brief planning phone call before getting together.

When I arrived at the former industrial building that houses her studio, Anna emerged on the loading dock and upon seeing each other we just burst into laughter.

I said, “If I ask my students to step out of their comfort zone, I have to do it myself!”

She replied, “Yes… but for some people stepping out of their comfort zone means using more yellow paint, not getting dressed up and doing this (entering unexplored territory).”

We decided to do one take with me as leader.  Then another take with her as leader. And then one with both of us leading.

We changed outfits for each experimentation.  I somehow thought the video camera angle of view would only capture my waist up coat and tie formality.

The first take was slightly stilted as we were like two individuals operating mostly independently.  By the second take, a synergistic, natural call and response type of thing emerged.

We hoped ultimately for cohesive improvisation. And found it.

It was a joyous experience.  We each brought our own strengths to table.

Reflecting on the collaboration, we at first discussed possible meanings and interpretations.   In the end, we wanted the performance to speak for itself.

As Anna concluded, “I want to treasure the experience as an experience.”

My dad performs at a gig:

Rod Nordell