bassist * composer * improviser

Matt Pavolka

#25 That Night The Blind Man Dreamt That He Was Blind

Recently I was contacted by Sérgio Machado Letria of the Jose Saramago foundation regarding my compostion "That Night The Blind Man Dreamt That He Was Blind", which was recorded on "The Horns Band".  My initial assumption was that he was pissed at me for lifting a song title (and a great one at that) from Saramago's masterpiece "Blindness" but as it turns out he was just curious about my interest in this great writer and wanted to know if I'd be interested in writing a few words for their magazine.  I was more than happy to oblidge.  I've posted those (very) few words below along with a link to the April addition of Blimundia in which they appear for those of you who would prefer to read me translated into Portuguese.


The Saramago-influenced work referred to in the Allaboutjazz article is a composition of mine entitled "That Night The Blind Man Dreamt That He Was Blind", recorded on "The Horns Band" for Fresh Sound New Talent Records.  The title derives from the english translation of the final sentence of the first chapter of Saramago's "Blindness".  It is such a beautiful line, full of resonances that give it the feeling of the infinite while at the same time being quite straight-forward.  It is macabre, enigmatic, humorous, perceptive and bland all at the same time.  These qualities describe "Blindness" in general which was the second work of Saramago's I read, the first being "Death With Interruptions" which immediately endeared him to me as a writer.  There is a depth and truth in his work that only the greatest artists possess.  

 I originally wrote this piece for a performance in Lisboa for the Gravado ao vivo no 8a Festa do Jazz do São Luiz (in 2011, I believe).  Here are some clips I found on youtube from that performance, although unfortunately neither of these are of us playing my composition.  A year or so after this, upon forming "The Horns Band", I rewrote and arranged "That Night The Blind Man Dreamt That He Was Blind" for that group and it has remained a staple of our live performances since.  I've attached an MP3 of it from our debut recording.

 I did not intend this work to be a literal musical adaptation of Saramago's great novel.  It is a record of the effect Saramago's work has had on me, filtered through my conscience and naturally shaping my output and expression as a composer of music.  I didn't set the novel down and think "Aha, I must write a piece of music about this!" but rather the music developed organically in parallel to my experience of Saramago.  I often compose in this way, what I read has a great effect on me.  Also titles are very important to me and what better place to find those than great literature?


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