The Restless Spirit Awakes This Friday!

I’m very excited that our (meaning Jacob Sacks and yours truly) music series “The Restess Spirit” will be starting tomorrow at the 5C Cafe at 7:00pm. Our friend and great improvising pianist, Angelica Sanchez will be our first guest of the series. I’m looking forward to seeing Angie since she has been on maternity leave for the past few months (I hope to see the baby tomorrow too!) It’s going to be a cool sound to hear piano, wurlitzer and voice.

The performance will be all free improvisation. I normally don’t do gigs that are totally free improvising but I love it and Angie is a gifted improviser (as well as Jacob). I have no doubt that the interaction will be adventurous and surprising.

For any readers out there who are unaware of what “free improvisation” is, let me try to give my general definition. “Free improvisation” is when there are no specific harmonies, forms or melodies written out, except that which the musicians create in the moment, with each other.

Now how does this differ from any other improvisation? Well, in some ways it doesn’t. For instance, all improvisation (in jazz or other styles of music) should have interaction with all the musicians ; everyone is listening to each other and trying to react to what is being played (ideally, this should be happenning all the time). With free improv, there isn’t any actual music written out, but you are thinking about form and melody and harmony. You’re thinking about it in the context of what you are creating at that moment. Does that make sense? There may be folks out there that disagree with me, but I think of it this way.

Free improvisation should be practised as much as practised improvising on a written musical form. I find it challenging to play free and that’s what makes it so exciting.

When I play with 4inObjects I know that the band and I are always playing in a free improvising way. We may play written out music but it’s how we play the music that makes it’s extremely free. There are never any arrangements written out, no solos designated, no cues, just a lot of listening and being in the moment. No one knows who will start the tune or who will take a solo or take a group solo, if we will follow the form of the tune when improvisation happens or who will end the tune. I feel like I get the best of both worlds in that band. I can play forms and I can still do free improvisation and I always feel surprise. It’s just too much fun. Also, we are such great friends, the hang is always cool.

There could be an endless disscussion on improvisation and playing free and all that. I can just tell you that I feel an affinity for anyone who plays in this way no matter what style of music they are into. If you are truly in the moment and are searching for something new, I’m right there with ya.