The music we find
necessary to our lives is relative to the times we live in. Being
sound, music deals with the very stuff of existence. It can
affect the atoms of our beings. So, the music that comes into
earshot can become a sensitive matter for each of us. There is
also the very modern difficulty of having
to avoid music that offends and abuses.
If the music that is
there were entirely satisfactory, there would be no
point for me to be involved in making it. I know there
are those who are satisfied with repeating and imitating what others
have made. In jazz, even when improvisating upon
another's original material, and after respecting the composer's
paradigm, to merely copy, however, is to miss the point of the
improvisator's craft. In jazz, as it has been historically
for serious composers, major points are freshness, personal expression,
and artistic contribution to the craft.
There can be
intellectual rigor to jazz, which can be expressed in its
harmony. It can be a field of serious artistic endeavor.
True, jazz begins with the physical. First comes the dance, then
thought. First the felt-within followed by observation and
analysis. But, harmony
helps to give the dance of jazz greater scope, and advanced harmony a
yet wider landscape of improvisating possibilities.
Harmony is the
bringing together of disparate elements into balance.
In the structured paradigms with line that I make for improvisating, it
has long been my purpose to broaden the music’s harmonic
landscape. This is tempered by the play-ability of a form and its
content. Pure 12-tone technique, for example, would not do.
It must capably serve the improvisating process of jazz.
A number of
composers with jazz sensibility have made advances along this
line. I’m thinking of Billy Strayhorn, for one, in Lush Life;
Charles Mingus’s 20th Century foray into the blues with his Goodbye
Porkpie Hat; Lennie Tristano, for another, in his efforts,
his teaching, to break free of standard scaletone tonality and
resolve. And others, of course. And we are already
familiar, in the playing of Bill Evans and the leadership of Miles
Davis, for instance, with the influence upon jazz of 20th century
French composers. I have also noticed a number of songs coming
out of, or hearing from, Brazil that seem responsive to this thread, The
Dolphin by Eca, for one.
A feature uppermost in
my composing has to do with the chord sequence of a piece.
Standard scaletone resolves and sequences have become, well, too much
standard fare. And improvisating upon one or two chords for
extensive periods ultimately palls.
I regularly look to
unexpected but logical connections in the sequence of
chords I set to a piece or song. Such are not fancifully
chosen. Only according to strict standard scaletone rules, might
some of the sequences seem random. But, when chromaticism is
brought into the picture, their logic is quickly apprehended.
An Alyd moving to an Eb7sus,
for instance, may seem, according to standard scaletone rules, to be an
arbitrary juxtaposition. But, it is not. On the surface
there might appear to be at least three notes needing to be moved
between the two chords.
But, viewed chromatically, that is not entirely necessary. The A,
B, and E, for example, of the A chord can easily work as, respectively,
the augmented 4th, augmented 5th, and the flat 9th of the Eb
chord. Besides, such seeming ambiguities can serve as grist in
the jazz process.
Being a composer
of paradigms for instrumental jazz improvisating, I also craft songs,
additionally creating the lyric of a song for music that occasionally
reflects the musical influences of 20th Century classical, while
maintaining a melody line that is lyrical and accessible to an average