Ghosts and Ballyhoo album
October 18, 2013 by Thomas Wictor
The Ghosts and Ballyhoo album has been released. Drummer Steven Menasche, guitarist Ron Kukan, keyboardist Jai Young Kim, and Scott Thunes have created six tracks of improvised jazz based on the book.
I know, I know: improvised jazz? You’re thinking this, right? Nope. It bears no resemblance whatsoever to that. Music like that has its place. It’s completely legitimate. I’m one of those people who believe that if you throw a raw egg against a piece of unpainted pine, let it dry, and then frame it, you can rightfully call it art.
The question then becomes, “Is it good art?”
Though I believe that some art is objectively better than other art, it’s also true that each artist has different intentions, so you can’t compare the splattered-egg art to Salvador Dali’s The Enigma of William Tell. You also can’t compare all improvised music. But you can say, “Some is good, and some is crap.”
Here, in this post, I’m not saying anybody’s improvised music is crap. I used the above link to illustrate what the Ghosts and Ballyhoo album is not. Everybody can therefore calm down. However, what I’m unequivocally saying is that Steven Menasche, Ron Kukan, Jai Young Kim, and Scott Thunes’s improvised music is very, very good.
I don’t say that because the album is based on my memoir. Steven offered to give me kill rights over the work, but I refused to even listen to it until it was finished. On my end this art project was to see what four talented musicians would create purely based on their own interpretations of words. I also told Steven to call the album whatever he wanted. He chose the title of the memoir.
At my request all proceeds of the album go to…somebody else. I have no idea who. That’s Steven’s business. Since I had nothing to do with the making of the album, it wasn’t right for me to profit from it. Musicians ought to be paid much more for their work. I urge everyone to buy the album for as much as you can afford.
Scott Thunes gave me a lengthy interview about the making of the album. You can follow the link above or read the interview here. If you want him to answer the goddamn question, go to his Facebook page and demand that he cooperate. Or not. I like my made-up answer fine.
I love this album. It’s a bloody miracle. I’m humbled beyond belief. My only regret is that Mom didn’t get to hear it. Amend that: My only regret is that I didn’t get to play it for Mom, watch her reaction, and talk to her about it. She may have already heard it. I don’t know, but I bet she has.
In 2003 I quit the music industry and cut off contact with Scott so that I wouldn’t inflict my endless failure and negativity on him anymore. If in 2003 you’d told me that in ten years I’d be friends with Scott Thunes, I’d publish my memoirs, and Scott would play on a jazz album based on my memoirs, I’d probably have beaten in your head for taunting me. But it all came true.
The moral of the story is to never, ever give up. Never assume that there’s no hope. As long as you’re above ground, anything can happen.
Artwork by Steven Menasch.
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