Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Structure vs. Freedom

Funny. With all of the free improvisation I’ve done one over the past six or seven years (to the exclusion of about all other forms of music making), I’ve recently had the hankering for some structure. I don’t know where this is coming from - maybe I’m experiencing a sort of “burn out” on the totally free thing. I’m not thinking totally composed music (though I will be playing an entirely composed – and conventional – guitar part in a local symphony performance next Sunday), but working with structures that have clearly defined melodic and harmonic parameters and still allow for improvisation. I guess the definition of this is “jazz” but man, I’m no jazz musician. I like the idea of jazz (and my record and CD collection is 90% “jazz” of one sort or another) but I just haven’t paid the jazz dues like all the other cats. I haven’t spent fifteen or twenty years working on my bebop chops. I don’t own the Charlie Parker Omnibook. I like the concept of jazz and some of the jazz vocabulary (harmonic and melodic), but I haven’t what it takes to be a straight-ahead “jazz” musician. I guess I see myself moving toward a music that allows for improvisation on composed melodic and harmonic structures and I don’t know why. Maybe there’s a sort of security in structure (am I insecure?) or possibly I’m feeling underwhelmed by my own abstract noodling. Maybe my own free improvisations were getting formulaic; that is, moving toward structures and repeated motifs (licks).

Let’s see what happens.

Monday, April 10, 2006

They said it couldn't be done...

On Sunday I managed to fit my upright bass into my Corolla!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Group Mind

It's odd and difficult, the vacuum of the solitary, solo performer and recordist. Even with my collab-by mail interaction with others I miss and (sometimes) long for the interaction and give & take of live musicians in the same room. To this end I have started to work with a group again. A drummer and guitarist asked me if I knew a bassist or maybe keyboardist interested in quirky, jazz-influenced, electric instrumental music. I said, "sure, I play bass!" We got together a couple of times to "jam and see what happens" and it was kind of fun - the drummer is good and can put up the Elvin Jones polyrhythm stuff, and the guitarist is interesting in that he is more textural than note-y. Last night things changed for the much better as an alto sax player showed up and we all got quickly into a harmolodic funk straight out of Prime Time. Wow! It was terrific and at that moment things changed from being a fun little Sunday night jam with friends to something much more serious and vital - at that moment we were involved with something more real and important. Things got even better when the keyboardist showed up, dialed in a Rhodes sound and we got all Bitches Brew. Everybody was listening and responding to each other musically and we immediately (I feel) developed a "group identity" (rather than just being individuals playing in the same room together, as the earlier jam sessions had been).

I'm looking forward to seeing (and hearing) what happens with this!