in the early '80s, the long Golden Age of Music in the the San Francisco By Area was entering a long, brilliant afternoon: a languorously extended musical explosion that arose in the late fifties with Gleason, Guaraldi and Brubeck, extending through the Summer Of Love's spawning of some of America's most influential rock bands, finishing off with two decades of volcanic multi-style creativity in a spectacular land- and sea-scape. An uneasy economy glanced off day after day of golden days in the Golden State. The David Grisman Quintet strode across the land. Every jazz great from Grappelli to Bill Evans to Rashaan Kirk, still robust, visited regularly. The Terry Riley-Pandit-Pran Nath-Allaudin Mathieu era was in full swing at Mills College, Metheny still had a rock band, and musicians could still afford the rents in Oakland. The Grateful Dead and their vast retinue continued to percolate, growing a nation right under the nose of another nation, and the Whole Earth Catalogue was helping to educate a young generation of binary-code geniuses still in their early teens.
Once upon a summer in 1978, two young Bay Area musicians met in Paris, a coincidence that seems fated. He was on tour with a hotshot post-Bluegrass band. She was bumming around the Continent for the summer, busking on fiddle and living life to the fullest. Their return to the Bay Area resulted in a musical marriage of two highly individual worlds, tied together by a love of the groove. Her world easily encompassed thorny mid-century composers to the High-Life rhythms of West Africa. There was nothing that that girl could not do with a piano, a fiddle or drum. Hers was the magic touch that turned every sound to music. The boy was carving out a sound on his violin, struggling to swim in the rapid currents of a turbulent post-folk and proto-jazz music community that was battling its way to a larger harmonic and rhythmic awareness; virtuosity was the order of the day, and innovation was demanded. His ability was not that of the virtuoso, but much value lay in his inability to play anything but emotional truth on the violin. Together, they created a landscape that connected everywhere, but utterly theirs.
Windham Hill's newly empowered Executive Producer Will Ackerman heard my first release "Fiddlistics" and liked the lone, lonesome piano and violin duet on that recording. He wanted more of that feeling, and Barbara and I managed to give him that and more. Barbara's ear for odd time signatures that sound perfectly normal, her perfectly tilted melodies, and tough, joyful groove fit right in with all the surging, leaping music happening around us. I finally felt ready to sing out my own story on a fiddle borrowed from my best friend. Our total conviction about the music made everything come together for Tideline.
Darol Anger, violins and Octave Mandolin
Barbara Higbie, Piano
with Mike Marshall, mandolin on Onyame