How does music happen, and why does it happen sometimes? In June 2010, the TOT1.0 festival took place in Athens, small steps towards a greater affirmation of the small music community that has been blossoming in the hell-hole that is Greece’s capital. As part of the festival, two foreign improvisers (Ferran Fages and Grundik Kasyansky) were invited to take part in the proceedings. While we were at it, we got notice that Robin Hayward also happened to be in town during those days, for unrelated reasons. At the conclusion of the festival, Dimitra and Michalis invited Robin to their house for what turned out to be an informal trio concert with Ferran and Greek mainstay Nikos Veliotis.
As the evening got closer, less thought was given to the expected outcome and more to the feel-good spirit of the evening. Nikos arrived early, Robin climbed to the fourth floor carrying his microtonal tuba, and Ferran switched his palette to computer generated sine waves, carving out his own territory inside the inevitable drones of his fellow performers, but little planning was made beyond that. And then it happened; after a few exploratory minutes, the three musicians became one and the warmest possible tones filled the cool summer night. Remarkably structured in its spontaneity, the music was split in separate parts or steps of roughly eight minutes each, meanwhile -within these parts- the exchanges between the musicians evolved with striking beauty. The fourth part brought us back to near silence, closely anticipating every next move. The musicians finally found their resting place, and after a couple of minutes’ pause allowed the atmosphere to be filled with our applause.
Late the same night, over beers and pizza, we debated over how we could possibly present the magic of the evening to a greater audience. A first meeting between three musicians, not without its awkward moments, and then there’s always the debate on whether to present a “document” of something that took place, as it happened, or whether one should look to extract the pure music, since what happened belongs only to the memory of those that were there. In the end we stuck with the document, and though you won’t hear most of the coughs and the creaking chairs, you will still hear the performance start to finish, and maybe -if you’re lucky- you’ll be able to recreate some of the anticipation and the magic that we felt as well.
The title came about later, at the suggestion of Robin and as a paraphrase of the English expression “tables and chairs”. Regarding his choice he commented that “’tables and stairs’ is actually a play on ‘tables and chairs’ which in English you use in the context ‘you have to talk about love as if it were tables and stairs’ i.e. talk about something romantic and heartfelt in very everyday language”.