The upcoming sixth anniversary of the Out of the Underground trio session (June 14, 2010) is bittersweet. On one hand, these performances with James Edmiston and Andrew Wilshusen continue to be enjoyed all over the world. As of May 16, 2010, there were 2,112 downloads of Beijing Girl through the All About Jazz website. On the other, Edmiston, the bassist on these sides, has since passed away. But his memory, and the very high professional standards that he set, live on.
In its all too brief lifespan, the trio captured an angst and immediacy not typical of groups from this region. Far removed from mainstream jazz, the music had more in common with 20th century European classical music, with direct references to the work of Bartók, Busoni, and others. Simply put, it scared the hell out of a lot of people. A local FM radio station was especially offended, and took the recording out of broadcast rotation. Which makes its current popularity both ironic and poignant.
Wilshusen, a virtuoso percussionist who now lives in Portland, Oregon, was at the group's core. At the time, Edmiston remarked that no one had driven the ensemble with greater technical skill.
What did we get out of this, as musicians? Maybe we learned to stand our ground, despite very real obstacles.
Out of the Underground continues to be streamed in its entirety at http://www.myspace.com/jamesarmstrongtrio
Wishing you all the best.