Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Tonight I'm playing with Carolyn Malachi in Annandale, VA. I'm looking forward to it. For those of you who may not live in DC, I've been playing guitar with Carolyn since about February of 2010 - well over a year now! Playing with her accounted for most of my performing last fall. She's doing big things (including a 2011 Grammy Nomination, for her song "Orion") and sounding great, and its been a pleasure to be involved.

Carolyn Malachi - Voice
Gary Prince - Guitar
Tarus Mateen - Bass
Jabari Exum - Djembe
Produced by James McKinney
Music by Regan Carver

This track is from her summer 2010 release "Lions Fires & Squares". I'm playing my Ibanez. This solo was about half composed, half pieced together in the studio - I planned what I would play for the first 8 bars of my solo, then did several takes playing that and improvising the rest, sometimes repeating similar things, sometimes not. Then, James and I listened back and picked out what we thought were the best moments from each take, which he later strung together into a complete unit.

Some years ago I probably would have felt a moral opposition to constructing a solo in this way. I used to believe quite strongly that everything possible should be played live in the studio, by the full band playing together, in one take. I still hold that, for some types of music, a live take is preferable, because there is so much more potential for energy and spontaneity. But I recognize now this it isn't a realistic way to get a good recording, and have come to accept as well that mining a set of improvisations for their best moments and putting them together isn't cheating. Why would it be? There is no cheating in music as long as it ultimately sounds good. And to get it sounding good, you do whatever necessary.

I've mellowed, and I'm very happy with how this turned out. James made that guitar sound great and really realized what I was after. Carolyn made a music video for this song as well, which you can view here. I used to dream of being in a music video when I was younger, I didn't make it in front of the camera this time, but I'm getting closer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Improv with Kate Olson, 2.21.10

Digging in the archives tonight for no particular reason: please enjoy this track, the first improvisation from the "Improvised Duets" CD release concert at BloomBars, February 21st, 2010.

Gary Prince Kate Olson 2.21.10 Improv One by Gary Prince

Gary Prince: Electric Guitar
Kate Olson: Soprano Sax

It is hard to believe this is the first music I've posted featuring Kate Olson. Kate and I have improvised together since 2006, when we met as members of the Creative Arts Orchestra at the University of Michigan, when I was an undergrad and she was getting her Master's in Improvisation. During the summer of 2008 we would improvise together almost twice a week, often joined by Matt Endahl and Tim Cohen, mostly at the Canterbury House. In many ways the dynamic we developed that summer culminated in the recording of "Improvised Duets" in May of 2009, the recording of which is a story for another time. Kate lives in Seattle now and I miss her dearly. The last time we got to play together was November of last year, also at BloomBars - the next time will hopefully be early fall, whenever I can make it out to Seattle. It can't come soon enough for me.

When we performed it live, this track began with about 2 minutes of low, extended technique noise making, clearing the air following a Djembe Khan by Jabari Exum. I decided to leave that off of this track, in the interest of keeping things listenable. I am proud of this track for the way it builds, for the space we leave at the outset, the way the instruments switch roles naturally between soloist and accompanist (at about 3:20), and the transparency of the groove. I think this track is a good example of playing that is supportive without being overly imitative: a common trap in improvised music is trying to play exactly what your partner plays all the time - this chokes the music and limits it, especially in groove playing, where it becomes too easy to get 'stuck' in a tempo, time signature, key, or feel that is no longer compelling.

I feel awkward talking about my own playing like this, like talking about things I liked in my past playing will jinx my ability to play well in the future. I hope you enjoy the track. This weekend I'm playing for the first time with Chelsey Green and the Green Project, practicing, and getting ready for my life to belong to the Levine School of Music Music and Arts Day Camp. More soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Borrow Love

Two Saturdays ago I performed at the cd release for the album "You Call That Brave", by my good friend Sarah Fridrich. I played on one track on the album, "Borrow Love". Here it is:

Sarah Fridrich: Piano/Vox
Dan Marcellus: Drums
Gary Prince: Guitar

It's funny how time goes with an album - Sarah and I first worked on this song together in the winter of 2009. It was a lot slower then, and without drums. We recorded it almost exactly a year ago, in Sarah's basement, by putting a mic on my amp and then a big blanket over both (to muffle outside sound). I'm using my Ibanez here. The solo was originally an improvisation from rehearsal. It's hard to say now, but I was thinking about having a very dark, very wide sound - very different from how I normally play. I suppose if I was better at blogging I would have put this up two weeks ago, before the concert. Ah well.

In any case, I had a great time, there was a good crowd, and Sarah sounded fantastic.

Dig the goofy picture of yours truly from soundcheck

I've given up on the whole 'looking cool' thing. Goodnight folks.