The development of jazz and improvised music, like that of many other genres that rest on originality and personal expression, rests on a sound relation between administering the tradition and developing the new. Obviously, a too firm focus on restating the past will bring the development to a halt, while context serves most improvised music well. All three; restating the past, administering the tradition and recreating the new, may be artistically intriguing and display great aesthetic integrity. Nevertheless, the aesthetic discussion, and to some extent the understanding of the artistic expression in question, depends on the context and the context depends on the expression’s dialectics and meta-level.
One of the main purposes of expEAR is to attempt to map out the potential openness and opacity of contemporary jazz and improvised music, and the method is to seek out musicians and artists that have a long and particular experience of developing a unique voice in music. Together we them we will attack questions concerning the possibilities for openings for freedom from, and the closing of the structure. Or, phrased differently, how can improvisation be structured without loosing its freedom. Over the last few decades similar investigations have been performed by Paul Berliner and Ingrid Monson, and to some extent within the large trans-disciplinary Canadian project iCast, taking a musicological stance. Our take will be to perform the investigation in our own artistic practice and through our informers practice.
Since the 70s jazz is a natural part of any music education in Europe and Northern America but jazz theory is still rooted in the bebop tradition with little or no relevance to the music of musicians such as Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell or Anthony Braxton. This is only one reason that this project needs to take place in the rehearsal room as well as on the stage: at the place where the actual development takes place, in a musical dialogue rather than a theoretical. Historically we have reached a point in the music history where the senior defining forces are no longer musicians that started their careers in the 40s, 50s and 60s, but rather eclectic artists like John Zorn, Sylvie Courvoisier and Rita Marcotulli whose relation to the jazz history is of a different kind than Freddie Hubbard’s for example.
Together with musicians such as Drew Gress and Katt Hernandez we will attempt to re-enact some of the methods that they have been used in the past. Combining intense rehearsals, live concerts and recordings along with documentation and discussions we are looking forward to present a large and varied material for others to take part of and further develop.