Luke Gullickson Trio Crossing New Mexico with Weldon Kees & Ray Gonzalez
Every nowhere you pass through is someone else’s somewhere. In the middle of the last century, Weldon Kees drove across the continent and memorialized the trip in a poem, “Travels in North America.” He visited Santa Fe and admired the trees of Los Alamos: “We meant / To stop, but one can only see so much.”
Half a century later, the poet and El Paso native Ray Gonzalez put Kees’ ghost in the passenger seat for another road trip and another poem, “Crossing New Mexico with Weldon Kees.” Now a third iteration emerges: inspired by these two journeys, composer/pianist Luke Gullickson travels through his adopted home state in his latest trio composition, Crossing New Mexico with Weldon Kees & Ray Gonzalez.
Seeking a more complex approach to Western landscape depiction in music, Gullickson takes Aaron Copland’s wide-open chords and sets them in a New Mexico landscape that has known drought, wildfire, and the atomic bomb. That struggles with the legacies of colonialism and poverty, that skirmishes over land and water policy. In the decaying chords held in the piano, one might hear the interweaving sounds of wind in a ponderosa forest. In the contrapuntal relation of the three instruments, one might hear the difficult task of relationship—among people, and between people and place.
“Journeys are ways of marking out a distance, / Or dealing with the past, however ineffectually, / Or ways of searching for some enclosure in this space / Between the oceans…” (WK)