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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stuart Dempster's 75th birthday party, August 19, 2011

Whenever someone asks me to prepare food for an event, i am honored! Food is an essential part of any gathering and the quality of the food will have a tremendous impact on any occassion. This time, i am particularly honored as the request came from a musician who i hold in the highest regard, Stuart Dempster!
I first heard a recording of Stuart Dempster's in College, a solo trombone performance inside a very reverberant space. The sound of Stuart's horn is so crystal and clear, the control is so far beyond what i had heard on this instrument before. And he was playing the room! Literally, the room was part of the composition/improvisation/performance as the reverb was lasting several seconds. At the time i was messing around with tape loop and reverb machines and here was someone doing this in real time with only a horn and some incredible architecture.
Several years later, my good friend Matthew Sperry moved to Seattle where he met and sometimes collaborated with Stuart Dempster. Stuart had been teaching at the U. Washington school of Music since the late 1960's and was a major part of the new music and improvisational music scene in that town. At the same time, another close friend Dana Reason moved to California and began studying with Pauline Oliveros (who was an old friend and College classmate of Stuart's). Through these friends i started to meet Stuart and Pauline and eventually became friends and collaborators with them.
When i first met Stuart, i was struck by how warm, kind and friendly he was! Besides being, perhaps, the greatest trombone player of his generation, he had a childlike playfulness that was immediately welcoming.
A few months ago, Stuart called me and asked if i could cook for a small gathering of old friends of his while he would be visiting the bay area in August, celebrating his 75th and his wife of many decades, Renko, 70th birthdays. The gathering of his friends would of course also include many other renowned musicians and artists who i know and admire, making this a truly enjoyable and for me, important evening.
Stuart's influence on me and countless other wind players is immense. His approach to sound, the way he examines every nuance of timbral possibilities of his instrument, the extension of possibilities of what the instrument can produce and of course, just the gorgeous results that enrapture your ear and inner being while he is performing. So i need to come up with 5 special courses in gratitude to a brilliant musician/teacher/mentor and very fine human being whose career and life has contributed and generously shared so much with so many.

endive cups stuffed with beet nut pate and red lentil pate

roasted corn puree served chilled with red shiso pesto

heirloom beans with fennel and mizuna and umeboshi-sesame dressing

small plate
tofu/corn/snowpea wrapped in yuba with blueberry wasabi sauce
(tofu marinated in shaoshing, mirin, tamari, ginger, homemade sichuan chili oil, garlic, oolong tea then smoked with cherry wood and ooolong tea leaves.. Snow peas steamed. Corn roasted whole and then sliced off in sheets. yuba freshly made locally by Hodo.)  fresh blueberries and fresh wasabi root to dip, served with
daikon pickled in shoyu and kombu
lotus root pickled in homemade sichuan chili oil
cucumber pickled with yuzu

eggplant rollatini (roasted eggplant slices, stuffed with homemade almond "ricotta", baked in tomato sauce)
sauteed brocollini with olive, capers
homemade fettucini

peach walnut tart (peaches, halved, coated with sea salt and palm sugar and star anise placed in each half then roasted and placed in a crust made of walnuts, dates and vanilla)
roasted corn sorbet
blueberry port sauce

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