At the Well

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05 At the Well – The ancient meeting place, so they say.

album: INSIDE IN

05 At the Well (clarinet)

Inside In

…is a curated collection of live recordings made over the last twenty years in “the Tank” – a unique space, a living breathing metal structure that has a lot to say if you listen. It’s an empty railroad water tank, 60 ft tall and 30ft wide, sitting on a hill outside Rangely Colorado. Thanks to Bruce Odland, Michael Stanwood and others, I first experienced the place years ago. In those days we had to squirm through a port in the side to get in and experience the sound. I have never been much of a “solo” artist, but I fell in love with playing alone there, just the Tank and me.

I traveled five hours to the Tank several times with Michael Stanwood for various projects, and the common thread to these pilgrimages was the moments/hours I could spend in there by myself – late night, early morning, heat of the day, whenever there was some downtime from the collaboration at hand. And I kept going back, playing more.

Musicians revel in reverberant spaces. Cathedrals, stairwells, parking garages, Grand Canyons – we all sing better in the shower. To my knowledge, the first recorded celebration of that was by Paul Horn and his albums recorded in the Taj Mahal. I was young when they came out, and the impression has never faded. He was playing , not for an audience, but to a space.

Over twenty years time, the Tank has made more and more friends and blossomed into a one-of-a-kind destination recording and performance space. Now there is a steady rotation – an eclectic and inspired collection of sound makers from far and wide, a swirling dance of artists with one thing in common (well maybe two) – ears.

So-called musical instruments are just the trigger – you are really playing the Tank. Some rightly say “the Tank plays me”. What happens in there is much more than “playing music”. Time takes on another dimension. Normal senses of rhythm, melody and form seems to expand. Even pitch gets a twist – play a note and the Tank bends it to a different one. The experience is one of expansive sensory overload. The Tank sweeps you away.

Over the years I tried taking tunes in there, even composing with the Tank in mind (ask me about that later, maybe another album). What has emerged here is something quite different. As the pandemic locked down live music, especially for wind players, a little voice said, “Tank time, Dexter!” I cracked open the vault and began to review years of Tank expeditions. Very quickly I was attracted to the stories the Tank told me in the moment – technically, they are solo “improvisations” (no overdubs, no second takes) – but these are really duets – the Tank and me.

The Tank has it’s tone, just like any instrument or singer. Ploughing through hours of recordings was at first daunting – “It all sounds the same”. But I had time, and slowly I started to tune in. Themes and hidden gems started to emerge from the conversations. Once this album started to coalesce, I timidly shared with a few friends. One mirrored my experience, saying “once I stopped listening for something I started enjoying.” Another said, simply “Pauline Oliveros – Deep Listening” Wow, an album recorded in a cistern in Oregon – I’m not alone here! A kindred spirit – sad I never got to meet her.

So what has evolved? Unusual elevator music? It is really hard to describe. While I cannot make grand assertions, I think this elevator can access some levels of the building worth visiting.

A few have previewed this new album and everyone has their favorite tracks, but “At the Well” is a favorite for many. When I rediscovered this piece, it brought me to a well… a legendary not-so-random meeting at a public well, from ancient Christian mythology. You will find your own story …

At the Well will be for sale as a download-able single within a week or so.
You, my friendly readers, are first in line. You are invited to download as a gift – a small return for your continued interest in my musical adventures. Click on the 3 dots to the right of the player above, and choose “download”. Please note this is a “wav” file, higher fidelity than the mp3 files you will stream or download from the most common services.

Once this album is up and running on you will have the opportunity to download/listen in a variety of music-file formats. If you want to even come close to what it sounds like to be in the Tank, use wav or equivalent files.

Thanks again for your interest. Any and all feedback is most welcome.


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At the Well - track 05 from album Inside In