"The letters AMM stand for something, but as you probably know it's a secret
I attended Art School in Plymouth, and it was a very provincial art school, but the great thing was that the other guy in my painting group was Mike Westbrook! He was older than the rest of us and was interested in forming a jazz group, and I became involved in that. It had lots of wonderful names like Hieronymous Bosch and the Burgers or Emily Stomp: Music in a Modern Manner! (laughs) I didn't play guitar before that.
In painting school, you have to find our who you are, what is unique about you, what you have to say. You can't take a canvas and paint a Georges Braque, or a Picasso, someone else's paintings.. it's an impossibility. One of the great lessons for me was the professor pointing right into my nose saying, "Rowe, you cannot paint a Caravaggio. Only Caravaggio can paint Caravaggio." Suddenly trying to play guitar like Jim Hall seemed quite wrong.. Who am I? What do I have to say? I probably thought about that for between five and eight years, just constantly reflecting on how to do it, and, in a flash, I found the solution.
There was Eddie, Lou, me and Lawrence Sheaff, the bass player. Cardew came later.We were visual artists who also played musical instruments. We wanted to move on from what jazz was about. We were inspired by what black American musicians had done, but we found the jazz form terribly limiting. AMM was based on a philosophy whereas free jazz was based on performance of music. We knew what we wanted to do. Invent a music that would be ours - AMM music. Music that would fit into no category. We were outside the scene of improvised music. We still are. We've always been perceived as arrogant (maybe you have to be to say you're going to invent a new music), though personally I've never felt arrogant in my life.
Category: Music Quotes