writing




how a polish sailor turned british novelist helped me find a voice as a jazz improviser
It was the author Joseph Conrad whose ideas about "the main task" of art inspired a significant change in how I thought about my goals as a creative musician. In his preface to a novel published in 1897, he wrote, "A work that aspires, however humbly, to the status of art should carry its justification in every line." In other words, an artist's work is economical in expression so that every element contributes in a vital way to the completeness of that work. It was this insight which caused me to evaluate the aims of... MORE



on a definition of jazz music
Consider some responses to the question "What is Jazz?" by some of the original creators: "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know," said Louis Armstrong. This statement, and a similar one attributed to Fats Waller, suggest that jazz is only intuitively known. Thelonious Monk also echoes this idea: "I don't have a definition of jazz...you're just supposed to know it when you hear it." From another perspective, Bill Evans tries to distinguish what jazz is not: "...it bugs me when people try to analyse jazz as an intellectual theorem... it's not. It's feeling." Despite the aesthetic differences among these highly influential artists, one consistently finds an absence of definitive musical traits in their statements. Instead, their responses address feeling and intuitive awareness, two inward events which do not pin jazz to a static definition, but reveal an active, subjective experience. MORE



what's the difference between good and bad music?
I think this question presumes that music can be described as good or bad - I don't agree with that premise. Look at music from two sides: one side contains all measurable materials - some presence of melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre, form and all the rest of it; on the other side is music's effect on... MORE



how mozart got me into jazz!!
I was driving in a 1988 Chrystler K-Car enroute to the little part-time job I had in High School. I was 16. It was 1991 and the 200 hundredth anniversary of Mozart's death so although there were tributes going on all around me, I was oblivious because I had no real affinity to any style of music at that time. I was driving east along Fennell Avenue in Hamilton approaching Upper Wentworth. I remember reaching over to turn on the radio. The first thing I heard was an announcer on a show called 'Morning Mozart' talking about how the station would broadcast the composer's complete works throughout the year. I'm certain there was no introduction to the composition he played next because I would have remembered the name of the piece at such a critical moment in my life... MORE