It Is Not I Who Seek The Young Fool

From:  The Succulence Of Abstraction (MV015)



M I C H A E L  V L A T K O V I C H


Composer / Trombonist


...Vlatkovich is the finest trombonist improvising today.    Jazz Review


A brilliant and unique voice as both trombonist and composer...    Alex Cline




Over the years Michael has enjoyed many collaboratons.


Players, poets, visual and conceptual artists, and others who listening... miss nothing... leaning through composed and free sounds and rhythms and sometimes words, who multiply accordant meaning in numberless choices... dancing toward objectives known and unknown... children playing with time, consequence and timelessness.


Here are a few of Michael's collaborators.



    Michael: Improvisation has been the strategy with her poems, but in a very deliberate way. Reading them, talking about them, rehearsing, and finally performing. I often think of Lisa as another voice in the ensemble. She listens and reacts. She has a marvelous intuitive sense about her. Intuition is a very important component of improvisation. I look forward to more collaborating.

    Lisa Gill is an arts activist and author of three books of poetry including Red as a Lotus, Mortar & Pestle, and Dark Enough. A fourth book, The Relenting, a stage play or poem scripted for two voices, is forthcoming from New Rivers Press. She frequently collaborates with artists and musicians and values the process tremendously. She is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award and received her MFA with distinction from UNM in creative nonfiction.





    Michael: I have the great pleasure of collaborating with a number of poets. I approach each of them differently. Because Dottie and I used call and response, our collaboration was the most different. I was often the sole musical voice, the one responsible for creating a language from her language, her sentiment, her concept. I of course do this with all the collaborations, however in this one it was immediate. With the others, I often compose material for a particular poem before the performance. With Dottie, it was always immediate improvisation. Now that she is gone, I very much miss our creative journey together and will always remember it with great joy.

    Dorothea Grossman

    "Call and Response is a full-blown poet-musician collaboration between Vlatkovich and Dottie Grossman. “Full-blown”, though, seems not quite the precise word for this intimate session. The structure is simple: Grossman reads a short poem, or two or three related poems, and then Vlatkovich responds on unaccompanied trombone. This only works if both parties are at their best—and they are.

    Vlatkovich gets a chance to explore the range of advanced trombone techniques and muting. No contemporary trombonist is as diligent in exploring the trombone palette. But Vlatkovich is not showing off. Instead, each solo reflects the subject and mood of the poem. Sometimes the humor is obvious, as when after two poems using geographic imagery he plays a slightly sour rendition of “America”.  Or after the poem with the line “I still find human babies menacing”, he intones a mocking bit of the Brahms lullaby. But these touches of slapstick are just a minor way in which he responds to Grossman’s words. Elsewhere he evokes insects or machinery or a column of compressed air. And on several cuts he lets loose flights of lyricism, which seem to be his most heartfelt statements. After the love poem “In the evening”, he rhapsodizes with a song built on quartal harmonies.


    That Vlatkovich is inspired by Grossman’s words is not at all surprising; she is an accomplished wordsmith. Each poem is a compact expression of whimsy and heartbreak. Some are little more than a dozen words long, yet their emotional resonance is deep.  Grossman roots the poems in the every day—two are literally transcribed from the newspaper—yet they turn unexpectedly into the surreal. In one poem she explains what seems to be her aesthetic:


    “This poem is part cartoon

    and part injection.

    I hope it has the clarity of wind chimes

    Or the bloody sparkle of broken glass.”


    Grossman delivers this with an almost offhand, conversational tone, as if the words just trip off her tongue over the breakfast table. This seeming casualness belies the care with which the words are chosen and set into the lines, and the way her enunciation does justice to the well-crafted verse.


    She never overstates her ever-present wry humor, either in recitation or on the page. A number of brief, haiku-like poems are built around the character of “Henny Youngman”. One calls for putting “Henny Youngman” back in Christmas. The final one has Henny Youngman as a kind of post-modern Wee Willy Winky going about the town  “just to make sure / we’re all watching enough TV”.  She also plays lightly with irony as on this poem:


    “The poetry of children

    is that they just got here,

    so they’re still smooth

    as river rocks.”


    She doesn’t feel the need to point out that those rocks are smooth precisely from years and years of having the river wash over them. Such are the subtleties of her verse, echoed by Vlatkovich’s vivid statements, and taken together, a rare, deeply entertaining recital."


    David Dupont, 15 December 2004,





    Anna Homler:

    ANNA HOMLER, is a vocal, visual and performance artist based in Los Angeles. She has performed and exhibited her workin venues around the world. With a sensibility that is both ancient and post-modern, Homler sings in an improvised melodic language. Her work explores alternative means of communication and the poetics of ordinary things. She creates perceptual interventions by using language as music and objects as instruments.

    Since 1982 she has collaborated in America with composer/musicians Steve Moshier, David Moss, Ethan James, Steve Roden, and Steve Peters; and in Europe, with the Voices of Kwahn, Steve Beresford, Peter Kowald, Frank Schulte, Richard Sanderson, Geert Waegeman, and Sylvia Hallett, among others.

    HOMLER has performed at well-known venues throughout the United States and Europe, including appearances at P.S. 122, the Kitchen, Dixon Place, and The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E.); Supraclub in Prague; Klarinsky in Bratislava, Slovakia; Ketty Dó in Bologna, Italy; the Stadgarten and the Loft in Köln, Germany; and the Melkweg and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She has participated in such international festivals as Sonic Disturbance at the Cleveland Public Theare; New Music America in Montreal; the Tegentonen Festival at the Paradiso in Amsterdam; Milanopoesia in Milan; Primavera Jazz Festival in Sardinia; The International Treffen Innovatier Musikerinnen in Aachen; Het Vertel Festival in Ghent, Belgium; Voices Festival in Innsbruck, Austria; Spoken Word Festival in Brussels, Belgium; Dissidentent Festival in Rotterdam, Holland; the Moers Festival in Moers, Germany;  the Festival International des Musiques Actuelle in Nancy, France; Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville, Quebec; Musik Triennale Köln, Köln, Germany; and the LMC Festival, the Purcell Room, South Bank, London.





    Michael: My longest poet collaboration has been with Chuck Britt. We started collaborating in the early '80's. In the early days we performed somewhat frequently. Due to many factors, we don't perform as often. Over the years the collaboration has become more complex. The accompaniments I create for Chuck can be difficult to perform, both because of orchestration and technical prowess needed. Many mood shifts, many tempo changes occur. I hear many possibilities in Chuck's poems. I write all styles of music to accompany the poems. Rehearsing can be a drawback as well as the size of the ensemble, but I enjoy the challenge of making my musical ideas work. I will always feel that Transvalue book 3 is the best representation of who I am and what I do. I should also state that David Crigger was extremely important in making the previous statement possible. He made that project come to life. He saw the vision and ran with it.

    Chuck Britt:  I met Mike at Cameravision Gallery on Wilshire Blvd. in LA in 1980. I was leading that organization at the time and Mike was trying to form a composer's coop and wanted to talk. We ended up producing a successful alternative jazz series at the gallery. At the end of the series I was anxious to continue collaborating with him. I didn't often share my poems but Mike's energy invites sharing so... I gave him a copy of some of my poems. Two weeks later he gave me a call to tell me he had composed music for them all and wanted to talk about doing something. For 33 years now, we have always been working on something or getting ready to do so. TRANSVALUE was born.


    We started recording in collaboration with David Crigger and produced... TRANSVALUE BOOK I in 1985, TRANSVALUE BOOK II in 1988 and TRANSVALUE BOOK III in 2007.


    TRANSVALUE has performed up and down the west coast including Canada with many amazing collaborators, (Warren Hartman, Vinny Golia, David Riddles, Lou Gonzalez, Dominic Genova, David Crigger, Mark Underwood, Glen Horiuchi, Jay Hutson, Bill Roper, George McMullin, Rich Halley, Chuck Sabatino, Chris Garcia, Ken Park, Jim Knodle, Bill Plake and Mike Turner to name a few. In 1989 Mike, Vinny Golia and I took TRANSVALUE to Germany to perform in Wiesbaden and Bremen. Along the way we incorporated multimedia elements and collaborations with many visual artists including, Aldo Panzieri, Richard Cline, Norman Kulkin, Larry Grouda and Larkin Higgins.


    Mike and I work naturally with constant focus on serving and expanding the possibilities. Nothing happens to thwart the process. Fun is always one of the products (even with somber material). Difficulty is a source of humor. Humor never avoids meaning.


    A little known writer working with someone of Mike's stature is a great experience and honor. One of the huge advantages working with Mike is the talent and collaborative ability of the musicians in every city that seek to work with him.


    These days we are focused on producing film documentation of past (focusing on the 2010 performance in Hollywood) and upcoming performances. We have always enjoyed working with arts organizations to facilitate multimedia collaborations. I know it can not last forever but the possibilities feel endless...





    Michael: I really like two part writing. I really like tuba. I really like Bill Roper. Why did it take so long to record a Cd and why haven't we recorded more?

    Bill Roper:





    Michael:  Mark Weber and I have collaborated a long time. There is no substitute for time.We have done many projects together and I think our collaborations reflect that familiarity. The subject matter is almost always the catalyst for the music. Once in a while, I will have Mark write a poem to existing music. Usually, I will compose music that enhances the story line which sets a mood, allowing Mark to read freely over this accompaniment. There are times when improvisation is present, both within a written structure or a completely free structure. In both situations, planning and discussion have taken place as to a strategy we might employ for the performance.

    Mark Weber:



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