Of all the projects we have done this is perhaps the most traditional in the sense that we got together and played compositions. Some of Gress’s, some of Maggi’s and some of my tunes. Nevertheless, we approached the task in the same manner as in our previous collaborations. From my own point of view playing with Drew was both the easiest thing I’ve ever done and also the most difficult. Playing with Katt Hernandez, for example, was easy because there is a relative openness in the approach. Not that anything goes, but almost everything is negotiable. Drew comes out of a long and strong jazz tradition that has its rules and its traditions and out of that tradition he has established his own aesthetic in a way that is very specific yet very open. In order to fully understand his approach, I felt I had to also understand where he was coming from.
Luckily, Drew was easy to work with and shared a lot of stories about his past and current musical collaborations. Also, through his music the process became more and more transparent. For myself one of the key clues came when he brought in a hand written tune titled Vespar. Not only was it a clear reference to a more jazz oriented aesthetic, it had a clear reference to one of the key figures in re-structuring jazz in contemporary harmony and melody, namely Kenny Wheeler. Hence, to me this tune brought a understanding to, not only how to play his compositions, but also to how to play with him.
This is a recording of a concert we did at IAC in Malmö. The concert was very informal and we set up in a circle, facing each other with the audience behind us in a circle. Hence, we were playing to an imaginary centre to which the audience was also turned. Simply put, we as musicians, had the same visual focus as the audience. Which is a bit strange since it also meant that we had our backs turned towards the audience.
Following the concert was a talk with the audience. A bit hesitant to begin with but eventually this chat turned out to be a very valuable discussion on the means of communication possible in the context of a concert. The actual conversation is not part of the video here with respect for the participants, but I will discuss the impact the discussions had in a separate post (they are also brought up here: croneholm, day 2: listener experience
One of the main points brought up however, was the importance of the staging of the event. Not only the way we set up but also the meta communication concerning the concert. The hint at it being informal, the fact that we set up in a circle, the communicated condition that we were experimenting with the forms of communication and style, all of these items set focus on the situation rather than us as a group, or even as a jazz group. In the end this allows for a different kind of interface for the audience to approach the music that we do. And, in this context, perhaps most importantly, it allows us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and ignore otherwise quite important factors in improvisation.