Writing About The Names

A statement

The Names is a new Berlin/Amsterdam collective of creative musicians playing open, yet melodic, pieces in a Cage/Oliveros informed spectrum of improvised strategies and open-ended compositions. Giving homage to the Chicago tradition of AACM music as well as praise to progressive thinking in society, highlighting people such as Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, Audre Lorde and composers such as Anthony Braxton, Eva-Maria Houben, and George Lewis, whose names, along with the names of band members and friends, have been used as the melodic or structural impetus of each composition.

Shaped by the ideas of critical music, listening and sounding practices, and the position of the post-musical, the group combines playing musical material with reflections on public space, society, and the world of ideas at large. For now, the music revolves around the open-ended compositions and arrangements of Koen Nutters, which serve as a conduit for each member’s personal and musical expressions. Each member, as a composer in their own right, is invited to contribute material to the collective’s repertoire.

That’s easy to say…

Of course name dropping is easy; but maybe this is what it takes for a European, white, cis male with some kind of conscience to dare to even get near what used to be called Jazz music. I am aware. I am cautious to speak. But I won’t be paralyzed by guilt. I am trying to do something right through music, and through community, through society, through being socially conscious without feeling hip about it. And even if I am; I hope something good will come out of it anyway. What I’m saying is: the only way I can engage with this music, this inspiration from my teenage years, is by making it about the originators of this very material. Composing the melodies by taking their names and connecting them to our endeavors to make collective, creative music. Our band: The Names. We are not imitating, perhaps referencing, hopefully mostly being inspired to do our own thing, our own music, our own expression of unity, hope, and creativity. Reflecting on how we would like society to improve itself through our collective engagement in doing what we love to do under fair conditions and making it available for anyone who wants to hear it, in concert halls, streets, squares, squats, anywhere…

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