“The nature of liberation is direct, simple and as natural as breathing. Many will come across it and shuffle quickly back to that which they think they can know and do. But there are those with whom the invitation will resonate … they will suddenly see and be ready to let go of all seeking, even for that which they have called enlightenment.”
— Tony Parsons, The Open Secret
Open Secret, inspired by the Tony Parsons book quoted above, is the intriguing project of keyboardist, multi-instrumentalist and composer David Sancious and percussionist, composer Will Calhoun who will be performing the first show of a tour at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 10 at the Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker Street, Woodstock.
“We’re very excited about this project…hopefully it’ll be good, and it will definitely be honest,” says Calhoun, the backbone funk fusion percussionist for Living Colour, but whose multi-cultural roots, recordings and performances go deep into jazz, African music, blues and rock and roll. “We’re both almost like spiritual brothers, our love for classical music, blues, loops, samples, roots, rock…I think we’re both just sound freaks, if you take away the notes. We’re putting all those ingredients into the show, using technology and conversations, some acoustic things, some indigenous Nigerian instruments, acoustic guitar, loops…once we can get to the different sounds it will lead its way into the tune. It’ll be sort of like walking into a paint store and picking up the colors you want and figuring it out when you get home.”
Sancious, who has toured with Gabriel, Sting, Springsteen, Clapton, Beck and more, with albums of his own that have delved into jazz and improvisatory music, says they’ve been friends for years. “We have mutual friends in New York City and have worked on mutual projects. The opportunity came up for some shows this year. I decided to restart that partnership. Years later we have more to offer in a combination musically,” says Sancious, who, in addition to his transcendent keyboard work, will play some acoustic and electric guitar, and promises that there will be a few vocal pieces in the concert. “It will be a combination of rhythms, music of which we’ve both been influenced, rock n’ roll, blues, jazz, some new electronic elements…what we come up with jointly reflects that…” He says that the two share a love of improvisation. “We had that in common as artists…in the time we were coming up, it wasn’t appreciated that its an offshoot of bicultural music, that African music became rock n roll…”
Calhoun reflected on his years living in Mali in west Africa. “I did an insane drive from Bamako, Mali, drove to Timbuktu, and did a lot of field recordings with musicians. I learned a lot from those journeys from those master musicians. I bring my 15 years of living on and off there, taking another concept of vibrations and sound and emotion.” About the upcoming tour, he says, “you don’t academically begin, [like] we’re going to play jazz or 12 bar blues; its more sound based, you create something more organic that eventually turns into a desert blues…rhythm sets the conversations. There’s a section of drum and keyboard duo, but the idea isn’t so much that — no disrespect to other projects. There’s an element of Tony Williams and Cecil Taylor in there, but we also want to look at the approach of textures, maybe the chord is enough to carry the song; looking at sound in both directions based on tonality and rhythms…”
Sancious is a Woodstocker, while Calhoun has a good deal of familiarity with the town.
“Woodstock still holds a special place in the world of art. I’m looking forward to being in this art capital. Come down and hear something different, fun, inventive, creative and free. If you’re into those kind of things, come down and hear it. It will be spiritually challenging, cleansing…”
Open Secret, made up of David Sancious and Will Calhoun, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 10 at the Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker Street, Woodstock.