Everything is a work in progress. We might imagine things have their beginning but even beginnings have beginnings, and so forth. Before Musicosophy was a band there had been many other bands and they were good bands, too. I know that axamaxa had travelled about the Southeast after college playing in a right smart number of Reggae bands (Mountain Rain, One Way, Roots and Culture). Demo tapes were made and bootlegs, too; they’re out there somewhere but we don’t know where. The early recordings (extensive as they were) became lost in a fire and the records of those early beginnings had to, in some sense, start all over again. So we have beginnings and againnings.
Axamaxa played keyboards, too for a short while. He was quite instrumental in pioneering the advancement of the Reggae Bubble, often playing cross-handed for solos. His touch, feel and dynamics were in high demand as a Reggae keyboardist. He wrote a number of Reggae songs while at the keys. Axamaxa served a short stint with the Amateurs, an established outfit from Greenville NC. (currently here and here)
He was a classically trained pianist and achieved some local honor as a youth, while studying under a prestigious pianist from the lineage of Beethoven and Bach. He studied organ under a prestigious international minister of music, who helped author and curate the new Presbyterian Hymnal (when the Presbyterian Church USA united the main factions under one umbrella). He grew up playing in the orchestras at school and while playing double-bass in public school became enrolled in the All State Orchestra and the Queens College Orchestra.
Internationally renown Czechoslovakian Composer Vaclav Nelhybel conducted the youth orchestra in which he was playing on several occasions while visiting the U.S. (humorously, threatening to cut the mustache off of one of axamaxa’s peers -a cellist- one time at practice). Nelhybel himself coached and conducted the pieces ‘moto perpetuo’ (from Concerto Grosso) and ‘music for orchestra’.
“Nelhybel was a synthesist and a superb craftsman who amalgamated the musical impulses of his time in his own expression, choosing discriminately from among existing systems and integrating them into his own concepts and methods. The most striking general characteristic of his music is its linear-modal orientation. His concern with the autonomy of melodic line leads to the second, and equally important characteristic, that of movement and pulsation, or rhythm and meter. The interplay between these dual aspects of motion and time, and their coordinated organization, results in the vigorous drive so typical of Nelhybel’s music. These elements are complemented in many of his works by the tension generated by accumulations of dissonance, the increasing of textural densities, exploding dynamics, and the massing of multi-hued sonic colors. Though frequently dissonant in texture, Nelhybel’s music always gravitates toward tonal centers, which makes it so appealing to performers and listeners alike.”
All of the training and experience with classical music had a deep influence on axamaxa’s understanding of Music, but the experience with Nelhybel in particular appears to have had a profound influence. For some reason Nelhybel was conducting the score at break-neck speed at that phase of his career, which amused and suited axamaxa, by now a budding virtuoso, in his own juniorish way. Axamaxa particularly liked the modal linear phrases which displaced the downbeat in a manner not unlike jazz synchopation. Axamaxa loved to make these lines ‘swing’, like some kind of russian be-bop or something. (He also liked to give this ‘swing treatment’ to the Bach pieces when he played the piano. Mrs. Piano frowned on this peculiarity and discouraged it in her characteristically stringent way.)