August 28, 2013
lim recently started rehearsing again after a period of inactivity. We’ve added guitarist Samuel Hällkvist to the group and turned into a quartet, and are entering a new phase with the band. We are planning to record a new album next spring and will also get back into performing live.
Besides working on some new music, we have also decided to rearrange some of the pieces that we’ve been playing as a trio in the past. This gives us a chance to change or open things up when it comes to interpretation, form, arrangements, etc, and also helps with keeping things fresh as well as making us aware of patterns/habits, that we might want to avoid getting stuck with and/or limited by.
Thinking about this reminded me of the fact that I have always enjoyed listening to artists revising their books, for instance Miles Davis (especially during the late ’60s), Wayne Shorter, Charles Lloyd, Weather Report, Bill Frisell, Paul Motian, John Zorn and Frank Zappa. I enjoy the process of further investigating what you already “know”!
I find searching for new ways of approaching “familiar” material very interesting and I look at this from two different perspectives. On one hand, there is the collective/overall approach, which could mean form, arrangement, approach, feel, etc, and on the other hand, there is the aspect of how to play your part.
The idea of trying to find other and, to me, new ways of approaching a piece of music is very inspiring and challenging to my ear/imagination/creativity. There are so many parameters you can focus on/work with, and I think that just keeping this in mind will affect your sensitivity as a listener as well as a performer. Again, interpretation/approach/feel, your role (tension/release), orchestration/colour/sound, articulation, density, dynamics and of course your rhythmic vocabulary, these are just some of the “tools” that can be examined and developed.
Many of the improvisers that I am inspired by seem to hear several possibilities of where to go or what/how to play at any given moment. Having that flow of ideas and freedom of expression is something that I am very attracted to and striving for in my own playing. I guess what makes this really successful is the balance between having a strong voice, a large vocabulary, being facile and keeping an open mind/ear.
On the other side of the spectrum is playing something that is very familiar or perhaps even set or arranged and still being able to make that feel genuine/fresh. This is something that I haven’t really been doing a lot in quite a while, but definitely something that I appreciate when I hear it.
Regardless of how you approach music and what/how you choose to play, I think the most important thing to strive for is making music that has honesty, vitality and conviction.