THE PERFECTIBLE STORY
In 1996, when Eric Rawlins and I were making our first record, after each take we would discuss whether it was worth keeping and/or did we want to do another? Over time, our verbal shorthand for a keeper take was, “it’s perfectible.” And when it came time to release the album, we decided to name our label Perfectible Recordings. The album Home By Morning, released in 1997, was PERF-01, our first release.
Since then, Perfectible Recordings has released more than a dozen full-length discs of Gans-related material, a single, an EP, and an album by Joe Burke produced by David Gans.
‘Perfectible’ is a somewhat ironic name for a record label that offers so much improvised music. “Perfection is not a core value” is something I have often said in characterizing the Grateful Dead’s musical ethos, which I have adopted as my own as well.
In April of 2020, my friend Marjorie Ingall wrote, in Tablet Magazine, of “optimalism versus perfectionism: The former strives for a given experience to be its best self, while the latter is only satisfied with the best, period. But the best is always elusive. Imperfection should be part of the experience: The quirk, the wabi-sabi, the personalization…” What she wrote about seders is also true of improvisational music.
As musician, I am capable of perfection – I can and do deliver performances that excel both technically and spiritually – but I don’t demand it of myself. And more importantly, I don’t expect my/our performances to be perfect. I craft my music carefully in the studio, but I’m not concerned with re-creating it onstage. A live performance is a real-time conversation, with everyone present participating. It’s about connecting, not perfecting.