Live Evolution, Evil Genius

From 2002 to 2003, I played in an all-improv trio alongside Mike Kirby and Bryan Jones. We called it “Live Evolution” when it was Bryan’s gig, and “Evil Genius” when it was Mike’s.

This is kind of a big deal, because I’m not comfortable in an improv setting. While we spent a good portion of our childhood improvising, it was never particularly studied. So, jazz theory and things that would normally feed this kind of group, those didn’t apply.

I have always been the type to write out solos, so to be in a trio accompanying only bass and drums is terrifying, because I don’t ever really want to be the only harmonic instrument (not counting Bryan’s six-string bass in this context, though that could be considered incorrect).

So we would play a night (three to four hours) at at Armadillo’s or downstairs at Ram’s Head in downtown Annapolis, playing in whatever key someone called out, in whatever groove someone started in, and... well, it was all improvised. If we suddenly found ourselves playing a song, so be it. We were loud. We were arrogant. We took lots of chances. And I recorded it all (using a Sony minidisc recorder and a stereo mic sitting on top of my rig – so the recording level can be a bit... hot). It didn’t always work, but it was exciting for sure.

The fact that we even got these gigs is surprising. Granted, they were usually on a Sunday night, but downtown Annapolis typically caters to your standard bar crowd. We were not the soundtrack for those people. I have no idea how it happened.

You can hear some excerpts from the Best Of collection that I culled from the archives: