Archive for category Healthy routine
If I was to analyse what is it that makes my favourite players stand out, the first thing that would come to mind is style – they all have something that defines their playing, something unique and interesting. Also, there aren’t many people who have a style that is associated with them exclusively, which makes the concept of personal character even more intriguing. So how can we define it?
To address something as complex and subjective, I would have to mention a few of my most liked guitar players, since I am writing with reference to guitar playing mostly: John Abercrombie, Mike Stern, Tim Miller, John McLaughlin, Al di Meola, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Kurt Rosenwinkel…the list can go on. Despite all of them being associated with the idiom of jazz, their ways of playing and improvising are entire individual musical worlds.
In improvised music, the good players eventually come to a state of mind where personality becomes part of the process, and since personalities are unique, this is a significant part of defining style. A combination of influences, personal preferences – both in and outside music, temperament and vision account for what we identify as originality. And then, the context in which improvisation takes shape is the factor that defines the great bands: Shakti, Return to forever, Trio Beyond are all good examples of group improvisation at its best, musical experiences that in turn shape playing and composition.
After this rather lengthy introduction, it’s time to get back to the quote that prompted this post, a Kurt Rosenwinkel interview or masterclass where he talked about creativity and originality. Picasso famously compared it to drawing a perfect circle – because nobody can do it, the individual imperfections will be what is ultimately defined as style. In a previous post, I talk about Mike Stern’s idea on the same subject, where what a guitarist can’t play is at the origin of uniqueness in music, something very much identical to Picasso’s thoughts on the matter.
In the light of these, the quest for originality ultimately leads us to an unexpected conclusion: play the music as well as you can possibly play, and the honest imperfections that will inevitably emerge in the process will be the identifiers behind others’ perception of the way of performing that is unique to you.
Similarly to improvisation being spontaneous composition, creating a musical identity implies significant and continuous hard work. I came to see the proficiency of great improvisers as the tip of the iceberg, where it – the visible part, about 10% , is supported by the other 90% – years and years of hard work and experience.
2013 has started lively with a smoking performance from the Larry Goldings trio – with Peter Bernstein on guitar and Bill Stewart on drums. Ronnie Scott’s was grooving like a spaceship and for those interested Goldings with return to Ronnie’s on Sunday the 3rd of March, this time to play with the John Scofield trio.
I have seen John Scofield playing live many times, but never at Ronnie Scott’s – this place tends to bring out the best in musicians so can’t afford to miss the date. Another notable presence at the jazz club in February in Billy Cobham, who is coming for a whole week residency in central London. As a general observation, in recent times Ronnie’s has become a jazz centre in London – in the past Jazz Cafe, Mean Fiddler and others used to complement the picture with a healthy number of jazz occasions, whereas now it seems other venues have chosen a more commercial path.
Shortly afterwards, the London Famenco show at Saddler’s Wells will introduce a different dimension to my search for inspiration – a few weeks of explosive Flamenco, crowned with Tomatito’s appearance on the 20th in March should speed up the arrival of spring. Until then, some memories from last year’s jazz festival:
Lots of good drumming, grooving and riffing in this John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension video – looking forward to some more in 2013!
I am starting to realise booking tickets for this year’s London jazz festival was a very inspired idea – I managed to get some of the best seats and some of the better deals on tickets, as being a jazz devotee nowadays isn’t cheap by any stretch of imagination. Here are the dates and gigs of interest to me:
Jim Hall at the Queen Elizabeth hall on Sunday 18 November – I only managed to see Jim Hall live once – at the Dave Holland’s 60th birthday concert in London at the Barbican a few years back. Looking forward to a great experience as the master ages like a good wine, writing jazz history in the process.
Jan Garbarek group with Trilok Gurtu on Tuesday 13 November – great combination of rhythms and ideas which can be grouped under the umbrella of world music with a strong jazz background. Last time at the Barbican, a few years ago, I enjoyed their performance immensely, also hoping for more this time around.
Bill Frisell: The great flood at Queen Elizabeth hall on Monday 12 November – another occasion to see Bill Frisell and indulge in his unique sound and sense of improvisation. Every project I’ve seen live so far has been a very rewarding musical experience and a great example of thinking and playing outside the box, which is why Frisell is one of my favourite musicians ever.
Paco de Lucia at the Royal Festival hall on Friday 16 November – it is not every day that I get to see a true legend playing live and Paco’s music has a very special place in my heart. His playing has been a flamenco-dominated mix of styles brought alive through truly magical and inspired improvisations.
Fred Hersh at the Purcell Room on Tuesday 2 October – I first heard of Hersh from a belgian piano player, Ivan Paduart, whose master classes I used to attend in Moldova about 10 years ago. This should be a good idea to familiarise myself with Hersh’s music ina live setting.
Chick Corea – Christian McBride – Brian Blade at the Barbican on Saturday 17 November – part of the heavy artillery at this year’s jazz festival, guaranteed to impress and inspire.
And finally, possible the concert closest to my heart, John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension on Sunday 11 November at the Barbican – John McLaughlin is my all-time favourite player who continuously motivates and inspires me – the perfect cherry on the 2012 London jazz festival cake!
Quite a few gigs, which means I will have a great autumn and get some more ideas and inspiration for my playing. After that, it’s all about practice.