why not a 12/8 path band
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a 12/8 path because so many of the best grooves all over the planet have that triplet feel, that shuffle rhythm, that 3 against 2 in all that you do, that 4 against 3 of you in me, that both/and hemiola of individuals, couples, whole circles striding and never colliding, what elvin jones does at all tempos, the boogie-woogie,
the r & b, the bembe, the 2nd line of new orleans going to and coming back
i’ve seen hundreds of bank tellers getting down in tokyo, monkey dancing in the gutters, because of those whanging, pinging 12/8 gongs and wailing flutes

so why not a 12/8 path band

it can be done all by your own self, almost
i’ve led a garbage clean up parade with just my cornet, held high and sending notes into the sky
i’ve done demonstrations where i was the only drummer, a piercing little ghanaian bell strapped to the side of a bass drum and keeping a timbale version of guaguanco going, leaflets sticking out of my pockets and a picket sign propped into my belt behind my back because all my comrades were inside testifying at a hearing or because nobody else showed up that day

we did a lot of “cows off crack” work with just two cornets and a leafleter at supermarkets, warning people that the cows were being speeded up and pushed to produce more milk by artificial means

three people, two horns and a drummer or two drummers and a horn, vastly more interesting than one musician or a duo, more participatory discrepancies in the public domain than any scientific apparatus known could possibly measure, quite a bit of barely controlled chaos possible
in big parts of the rural balkans (greek macedonia, the former part of yugoslavia known as macedonia, bulgaria, albania, turkey) two outdoor double reeds and a bad bass drummer take care of all the processions and parties that go with rites of passage

now we’re talking five plus or minus two, critical mass, unnamed quarks, heavy mesons, the intergalactic rumba in earnest and easily transportable to any doorstep, every street corner, any mall, city hall, every picket line, because it is all unplugged always, no amps, no public address systems, no dangling wires, no power trips, no techno-codependencies

hey, the path is for 12 steppers who want to step out to the beat of that higher power, want to get off the talk shows and move on

why not a 12/8 path band

face it, we don’t know the optimum number for a 12/8 path band, but currently in buffalo we can have as many as 3 trumpets/cornets, 3 or 4 trombones, 2 or 3 alto saxes and 1 clarinet player show up at a scene with 5 + or - 3 drummers in the mix, but usually we are in pairs -- 2 trumpets/cornets, 2 trombones, 2 saxes, bass drum and snare drum, a couple of bell players

the pairing principle follows tibetan and polka praxis, 2 trumpets (or 2 violins, 2 clarinets) to get brightness and happiness into a polka ensemble, 2 of each instrument in the nyingmapa red hat buddhist ensembles to raise the maximum number of overtones heavenward, try for some tartini tones
so in recruiting for a path band look for a pair of tenor saxes to do what two trombones can do if there is a shortage of trombone players, two heads are always better than one, two pennywhistles can cut through a lot of drumming, two for brightness, penetration, textural participatory discrepancies that involve

we play a half dozen brazilian sambas
we play two or three cuban comparsas
we play a few new orleans tunes
we play kool and the gang classics
like jungle boogie and celebrate good times, com’on
we do one nation under a groove as a fanfare in the midst of jungle boogie
we play some salsa
like nunca contigo mi amor and caramelo, caramelo, caramelo
we play 12/8s like afro-blue, nostalgia in the square, jackie-ing, a threadgill thing, some ptah the el dahoud

always remember that the syrian marching band members were the first people arrested in the lawrence and lowell strikes of 1912
always remember that the syrian marching band members were the first people killed in the lawrence and lowell strikes of 1912
once upon a time there was a proletariat
once upon a time musicians were in the vanguard of it
maybe a 12/8 path band could be in the vanguard of the lumpen bourgeoisie if some of those downsized white collar folks would like to stomp some blues instead of stuffing those emotions
it’s 2000 plus, a new era, and we would prefer to jam at the center of a throbbing circle of dancers, or strut our stuff in the middle of a parade, we certainly don’t want to get too far out in front, but it may be the musicians/dancers who will keep the participatory spirit going when a lot of other organized resistances have folded

why not a 12/8 path band

what kind of gigs have we been getting
lately we paraded with kids dressed as different species down by the waterfront and a grown man disguised as a zebra mussel led the way
we paraded again with kids on halloween at a famous annual block party
we’ve played in the streets for tips
we’ve led long conga lines at ritzy wedding receptions
we wanted to play at a shell station when the ogoni activists were hanged in nigeria but couldn’t find a shell outlet in buffalo
we played at a demonstration against medicare cuts
we played for what seemed to be an all-white union demonstration out in the suburbs, workers whose jobs were being moved to a toy factory in indonesia
we’ve played at monthly green party dance-alives
we’ve gone up against the d.j.s with the powerful system and lost
we’ve gone up against the d.j.s with the powerful system and won, more people dancing with us than with the mechanized megasound
we do the labor day parade most years sitting in the back of a truck
we did juneteenth a couple of times
who is resisting? who needs a band?
if no one is resisting publicly, which potential resisters can be bolstered by dancing? whose spirits most need lifting?

why not a 12/8 path band

in fair weather we rehearse in the park for an hour or two on sunday afternoons and 5 or 6 people turning up is a big rehearsal
in foul weather it’s up in the attic and again, big turnouts are rare, but we manage to keep the faith, adding new riffs, making improvements

we try to be politically engaged, spiritually attuned, multicultural, black and white, men and women, gay and straight, but when the japanese woman on the bass drum or our gura on the guira isn’t there or the turk on trombone doesn’t show, or our salsero is sick or the African-Americans have a paying gig with their main band to do, suddenly it’s all white guys once again wondering why it’s so hard to be in solidarity across the many class/caste/gender divides

once a 12/8 path band exists in one person’s head it can spread

once one person squats and toots or puts a pulse on a drum another person may come along and want to be weekly with it
if you can get two of any horn coming regularly and getting in synch then lots more magic is possible

why not a 12/8 path band

(and why not honor the spirit of eden ahbez who wrote nature boy for nat king cole by keeping everything but God (our Gaia) and Infinity in humble lower case)

if you’d like some assistance in getting a 12/8 path band going in your watershed drop us a line at
22 wells hill rd
lakeville, ct. 06039
860 435-8120

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