Taylor Ho Bynum

*Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Bike Tour

Day 3 – 8/30, 12:30pm, Vancouver BC

I’m in a “European-style” cafe with a slightly confused identity – the vibe is part Italian coffee bar, part British tea house, maybe some Vienna thrown in, with a French name and a menu in English and Chinese. Welcome to modern Canada.

On the trans-national tip, I had a great time playing music last night – one solo piece, several duos with the clarinetist Francois Houle (Vancouver local originally from Quebec), and a closing trio joined by Swedish saxophonist Nils Berg, in town for a residency. Francois and I toured and recorded together in his FH5+1 ensemble, but this was our first time duetting. He is a musician of frightening virtuosity, engaged and inspiring, wonderfully and stressfully invigorating as a musical conversationalist. We also share a special place in our hearts for the clarinet/cornet tandem of John Carter and Bobby Bradford, so we enjoyed paying homage to that history (though Francois destroyed me with the tempo he took Carter’s Sticks and Stones – by the next time I’ll have it under my fingers!).

The best rehearsal is always a shared meal, so it was no surprise Niles jumped right in after our dinner together (along with old friend and Vancouver Jazz Fest mastermind Ken Pickering). I’m usually suspicious of upscale “modern” Chinese joints, the real deal is usually cheaper and better, but this place was great, thoughtful and creative variations on the the tradition. And I was pre-disposed to like it; its name, Bao Bei, is the term of endearment my mother’s used for my sister and me our whole lifetime. And Francois and Nils represented – in solidarity they both biked to the gig, Francois on a snazzy ride and Niles on a used bike he bought that day for twenty bucks.

Before the gig, I had a nice interview with Nou Dadoun on Vancouver Co-op Radio, you can hear it here. And I just finished O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing, an intimate story from multiple perspectives of the torturous banality of personal tragedy – recommended for everyone except sensitive parents of teenagers, it gets inside their worst nightmare, and cuts close to the bone. (Speaking of cut close to the bone, you should see my big toe. My cuts are healing, but kids, don’t bike in flip-flops!) After getting my bike checked out post-crash by the nice dudes at The Bike Gallery, I found a little bookshop, White Dwarf, exclusively dedicated to sci-fi and fantasy. You gotta love the devoted niches. So I picked up my next read. I told them I was a fan of Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler, some of China Mieville and all of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy – basically, the weird stuff, the sci-fi equivalent of the music I play. Sensing my penchant for dystopia, they recommended Simon Morden’s Equations of Life, a book and author I know nothing about. I’m all about the unknown adventure these days.

So tonight I say farewell to Vancouver (what a beautiful, and bike-friendly, city), first with an old-school Chinese meal with my uncle, then with a trio with pianist Lisa Cay Miller and drummer Skye Brooks. And tomorrow the real biking begins, with advance scarring already in place.


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