Happy Accidents

I needed some downtime.

My plan was to go to Robert and Elisabeth McKay’s studio in Red Bank, NJ for the opening of AFTERTHOUGHTS, an exhibit of the late John Kochansky’s art.

I was looking forward to soaking my brain in John’s beautiful and provocative work, not to mention eating a bunch of those stuffed mushroom thingies and drinking too much wine.

To my delight, I ran into the always radiant Ruth Wright.  Ruth and her husband Alzo are alumni of the Sun Ra Arkestra and I had the pleasure of recording in a free form ensemble with them last year.  After brushing crumbs from the corners of my mouth, I had a great time catching up with her and hinted at the possibility of getting together soon to record again.  Her smile made me hopeful.

Over the course of the evening, I kept drifting over to the guitarist playing in the corner.  It wasn’t the typical soundtrack you’d expect at a gallery opening, but then Kochansky’s pieces require something a little left of center to make them come alive.

His solo playing landed somewhere between Sonny Sharrock and Adrian Belew: spacious yet technical…raw and sweetly melodic.  I asked Bob McKay who this guy was.

“That’s Phred Morris,” he said. “P-H-R-E-D.”

He parsed the letters in Phred’s name as if the spelling somehow explained the music and the person. Oddly enough, it did.

After a quick conversation, I knew I needed to interview him. Look for an upcoming segment on Phred.  He graciously excused himself and went back to filling the room with great arcs of sound and looping arrangements.

By the time I got back to the refreshments, the stuffed mushroom thingies were all gone, but the tiny cheesy puffy things had arrived. Great art, great music, great people and great snacks.  Every night should be like this.

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