Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why Not Dance?

A few weeks ago, I was playing a gig with Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet.  We were playing outside, at the SOWA art galleries in South Boston.  People would wander by, listen as much as they liked, then move on.  One woman had a four year old girl, and a baby. She said they heard us through their window and had come to find the music.  The girl was dressed in a pink tutu-ish outfit. She listened for a moment, then started dancing, and as long as we played, she danced.  No matter what kind of music we played, she danced.  In or out, grooving or textural, we played and she danced, until the baby started crying, and, very reluctantly, she had to leave.  

Awhile later, two little boys came, and they laughed, and danced.  And I started to wonder, what happens to us?  How is it that we all start out as children who freely dance and sing and cry and laugh, and then we stop.  Something happens, we internalize a voice that tells us to behave, to be still, to be quiet.  To listen, and afterwards, clap.
I wish we could all dance, as freely and joyously as the girl in the pink tutu.   That’s really why I do what I do.   

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Old questions, new again

This blog has been sorely neglected for the past month or so – too many gigs to play, and grants to write!  But now I’m back, and I promise to be here regularly for the next cycle (and yes, to get to compiling that list of improvisation related links I’ve been promising!).
I was on a panel during Jazz Week in Boston, called On the Edge: Exploring the Creative Music Scene with Dave Bryant, John Kordalewski, and Neil Leonard.  I did a short lecture and audience participation session about improvisation.  Afterwards, I was taking questions, and someone asked me “How do I practice getting better at Improvisation, not improvising on my instrument, but improvisation itself.”
I didn’t have a very good answer to that question.  Thinking about it, and talking about it with other improvisers created other questions (which I also don’t have good answers for) and it all kind of cascaded into a wonderful confirmation of the direction my inquiries about improvisation have been and should be heading.  What a gift! 
I know the process of improvisation is engaged whenever we create something, but what is that process?  How do we engage it?  What about it stays the same, no matter what we are creating?  What changes?  What are the core principles, and how can one communicate them to others in a way that facilitates their personal connection to improvisational creativity, no matter what it is they are doing? 
Book number two in there somewhere, but there’s lots of research and cross discipline improv work to be done before then!  I’ll keep you posted...