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NEW YORK FREE QUARTET–NYFQ:   /nyfq Name of page: New YORK Free Quartet/nyfq




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ShapeShifter Lab

NYFQ at Bridge Street Cabaret

NYFQ at Bridge Street Cabaret

NYFQ at Bridge Street Cabaret

Riverside After Dark Billy Stein (g) & Michael art Moss (Bb clarinet).mov


Larry Roland/Michael Moss/Chuck Fertal-Children’s Magical Garden—Arts for Art-Sept. 24, 2016:




THE KEY by ZONE   (Michael Moss, ss; Mel Nusbaum, p; Larry Roland, b; Lou

Selmi, d. Composition by Nusbaum)

NEW YORK AND LOVE CD by Regina Ress and Michael Moss


Entanglement has been observed in many different experimental observations at close and relatively far distances. Entanglement itself has been well observed. There is no evidence for entanglement as it relates to the mind which is why I am offering this up as a thought experiment. I do not have the facilities to test these hypotheses. As a theorist all such ideas need to be based in theory with testable hypotheses. Einstein, for example, put forth theories that contradicted the theoretical structures of the era in which he lived. He offered several ways to support them and only when they were carried out did he get any support from the scientific community. That work continues into the present. I would like someone to take my ideas and try to disprove them and iff they fail then we can state that they have some validity. Then the experiments must be replicated.

Perhaps you might be interested in doing something like that. Let me know.

I am initiating a new section about my small Renaissance Jazz Orchestra, the Accidental Orchestra.  Please follow our progress.  Today I am posting the first of three segments prepared for a NewMusicUSA grant application.  They feature some of the musicians and some of the compositions entitled See Sharp or Be Flat/C# or Bb and The Old One. Enjoy.

It is not easy to form your own orchestra from scratch. I have a sense of urgency to complete this complex project. I assembled the best improvisers in New York and Philadelphia to play two extended through-composed suites that involve extensive individual and group soloing. We prepared scores and parts, rehearsed and recorded the two pieces at Systems 2, then mixed and mastered the recording with sound engineer Jon Rosenberg.


The credits of each of these musicians are long and profound. I selected people who worked together in past configurations and structured solo sections to combine previously existing groups so as to reveal what long years of creative collaboration can produce. Graphic artist and FIT Professor Karen Santry will use photographer/video editor Bernard Feinsod’s visual documentation (photography and video) to create graphics for the CD. I will work with a writer to develop liner notes and employ publicist Jim Eigo to get reviews and press for this amazing project.


I was able to keep costs low by asking for in-kind contributions from all collaborators. Musicians who typically work for upwards of $1000 apiece to rehearse and record, agreed to a $200 “downpayment” to be subsidized by future grants. I am exploring grants to help support performances and further recordings of this very large group. I wish to supplement their “base pay” to pay them an amount closer to what they are worth and ensure they will work with me in the future.


I intend to compose more for the AO but it will be difficult to record or perform without financial support. Future musical projects include adapting a poem by violinist Louisa Bieler, Can We Forget Remembering Being Born?, for SATB chorus and the Accidental Orchestra. I also wish to re-record and perform my qaballistic piece Ain Soph (Fourth Stream Records, 1978): Strings and reeds of the Accidental Orchestra will play previously overdubbed parts.

This work sample represents soloists from the string section, brass section, and the reed section. I excerpted solos from C# or Bb, a 20’ 38” piece recorded Oct. 10, 2016. The soloists in order are Jason Hwang and Rosi Hertlein (violins), Stephanie Griffin (viola), Lenny Mims (cello), Steve Swell (trombone), Ras Moshe (tenor sax), Waldron Ricks (trumpet), all New York based. Between most solos are full orchestral interludes. Soloists represent the sunny side of the street while interludes suggest dark, complex emotion, the essence of C# or Bb.


Ogijaz & his urban folk project featuring Ogijaz on bass and words, Chuck Fertal (drums), Waldron Mahdi Ricks (trumpet and flugelhorn) and Michael Moss (soprano and tenor saxes, bass clarinet, flutes)
Friday, February 25 at 7:30
Henry Winston Unity Hall, 235W23, 7 fl.. NYC
Ogijaz Larry Roland has invited me to perform Friday, Feb. 25 at the Dissident Black History Month festival and you should come on down to hear us and a whole lot of other great bands.
Larry, Waldron and drummer Chuck Fertal all play in the Accidental Orchestra in an upcoming release.  Hear us play John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
See the announcement at my FB page:

I quote:  “Strange Loops involving rules that change themselves, directly or indirectly, are at the core of intelligence (Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hofstadter, D.R., Vintage Books. 1979).”  I think I think and to find out I look upon all thinking from the Gödelian perspective of incompleteness theory which states we KNOW we do not know everything–so what do you know–nothing–and everything.  I think.  Unexpected connections natural to logic and illogic alike are reconnected or connected for the first time or connected in a meaningful symbolic manner inclusive of the inability to include everything.

We argue about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and constantly redraw the line separating artificial and intelligence.  You can hear it in the music.  Tensors hold spacetime to a gravitational mold.  Strange loops relate all territory to all non-territory repeatedly to create choral harmony when we see that all tonal and microtonal interactions relate through such interactions.

Hofstadter refers to a golden braid that is eternal and golden.  He could not be more optimistic as he defines music as logical and illogical, sometimes at the same time!  That memory is fluid becomes a proof of Strange Loops’ insistence on the relativity of synthesis, of the incompleteness of analysis.  If every memory is a composite of sensations, emotion, feeling, and so forth which can and must be rearranged if for nothing else to make room in our brain for more memories we are talking about an efficiency with a range of from poor to excellent…and beyond but never reaching perfection.

MetaHoloConsciousness might or might not be present but this does not matter if and only if the observer lifts self above experience and reflects upon it, able to include and to extricate self from the memory.  The memory reconstructs itself according to the theory of Strange Loops.  Something important becomes irrelevant and the irrelevant emerges into consciousness.  The reason to have a meta relationship with reality makes for a reason to have consciousness.

These connections need to be expanded.  I realize much of what I say in the above paragraphs make intuitive sense to me but may not connect to others  unless you share my worldview.  I apologize for my obtuseness.  There are just so many ideas and so few ways to express them in words.  Perhaps that is why music to me makes more sense than verbal expression.

I will write some more as soon as these ideas begin to gel and hopefully make more sense to you, my long-suffering reader.

I just have to say something in words. This has been a productive creative period of my life. Yes, I still use words. But for the past five months I have been on fire—Amitabha and I are both playing with fire.

It all started when I broke my leg, or to be specific, the distal end of the left femur, on my way to see FunHome with Judy and Shira, my wife and kid. It was the day after performing with the great OG—Larry Roland’s Neo Urban Folk Project with Mike Wimberley on drums and Waldron Ricks on trumpet. We were in the Arts4Art Compassion Is Justice Festival and January 5 we played a couple of hot pieces including dancer Tyshawna. So I was feeling good until I hit the pavement after tripping over a curb the next day. The radiologist at the ER got the diagnosis wrong when he provided a negative diagnosis for bone fracture. In fact I went for five days thinking nothing was wrong and could have done some serious damage if I had put any weight on that left leg. So when another doc took his own x-rays and found a “hairline fracture” and asked if I wanted to go to a nursing home to recover (we declined) I ended up needing a wheelchair and a soft, moveable cast for eight weeks. I barely left the house except to make doctor appointments and to initiate physical therapy (again). My trauma surgeon refused to operate, saying at the same time I was the only person who broke a femur he had ever seen who did NOT require surgery because my femur didn’t shatter. Question: why am I always the “interesting patient” who doesn’t comply with any of the rules?

I began zoning out at the piano and a structural chordal concept introduced itself to my fevered brain. And that was it! The changes began morphing into a piece for renaissance jazz orchestra for which I had written back in the ‘70s for my group, Free Energy which consists of a reed, brass, string and rhythm section. Only it was over 40 years later, the computer has been invented, and I’m now working with FINALE, a computer music software. It was off to the races. I decided to name the piece in honor of my broken leg: C# or Bb, See Sharp or Be Flat. The next piece to surface is in five movements which I name The Old One.

My unconscious decides to name the fantasy group I have to form to play these compositions the Accidental Orchestra (I wake up in the middle of the night with “accidental” in my mind) because firstly, tripping and falling is an accident, secondly it’s a musical pun on accidentals—sharps and flats, thirdly it is an ode to my neighbor, composer John Cage who collaborated (upstairs from my apartment at Westbeth) with choreographer Merce Cunningham who utilized chance techniques, aka, accidents, as part of his process (as did Merce when choreographing), and finally, accidents are a subset of the quantum physics concept of superposition and are chance events because they are random. Are you with me on this quadruple musical pun?

Then the fun part began—asking cats to join up. First I had to have a project so I decided to record the Orchestra at Systems II in Brooklyn where Billy Stein and I recorded our Intervals cd in 2013. I ask Jon Rosenberg, the engineer on that date, to work with me. Jon makes it all seem like it could happen and gives great advice and suggestions. Then I need people. The first to respond are Steve Swell and Jason Kao Hwang who recommend friends of theirs. Then I ask Richard Keene, Eliot Levin, and my buddies in the New York Free Quartet, Chuck Fertal, Steve Cohn, and OG—Larry Roland. Warren Smith, followed by Badal Roy, Mike Wimberley, Vincent Chancey, and Michael Lytle, then Waldron Ricks, say they’re in. Now I have a reed section, brass section, rhythm section, and bass section. But I’m going to need to fill out the string section. Joining Jason Hwang, Charles Burnham signs up as do Bob Stern and Carol Buck. I’m now down one violinist and I need a conductor (still). John Shea agrees to conduct, making a connection back to the original Free Energy and then Tomas Ulrich and Carol Buck come on board as cellists. Rosi Hertlein becomes my third violinist. And I’m done. Now the hard part—getting a rehearsal schedule from 20+ of the most successful and busy musicians in New York.

The Accidental Orchestra: string sextet–Jason Kao Hwang, John Burnham and Rosi Hertlein (v), Bob Stern (vla), Tomas Ulrich and Carol Buck (vc), Larry Roland (b), brass–Steve Swell (tb), Vincent Chancey (fh), Waldron Ricks (tpt), drummers–Warren Smith (perc), Badal Roy (tabla), Chuck Fertal (d), Michael Wimberley (djembe, perc), and reed players–Richard Keene (oboe), Elliot Levin (f), Michael Lytle (bc), Ras Moshe (ss), myself on Bb clarinet, Steve Cohn (piano), Billy Stein (guitar), conductor–John Shea.  Jon Rosenberg is the recording engineer.

All this takes place as the New York Free Quartet rehearses and records a cd at Tedesco Studio. That is a trip too. Every one of my horns (flute, my new Bb clarinet, soprano and tenor saxes, bass clarinet) go into Perry Ritter’s repair shop and come out perfect. That’s May 3, 2016. Now I’m mixing it down with John Shea who mixed the first NYFQ cd, Free Play.

So I have just (I think) finished C# or Bb. The first four movements of five of The Old One based on my readings into the Qabbala, Egyptian Book of the Dead, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead are (more or less) finished. It is entitled The Old One as an homage to my cousin, Albert Einstein, who referred to God as the old one. It has a completely different feeling from C# and is very intense. I think I’m beginning to discover how to write for strings. The process is taking me over.

I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this before, certainly not in public in a blog post. I hope you see this less as blowing my own horn and more as expiation, explanation, imagination and creation.

All this is prelude to saying something that I think about from time to time—why did I survive? Why did I become that “interesting patient?” How did I pull through getting so sick that, aside from myself, some felt I was not going to make it? Last year, in January, 2015, I got really sick with a bacterial infection, became septic, got a UTI, and went to the hospital—twice because it invaded my nerves, nervous system, and every joint I had ever injured making them so inflamed that I had inflammation arthritis—similar to getting arthritis over the years, except this went down in 48 HOURS. It caused extensive neuropathy and my hands became completely numb. I can tell you that streptococcus G is so rare no one has ever seen it before. Because I was now an “interesting patient” doctors lined up outside my hospital room to examine me three at a time. Yet I never doubted I would make it.

The struggle I have waged with the complete and total support of my wife, Judy, daughter and son Shira and Ari, friends, and the team of docs Judy and I assembled resemble the dream team of the basketball players in the Olympics. They—the most thoughtful, problem solving, and, yes, creative group—kept me alive. They supported my irrational goal which is to completely recover EVERY faculty, regain ALL my strength, and honor my desire to ski again. Music becomes my therapy—by practicing instruments I can no longer feel because of neuropathy (nerve damage) I re-teach my brain physical sensation. But what is most amazing is the obdurate will that never questions that I will, with effort, get back. Call it Spirit.

Now that I—just when I am starting to feel better—broke my leg and can’t leave the house but feel relatively healthy I start playing the piano, which sits in my living room relatively tuned and sort of ready to play. Well I take three days to tune it myself by ear, then begin composing large pieces on it and on a midi-keyboard directly into Finale.

The first piece is basically honoring my desire to never fall again, which I entitle C# or Bb—See Sharp or Be Flat. But then I begin reading Rabbi David Cooper’s book about the Qabbala, God is a Verb. This re-introduces me to a previous lifetime of intense readings into Qabbala, The Egyptian Book of the Dead and The Tibetan Book of the Dead. All of which inspires me to compose another of my Jewish pieces, which I call, after my cousin Albert Einstein’s referent to God, The Old One. Here are the names of the five movements of The Old One: I Inception/The Mind of God; II Bridge; III Tree of Life/Qabbala; IV Bardo Thödol/Tibetan Book of the Dead; V The Old One.

I am beginning to ask more cosmic questions. Will I drop dead the second the last note is written? I don’t think so but my unconscious has already named the renaissance jazz orchestra the Accidental Orchestra. How do I make it to this point if not to write more music? And is this the final religious piece I compose? Or am going to record my choral piece inspired by a poem by Louisa Strouse Boiman, Forget Being Born Remembering, written when Judy and I moved into her father’s house to help him live with respect and comfort during the last seven months of his life? I have to think I am surviving for a reason and that reason is to compose music expressing my spiritual desire to understand the depths of the human spirit.

4th Stream Records, ERG 2013

INTERVALS: Michael Moss Billy Stein Duo

Creative restructuring of our planet appeals to my fellow musicians and me more than anything I can think of. Instead of putting the arts last, the arts should come first. Our country is the most creative country on earth and we have been going down the wrong path for years. It is time we restore arts programs, build new ones, buy art materials, musical instruments, pay arts educators well, and generally take advantage of the American gusto that has built up business and Free Play cover art so that the arts become a priority. I want to return to the days when Louis Armstrong was a musical emissary to Russia, when the Dance Touring Program brought dance to small colleges throughout the US and supported them on State Department Tours. I advocate doing the same for music and dance now and it is the major reason I am applying to American Music Abroad.


I wrote a doctoral dissertation on Intuition and Creativity so I have studied creativity scientifically. Creative forces are constructive, bring people together and solve all kinds of problems. Creativity takes on cultural forms, of course, and yet there is a universality which is expressed in the folk tradition. I see this tradition as part of World Music, World Beat, and folk music. Jazz is a form of urban folk music. Beginning in the ‘70s I began searching out and playing with musicians from around the world to learn from them and to use scales and meter that catch my ear. Now I want to reestablish cultural ties that have become frayed and politicized, bring creative people to the fore, give them credit, and put them in charge of things to establish unity and purpose in the arts and to make things peaceful and harmonic.

What is Urban: city. What is Folk: artistically cultural tradition of the city. What is music: aural organized sound expression. What is Urban Folk Music: A genre of world music inclusive of art forms gestated in the creative cauldron of seething anxiety and suffering artists express when coming into collaborative work wit other urban based musicians, dancers, hiphopsters, poets, performance artists, story tellers, ad infinitum of the city.

About the suffering of artists: Artists suffering—a subgenre—is the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self or center of the universe singleton/singularity which spawns the music of our urban culture. Pain, angst, fear, sex, drugs, and espresso drive urban musicians to produce pop music, blues, rock, classical both ancient and current and especially jazz to play with ideas.

Without artists—dancers, performance artists, poets, musicians, graphic artists, painters, sculptors—there would be cultural expression restricted to the thinking, feeling, sensation Jungian functions—no intuitive, nonjudgmental creative thinking or feeling, extraverted or introverted attitudes. We as a group form a culture shared across spacetime in an archetypal collective conscious that when expressed represents our inner selves.

The subgenre of music has numerous sub sub genres nesting within and one of those, jazz, blues, and western music spikes, when musically expressed, represents our oral and aural mindful experiences which raise the abstractive and emotional aspects of the experience of the audience—live and analogue or virtual and digital.

Over the past 50 years we have played with many musicians in a plenitude of cities. Finally resting in New York City we nonetheless have cultural baggage of many cities. Going back to the source, I (Moss) more and more feel consciously the father archetype. I feel older than people around me. Up till my latest illness, I even felt young in all the facets and faces I wore. Yet plans have a way of changing with circumstance and I find myself in a more reflective mood. I spend a lot of time to myself, practicing for my return to interaction. There is a difference between process and performance wherein process produces practice and performance produces quick or slow notes. The process rather than the performance rules my existence though I am getting out.

Interestingly, when I (Moss) started playing the flute after a 3-month hiatus because I got a strep G blood infection called bacteremia that caused me to go into sepsis, my musical sensibility had reverted to a 16th/17th century preoccupation with 4ths and 5ths. I am working my way through the music until I hear once again 21st c. feelings and musical expressions, progressing into more facile note manipulation. As for performance I believe it is enough to play a note. Note/s is/are implied in the note so quantum superposition is the rule here. That is, Schrödinger’s implication that nothing is real until realized forces any improvising musician to open to the infinity of possibilities—this is the fun part.

I try not to prejudge New Age pronouncements. I wrote a dissertation on Intuition and Creativity which taught me a hypothetical deductive way to think about big questions. I try not to be judgmental in general because there are so many sides to everything and as a believer in the wealth of the unconscious and in the mysterious it is important to me to keep doors open so I can see as much as I can to think holographically, intuitively and creatively.  We know relatively nothing about the universe; Physics for me is a scientific method that helps me to analyze results of cosmic and, yes, spiritual questions.
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