A reviewer once said that my music didn't have an axe to grind, so I figured I should offer some words of explanation for those that like such things.
The title of this cd 'Instability' could refer to the socio-political-economic instability that blights the world, or the mental instability of the people that run it. Or the madness of trying to release a CD of solo sax improvisations that few will want to listen to.
And there’s the physical instability of the air column inside the saxophone as I try to wrench sounds out of it's conical tubular depths. The phenomenon of multiphonics involves trying to get the air to vibrate at more than one pitch at the same time and forcing it into a state of incertitude as it stubbornly tries to return to a more comfortable existence. Other so called extended techniques can often result from exploring sonic irregularities.
Instability could also mean the 'instant ability' required when improvising. Things happen in the heat of the moment that you didn't know you could do and one of the main attractions of improvisation is the unforeseen results that can occur.
When you try to explain the process of improvisation there are all kinds of different factors at play - what you've eaten, the weather, your mood, whatever you've read, listened to or seen, unpaid bills and all the other mundane things running through your mind. Even if you're not consciously trying to express something, it'll still tend to leak through into your playing.
There's also the physical state of the instrument and the player – your
breathing, lip control and embouchure are never quite the same twice.
Acoustic instruments are fundamentally inconsistent and therein lies the appeal and the frustration. Everything that went right yesterday is
guaranteed to go wrong today.
We have to learn to thrive on chaos.
And there's the intangible. Music appears from nowhere and you end up playing things that seem unconnected to your emotions as if there's some separate entity called ‘music’ that comes and goes whenever it wants and you're just a conduit for this mysterious force, a medium that can never comprehend the message.
This 'otherness' has lead some to ascribe mystical significance to it's ebb and flow – many musicians have claimed some kind of spiritual or cosmic inspiration and even arch cynic Frank Zappa had his 'Big Note' theory.
There are many cultures and traditions that see music as a spiritual vessel capable of magical experience and there are many connections between various forms of mysticism and music, all of which indicates that music can be more than just mere entertainment or intellectual cleverness. At it's best improvisation can be mind expanding or transcendental, You feel different afterwards, changed somehow - those are the kinds of experiences that make you keep doing it over and over, drawn to the feeling of 'otherness'
I'm yet to come to any firm conclusions about any of this. Perhaps it's better just to let it happen than try to delve too deeply, but it often feels
like you're summoning up something else besides what ‘you’ are when this music stuff starts to happen and you're an innocent bystander wondering what the fuck's going on, just hanging on for the ride.
Improvisation can be as crude as a fart or as celestial as sunlight.
Only the music speaks, we just get to listen.
Axes are for chopping wood and I'd rather grow a tree.
If a musician plays in a forest and no one is around to hear, does it break any new ground?
31st October 2015
released April 28, 2016
Dave Jackson - Alto Saxophone
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