Well, I was roommates with Arthur for a couple of years.1 We lived on 12th street. I think it was between B and C, or A and B, something like that, in the same building as Allen Ginsberg.2 And so, I knew Arthur quite well. Arthur was a marvelous, marvelous musician, and I really learned quite a — I think he might have actually given me my first guitar lesson, showing me how to use a flat pick. Arthur was always interested in many different approaches to music. When I knew him, he was very interested in what we in the jazz world called 2 minor, V7-1 progressions, which for percussionists could go like, moving throughout the 12 keys. And this is — the 2-5-1 progression is something that every jazz musician learns how to play in any key, in any speed. And Arthur had just discovered those, and did this amazing piece called Instrumentals.
Back then I had no — I had had no exposure to jazz harmony, and didn’t really understand what he was doing. The way we all got our pieces performed back then, was — instead of relying on other conservatory musicians who may or may not be interested in contemporary music, was — we just all — all the composers played in each other’s groups. So, Arthur called on all his composer’s friends, friends like Jill and Peter, John Gibson, and I think Philip Glass might have played, me, this one, that one. We all traded our services when we needed to experiment with ideas. And we developed the piece that way, and finally performed it.
I was at the Kitchen and I hadn’t seen Arthur in a long time. This was in the late 70s, and I had moved out of the place by then. And he showed up to a concert, I forgot which concert it was. And I said “Oh, Arthur, great to see you. Where have you been?” And he said “Rhys, there’s this whole new thing happening. There are these places that are virtually temples of sound.” And he was talking about dance clubs. Dance clubs which had these things called subwoofers, these huge base speakers. And he had gotten into that, and I didn’t even realize it, he had a couple of hits out in the dance music scene. At the time he had a rehearsal studio in the Talking Heads building.
It was a building where Don Cherry, the Talking Heads, he had a studio there. Ernie Brooks from Modern Lovers was there. And he was driving Tina crazy, because he was working with one of those drum machines, and just for eight hours she’d hear boom, boom, boom, boom. And it was Arthur playing his drum machine, and adjusting the frequencies minutely, so it would be just so. So, he was really a composer that explored all kinds of different music.