A Break on the Way to Breaking Records
It was the summer of 2003 and Willie Oteri had recently moved to Italy. The musician had found the perfect local haunt, a place called Banale, with a beautiful outdoor club for the summer and an indoor venue that kept busy in the winter. Willie Oteri and Sue Short (a brilliant photographer who is married to Willie Oteri) were enjoying the Italian atmosphere outside, speaking in English with friends. A gentlemen who had been eavesdropping on their language greeted them from the next table, asking where they were from. This was Chris Boulet—another avant garde adventurous musician like Willie Oteri and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between two audio visionaries.
Oteri told Boulet about Spiral Out, his most recent album. Boulet was thrilled to meet and hear about an album featuring one of his heroes, Mike Keneally, who worked with Oteri on Spiral Out along with Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin. Boulet owned the wonderful little Pizza Volante, a takeout shop in Padova and invited Oteri to meet there in a couple days. They departed with the excitement of great inspiration and serendipitous luck.
But two days later, when Oteri discovered Boulet’s Pizza Volante, he learned the sad news that Boulet had been in a terrible accident. Boulet rode a motor scooter and the accident had broken his collar bone. It would be some time before he could work again, and months before he could play guitar. Boulet was staying with his girlfriend while he recovered and that’s where they met again, and got right back into an inspiring flow despite the new predicament.
Boulet shared his recording, ‘Monkey With a Thumb’. Oteri loved it. It was made by piecing together tracks recorded from live jam sessions. Boulet could jam like a devout monk could meditate. Soon Oteri was listening with enthusiasm as Boulet shared plans to do more of these long and dedicated jams that were later known as Super Sessions titled after the number of hours they lasted.
A year later the two were back at the Banale for ’14’. This time they met at the indoor venue to embark on fourteen hours of live music that would be discovered and heard for the first time and that could, quite possibly, never be repeated. It wasn’t long before Boulet and Oteri had more plans for gigs together throughout the Veneto region.
After Oteri participated with Boulet in another 14 hour super session, Boulet decided to break the record. The next Super Session earned the title ’33 1/3’! That’s thirty three hours and twenty minutes but you can also think of it as an entire day, non-stop, and another nine hours and twenty minutes on top of that, or 2,000 minutes. It didn’t stop there either. Tony Levin came as a special guest to the first ’45’ and Pat Mastelotto was a special guest at ’45’ in 2005. Both Super Sessions were hosted at Factory 04 in Padova.
After those many beautiful days Oteri found himself touring Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, and Slovakia. He says they had plans to land the title ’78’. Oteri moved back to the United States in 2007 and still finds a way back to Italy and Boulet at least once a year. With so many advancements in the convenience of technology perhaps we’ll all be able to hear 78 when it comes together.
Willie is still asking his fellow musicians, “Anybody got any crazy ideas?”