Friday, November 20, 2015

Remembering Chris Rich

Chris Rich was the guy who started this blog. His first post was on 7/18/09. His posts concentrated on musicians like Matthew Shipp, Bill Dixon and George Russell, whom he thought deserved wider recognition and on free jazz in general. His intelligence was palpable and his profane articulateness, his ability to find the right word and put it in arresting context, was startling. No surprise that his writing was insightful, powerful and pulled no punches. 

In 2010, he invited me to post and soon after asked me to take over the blog. I tried to get him to stay, but there was a lot of fucked up troll activity and I think he just got tired of it. When Chris left the blog, he took on this troll behind the scenes, in a long-term grudge match. He chased him around the globe, trying to flush him out and get him, if not arrested, then at least banned. I think he got partial satisfaction on that.

He was a squarish, solid guy, who apparently came from what has been referred to as "good stock;" at least, he referenced ancestors who settled in Yankee redoubts around Massachusetts. He walked ungodly distances and his robust physical presence made him seem like someone who'd be around for a hundred years, but his ingestion of various substances made you suspect that his time here might be shortened.

Chris was a kind of gatekeeper/factotum/contractor at Prof. Chalfen's 186. His digs there were spartan-a mattress, some shelves of cd's and books, ashtrays and tins with pot and tobacco and his computer. He relished the nocturnal accumulation and parsing of data, putting his face inches from the computer screen and extracting information that was invisible to me and probably to you.

He tried hard to help me get a gig when I sorely needed one and hooked me up with the people at AllAboutJazz.com

He was a complicated cat and I didn't quite "get" him. I had heard him turn on people and become an enemy you didn't want and I suspected that with a bit of miscommunication, this might happen with me, so I distanced myself. I missed hanging with him, but had enough drama in my life and wanted to avoid any more.

So, I only saw him occasionally in the last few years and what I know about him during that time is limited to what someone else told me. I retain a strong vision of this very vivid person, but mine is an impressionistic view of the man. I invite readers to contribute their own stories and help flesh out the story of the sui generis Christopher Rich, who died last week.