I Lead Three Lives: Chris Brown

While some of the questions posed by New Music Box’s Frank J.Oteri become a little too technical when it comes the details of composing and improvising, overall this is a revealing Q+A with Bay area composer Chris Brown. Affiliated with Mills College, Brown terms himself an explorer who has moved among the nuts-and-bolts (literally) of Electronic Music, created New Music scores and improvises as well. Initially a so-called classical pianist, Brown’s interest in new modes of expression led him to study the works of John Cage and Henry Cowell, and after hearing pianist Cecil Taylor, to playing in an improvised context with musicians like keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and as a member of tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman’s Double Trio. He admits he improvised in public even before he composed anything he still likes. Along the way Brown also learned to weld and solder in order to translate his idea into an electronic milieu with the band The Hub and in other contexts. Today Brown is becoming more interested in working with the song form, though that has nothing to do with the frequent telephone calls he gets at his Mills office from aspiring popsters trying to contact someone they think is actually chart-topping rapper Chris Brown.