Saturday, July 26, 2014

Shin'ichi Isohata 13 Questions


磯端伸一

Isohata Shin'ichi was born in 1962 in Osaka. He began to play guitar from 12 years old, and soon got interested in the harmony and ad-lib of jazz, then began to study them and guitar technique by self-education.
He studied modern jazz theory and fretless guitar technique under Tim Donahue during 1982-'85. During 1985-'91, Isohata was the last student of Masayuki "jojo" Takayanagi - one of the most important figures in Japanese free jazz and a teacher of Otomo Yoshihide and Kazuo Imai.  He lives in Hyogo prefecture since 1994.

 

His musical activities have many variations, and he has a lot of experiences as costarring with many wonderful musicians. His guitar music consists of Images that are created from the perception, and his original theoretical structure. His music has so delicate calm sound, clear tone, and a Japan beauty. His lifework, series "EXISTENCE" was started in 1996. It aims at sharing of esthetic space with artists of other fields, also it will be continued throughout his life.

 

His music ranges widely, from classical and popular to noise and abstract, and developed a personal game, combining technical jazz, contemporary and a reductionist approach to onkyo: pure deep harmonics, silences and free improvised pieces like an elegant and minimalistic tribute to Derek Bailey. He also performs compositions by Taku Sugimoto and Otomo Yoshihide and has performed with Xavier Charles, Quentin Dubost, Christine Shanaoui, Yvar Grydeland, Masafumi Ezaki, Reiko Imanishi, Michel HenritziA qui avec Gabrie and others.


with A qui avec Gabriel
His improvisation achieves both delicacy and boldness through visual imagery and distinctive theory-based formatting. Beginning in a jazz idiom he works for deconstruct the language in a subtle and broken game, sometimes rocking in a libertarian bruitism. Today he teaches guitar in Kobe.
One of his last works is the BSO for the documentary film, "The legacy of Frida Kahlo", about the successful female photographer, Miyako ISHIUCHI's encounter with Frida Kahlo's material legacy.




Can you describe a sound experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a musician?

I remember that I have been fascinated strongly to the strange dissonant harmony or rhythm of jazz guitar and bossa-nova music playing on the radio when I was yet a kids.  I think this experience led me to the music life unconsciously. But then my music continue to metamorphose by the influence of various music and art.




What do you recall about your guitar learning process?

I began to learn the guitar with chord book by self-taught for playing Japanese popular song, and my interest moved soon to jazz. I found to be able to play ad-lib on the fretboard, so I played ad-lib like rock or jazz with various music indefinitely during my teenager. I learned also classical guitar method from my friend around the same time.


June 1st, 2013 shin'ichi isohata with Kumi Iwase @ Ackenbush, Paris

Why did you decide to pick up the guitar as a expression tool?

The first motive is I wanted to imitate my favorite singer who plays with acoustic guitar, and junior high school had some classical guitars, so I had no choice other than guitar.


Shin'Ichi Isohata & Antti Virtaranta Duo Improvisation

Which work of your own are you most surprised by?

About in recently, it is some playing with A qui avec Gabriel who is so nice accordion player at some venue for festival in France (2013).  I met her at first time before performance, and  soon we played at the big hall in Nancy. I worried a bit for playing because we had no rehearsal, but I was so surprised that we could success to collaborate amazing sound.


Shin'Ichi Isohata - Souffle Continu - 16/05/2013

Where are your roots? What are your influences?

I was influenced from so many music. My first musical roots was Japanese popular music, or jazz and fusion guitar music.  I spent a time to copy some of them. Then, I studied modern jazz theory and fretless guitar technique under Tim Donahue during 1982-'85. After that I studied under Masayuki Takayanagi during 1985-'91, I corrected the foundation of the technique of a guitar thoroughly in Takayanagi's private school, and learned his aesthetics and philosophy of music a lot. Takayanagi, Barry Galbraith, Jim Hall, and Derek Bailey are most important guitarists for me. Also I influenced strongly from contemporary music, Morton Feldman, Salvatore Sciarrino, Anton Webern, Takemitsu, Milton Babbitt, etc..


An image from ''Peace Piece'' James Barrett and Shin'ichi Isohata


How many guitars do you have? Select only one and tell me why.

Now I have 3 archtop guitars and 1 solid body EG. My main guitar is Gibson ES 175 (1953). Old ES-175 with P-90 PU has a big and beautiful acoustic tone. And I use it because I play with bow or the string sound of head or between bridge and tailpiece.  The archtop shape like violin is convenient for bowing, or expressing various sound. Also I love P-90 PU sound to be output from amplifier.



What is the most recent musical concept that has attracted your attention?

My own music is becoming simpler than in recent years.  It may metamorphose to more simple and inorganic, or lyrical sound in the future.


May 30th, 2013 with aqui avec Gabriel @ La Malterie, Lille, France

What remember about your musical teachers?

The teacher I was most affected is Takayanagi. He has never taught me jazz guitar, but he taught me a lot of essences of music. It is a great energy for cultivating my music. He was a great influence in Japan on free jazz, improvisation, and noise music.


Shin'ichi Isohata (guitar), Yangjah (Dance), MIIT House, Osaka, Japan. October 13th, 2013

What's the importance of technique in music, in your opinion?

I think technique of the instrument is a tool that satisfies the expression of the artists themselves, so I think techniques is needed for artistic expression. but I think excessive technique obstruct rather true expression.


Isohata Shin'ichi with Otomo Yoshihide 2013.2.12


What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

Takayanagi said reality of music does not exist yet, and also we are playing and enjoying something. It's like "music".
My most respectful buddhist monk said that all existences have everything. It means all existences are important and must be loved.


Tristan Honsinger, Shuichi Chino, Shin'ichi Isohata ② Oct 17th, 2013

What gear do you use?

Usually I use archtop guitar (Gibson ES-175, L4C, Eastman AR610), a bow for cello, small clothes pins, pick, and a mallet for tremolo. About electronics, I use volume pedal and sometimes BOSS DD-20 to get  effect long delay time. My guitar cables are special "domon cable", they bring so high quality and good tone. I use amp AER, Polytone, Fender tube amp.



Do you prefer play alone or in a group? What is the difference for you?

I prefer solo performance by my original music, but I like also to play with other musician, dancer, speaker by duo or small unit. The goal of our ensemble is a collaboration for mixing of each other music as one work, so that is not a session like compete for ad-lib as jazz.







What are you currently working on?

Now I am working on the short pieces which was made by assembling the cell of a minimum sound. And also I would like to create a collaboration with dancers for a improvised expression like literary or theatrical.




Friday, July 25, 2014

Nick Millevoi 13 questions




Nick Millevoi is a Philadelphia-based guitarist who explores and expands upon the sound of the electric guitar through frequent use of non-traditional tunings, feedback, and raw noise. On his most recent solo-guitar releases, Numbers on the Side (Ivory Antler, 2014) and In White Sky (Flenser Records), Millevoi combines his 6- and 12-string electric guitars with drones and extreme volume to create a startling new work. Nick is a member of the noise-rock-free jazz trio Many Arms, who have two releases on John Zorn's Tzadik label. Nick makes one half of the duo Archer Spade with trombonist Dan Blacksberg, who have performed music by composers Mick Barr, Gene Coleman, Dave Soldier, and Johnny DeBlase, as well as curating a performance series in Philadelphia.



Nick has toured extensively as a solo guitarist as well as with Many Arms, Deveykus (Tzadik), Haitian Rail, Make A Rising, Electric Simcha, and with Gene Coleman's Ensemble N_JP, and has performed across the US, Canada, and Europe and at festivals, such as Incubate (Netherlands), Gaffer Fest (France), Suoni Per Il Popolo (Canada), Montreal Jewish Music Festival, and the New Atlantis Festival (DC), and the Masada Book Three Premiere concert at New York's Town Hall. Nick has collaborated with many great improvisors, including Toshimaru Nakamura, Keir Neuringer, Thomas Buckner, Ken Ueno, Ches Smith, Travis LaPlante, Weasel Walter, Kevin Shea, Joe Lally, Dead Neanderthals, Balazs Pandi, and many others. Nick has releases on many labels, including Tzadik, New Atlantis, The Flenser, and Public Eyesore.




The Village Voice has called Nick a "guitar-wielding, audience-massacring hero," and music journal Burning Ambulance has described him as, "A fierce player who knows his way around a riff and can tie himself, and the listener, in knots with his contorted, passionate soloing." Foxy Digitalis called In White Sky, "a searing collection of exploded guitar compositions." Millevoi's music has been reviewed by SPIN, NPR Music, The Onion AV Club, Wire magazine, and many others.




Nick Millevoi - guitar, Edward Ricart - bass, Travis Laplante - tenor sax , Ches Smith - drums

What do you remember about the first concert you played?

The thing I remember most about my first performances, but not any one in particular, is trying to control the music. Sometimes I was able to and sometimes I wasn't, sometimes it sounded good and sometimes it didn't. I think I only found my voice as a performer when I realized that I didn't need to always control the music.



Why do you need music? Can we live without music?

I need music as a way to express my ideas creatively and to constantly challenge myself as well as filling a pretty large social role in my life. I think some people can live without music and do just fine living that way, but it's part of our culture and a way for people to express and define themselves, bringing all that goes along with it.

Recorded live at the Highwire Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, February 25, 2012, by George Draguns

Which is the main pleasure of the guitar? What is its main limitation?

Probably discovery is the main pleasure for me. I also like to regularly practice pieces that I'll never perform, and the challenge of learning new pieces is something that also gives me a lot of pleasure.

The main limitation is trying to connect with the sound. Unlike most instruments, the relationship between the guitarist and the sound from the amplifier is really disconnected, especially with a solid body guitar that doesn't vibrate much. This is why so many guitar players, myself included, always want to play loudly! But, since it's not always possible to do so, it creates a very big limitation.



Which work of your own are you most surprised by?

My solo work that relies on drones and feedback might be the most surprising to make because I am often surrendering any control over the instrument and the sound and allowing physics to take over. In that case, I just make decisions and am often surprised by how they come out.




Where are your roots? What are your influences?

My roots are in rock guitar. As a kid, I was obsessed with classic rock and I developed my ear that way. My earliest influences are in rock and roll, especially the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Neil Young, later changing to avant garde jazz guitarists such as Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Joe Morris, as well as Coltrane, John Zorn, and Paul Motian. The AACM and Japanese free jazz and noise music have had lots of influence as well.



Tell me one musical work which has provoked a change in your music.

The band Bohren & Der Club of Gore provoke a change every time I hear them. I love the way they play so slowly and create something so awesome in doing it that it always leaves me thinking about how that can influence my music. I hear them and I just want to get slower!



Define the sound you're still looking for, or the sound you'd like to hear. 

I'm still looking for a way to create a guitar tone as massive as Neil Young's and find a space for it in the context of my own music.



How would you define the present time in musical terms?

I think it's hard to define what's going on at any present time and at the moment I'm not really sure. The music I'm interested in at the moment is probably not the best barometer of what's going on in the world musically. I'm pretty focused on a slice of music that's combines weird rock, jazz, and noise but doesn't fall into any one of those genres.



Which living and dead artist would you like to collaborate with?

There are a lot of artists I would love to collaborate with! To pick one artist who isn't living, I'll pick Masayuki Takayanagi. I would love to play a trio with him and a drummer. I think we could come up with something pretty harsh sounding.

And for living, Bohren & Der Club of Gore. I think it would be great and challenging to get to do a project with them that was really slow and dark.


Many Arms are Ricardo Lagomasino – drums, John DeBlase - electric bass & Nick Millevoi – guitar

What is some valuable advice that someone has given to you in the past?

A lot of people have told me to turn down. I should have listened to them before my ears started ringing as much as they do.


Joe Moffett - trumpet, Nick Millevoi - guitar, David Flaherty - drums , Johnny DeBlase - bass / compositions

What gear do you use? What gear or instrument fires your curiosity to use?

My Creston Telecaster-style guitar through my 72 Deluxe Reverb is firing all of my curiosity. I got this guitar recently and feel like I'm still getting to know it, and everyday I seem to be discovering new things. I've been playing a friend's 1965 Gibson LG-1 a lot and feel like I've taken a real interest in the acoustic guitar for the first time since I've been working on my own music.

I also use a G&L Legacy, a Fender Strat XII, and a Traynor YBA-1 head, as well as a handful of really basic pedals (overdrive, compression, delay), and two Electro Harmonix Freeze Pedals.


Many Arms are Ricardo Lagomasino – drums, John DeBlase - electric bass & Nick Millevoi – guitar

What is the most recent musical concept that has attracted your attention?

I've been really trying to think about leaving space. It sometimes seems really obvious, but I'm trying to do more of it in my music and find ways to let notes and sounds sit in space and not always fill it up so much.



What are you currently working on?

I have a few active projects: I have a new set of music that I've been developing that is based on mostly short and simple tonal progressions that I've been playing with different folks and letting it develop.

I'm also finishing an album by Archer Spade, my chamber duo with trombonist Dan Blacksberg, that features a series of pieces that various composers we admire wrote for us to play. We're also working on a new project that features a trio of us and Toshimaru Nakamura that I'm looking forward to getting some momentum (of course, this takes a lot of planning since Toshi lives in Tokyo and we are here in Philadelphia!). Many Arms also has an album with Toshimaru that will come out on Public Eyesore later this year.

And in the next couple of months, I have two new albums coming out with different bands. One is Solarists by Haitian Rail, a band of Dan Blacksberg, bassist Ed Ricart, drummer Kevin Shea and myself. That will be out July 29 on New Atlantis Records. The other is the debut self-titled Form and Mess record on Sick Room Records, which is a new trio that plays music by George Draguns, who is the bassist, also with Kevin Shea on drums.





SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY



Numbers on the Side - new solo release, split with Oni Baba, CD on Ivory Antler Records

Many Arms - Suspended Definition, CD on Tzadik

Haitian Rail (w/Ed Ricart, Dan Blacksberg, Kevin Shea) - Solarists, CD on New Atlantis Records
Form and Mess (w/George Draguns, Kevin Shea) - LP on Sick Room
Many Arms + Toshimaru Nakamura on Public Eyesore

Solo


In White Sky
released 2012 by The Flenser
$7/shipping included
d/l available from TheFlenser.com

















Archaic Fetishism Vol. 4 - split with Natura Morta
released 2012 by Edible Onion
available at edibleonion.com














Black Figure of a Bird
released 2011 by New Atlantis Records/Sundmagi Records
$10/shipping included

Many Arms:


Many Arms
released April 2012 by Tzadik
$15/shipping included

Missing Time
released 2010 by Engine Records
available for download at manyarms.bandcamp.com
$12/shipping included

Ocean of Snakes
released 2009 by Majmua Music
available for download at manyarms.bandcamp.com
limited edition 3" CD-R sold out

















Palabras Malas
self-released 2009
available for download at manyarms.bandcamp.com
$10/shipping included

Ricart/Millevoi Quartet:














Haitian Rail
release Aug 2013 on LP by Gaffer Records, tape by New Atlantis Records
$17/LP, $7/tape

Deveykus:












Pillar of Mercy
released 2013, Tzadik Records

Bailly/Millevoi/Moffett:

Strange Falls
released 2012 by Eh? Records
$10/shipping included

Make a Rising:














New I Fealing
self-released 2011

Johnny DeBlase Quartet:













Released 2012
available for download at johnnydeblase.bandcamp.com

Circles:

















Weighs a Ton
released 2009 by Wooden Man Records
$10/shipping included

When the Big River Floods
released 2006 by Well Below Records/Summersteps Records

Mea'l (Johnny DeBlase/Mike Eber/Nick Millevoi/Eli Litwin):

Mea'l
released 2010 by Abandon Ship Records



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sonny Sharrock: ON IMPROVISATION



Warren Harding Sharrock

Sonny Sharrock was one of the first American free-jazz guitarists. He played in the '60s with Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders, Roy Ayers, Herbie Mann and many other greats. He has also recorded three solo LPs at the beginning of the '70s with his wife Lynda Sharrock on vocals before discreetly disappearing from the musical scene.



His career started again in the beginning of the '80s when he met Bill Laswell, who hired him to form the Free-Rock-Jazz-Noise Last Exit quartet (with Ronald Shannon Jackson and Peter Brötzmann) between 1986 and 1990.



Sharrock has released solo recordings (the highly acclaimed "Ask the Ages" on Bill Laswell’s Axiom Records, with Pharoah Sanders again) and played as guest on many other records (with Material, Ginger Baker, Nicky Skopelitis, F. Robert Lloyd, etc.).

SONNY SHARROCK: ON IMPROVISATION

As told to Dannette Hill



MY VIEW OF IMPROVISATION IS VERY PERSONAL, FULL of love, anger, truth, lies, and, in the end (I hope), sense. According to Webster's, to improvise is "to compose without previous preparation," or "to make or devise from what is at hand".


Sonny Sharrock 1988 Knitting Factory

There are three basic types of improvisers, the foremost being "the creator," who has an insatiable need to tell his story. For him, improvisation is only a tool. He plays each solo as if it were his last. He will not be compromised, nor will he be stopped. Next is "the juggler," for whom the skill of improvisation is just as important as is the need to tell his story. The juggler gathers around him all of the things he has heard, and one by one tosses them into the air. With his skillful hands he cleverly keeps them aloft. He seldom drops an idea, because he knows them all so well.Finally, there is "the tinkerer, whose improvisations are based on formulas and the instrument itself. His scientific manipulation of sound is laboratory-created and laboratory-bound forever. Making up a subcategory, if you will, is "the fool." He claims he is bored with music, so he has decided to make noise. Fool + Noise = Bullshit.



Sonny and Linda Sharrock - Live on WKCR, 03/21/1974

Free Download

Throughout this discussion, I speak mainly about jazz music, for three reasons. First, because it is the music I know best, and it is also 90% improvised. Second, because classical music has not been improvised for at least 200 years. And last, because rock is pop music, with the singer and the song being the main components. Rock instrumental solos fall mainly into the "juggler" category. Regardless of the style of music, guitarists are such an insular group that they have become incestuous. They never listen to other instruments, but instead feed upon each other. It's no wonder that everyone sounds the same. My main influences have always been horn players and drummers. I'm always slightly amused when I see a magazine mention Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, or John Coltrane along with an identification of their instrument. How can anyone think of being a musician and not be familiar with these men? If you ever hope to be a serious improviser, you have to know what, how, and why these and many others contributed to improvisation.


The Sonny Sharrock Quartet Stupid Fuck

There are five main starting points for improvisation: melody, chords, scales/modes, tonal centers, and freedom. Most improvisers use a combination of these to obtain a particular sound. Throughout any improvisation, it helps to have a clear vision of the melody. I always strive to make my improvisations sound like a song. Melody is the first thing you learn and the last thing you hear before you impro- vise. Melody is the song. In my solo on "Broken Toys" [Sonny Sharrock--Guitar, Enemy102) I improvise pieces of melody and use them to develop a new one, which becomes the song.



Although a composer might use chords in conjunction with a melody, an improvisation based on the chords can be totally un- related to the original song. The technique for improvising on chord changes is fairly simple: You apply the appropriate scales and arpeggios to the chords. The hard part is to turn this into music.


 
Charlie Parker and John Coltrane were probably the two greatest chordal improvisers who ever lived. They go beyond the standard technique, extending the scales and substituting and layering chords over the basic chord changes. Modal playing is the opposite of chordal improvisation. Instead of applying scales to chords, the scales create the harmony by emphasizing different notes. Soloing on tonal centers is different than modal and chordal playing, although it is a combination of the two. It simply uses either the most dominant tonality in a set of chord changes or a melody as the basis for a solo. Ornette Coleman is a master of this type of improvisation. He builds upon the melody, shifting his tonal center at will.



Sonny Sharrock agreed to provide the theme music for Space Ghost Coast to Coast after listening to producer Keith Crofford's description of the show. According to Crofford, Sharrock thought the show sounded "cute." On  November 19, 1993, Sharrock and Lance Carter, his drummer of choice, met at Quantum Sound Studio, a recording studio in Jersey City, N.J., to  improvise over a guide track created by Atlanta musician Eddie Horst. Horst has fondly recalled Sharrock looking up after a particularly blistering take and asking, "Was that too melodic?" The ensuing session  not only passed muster for the show's theme song, but it also inspired all of the music for the album. Horst served as producer and played all other instruments on the tracks. The vocals of Alfreda Gerald, who sings on "Hit Single," were added at a later date. All the  disparate elements were mixed by the show's sound designer, Roy Clements.


Free Download

Finally, there is freedom--the most misunderstood and the most misused of all these elements. Freedom grows out of improvisation. It is both your emotional peak and your deeper self. It is the cry of jazz. The one rule for playing free is that you can play anything you want. A critic once remarked to me that it takes a great amount of taste to play free. He was wrong. Artists cannot be hampered by the restriction of taste. What playing free does take is imagination and confidence. In free playing, there is nothing else to stand on; it's like walking in space. If you're confident, you will not fall. The road forms beneath your feet as your imagination takes you places arrived at by no other means. My confidence in the beauty of the music carries me through. Coltrane's Ascension [MCA, 29020] is the best example of freedom. Jugglers, tinkers, and fools try to play free; however, they will never succeed. It is reserved only for the masters.



I have referred to these techniques and devices as starting points, because they are what you should use to develop your improvisation. However, you must attempt to go beyond them. Your solo should be a work of art, not a technical display, which is the most difficult part to trying to create great work. Your work must be great, or it is nothing. There is no middle ground. A couple of years ago I toured Europe playing duos with saxophonists and other guitarists. We played in museums, coffee houses and anyplace where 20 to 30 people could fit into.

 

I took these gigs partly as a challenge, because I wanted to see if I could make music without a rhythm section behind me. About halfway through the first set on the first night, I realized that I had not gone to any of the beautiful places that music always takes me. Instead, I was struggling to come up with ideas and devices to make the music meaningful. I failed. Night after night I failed. Duke Ellington was right, when he stated the first rule of music in his song title "it Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing." I had forgetton this. I was trying to be interesting and clever, but instead I ended up playing bullshit.


Swing is based in confidence. It is the grace that you acquire after years of paying dues. Technically, it could be the emphasis placed on a note or part of a phrase that gives it movement; however, don't forget that technique is only a beginning. Swing is the dividing line between those who can play and those who can't. Although the term was first used by jazz musicians, all music can swing in its own way; it simply depends on who's playing it. Little Richard, Professor Longhair, Aaron Copland, Bo Diddley, Samuel Barber, and Sonny Terry all swing mightily without ever having played a note of jazz.



Music can be played at breakneck tempos, or as slow as the most painful blues. It can be composed or improvised, but swing it must. The swing that I use is the same swing that Benny Moten spoke of in the 1930s, that Bird and Dizzy used in the 50s, that Thelonious Monk turned inside out and Miles turned into a groove, and that Coltrane, Ornette, and Cecil Taylor set free. Goddammit, you really can't play without it!





 A rhythm section that plays static, highly arranged music behind a soloist doesn't add much, but one that swings and improvises brings excitement and surprise to the music. They make the music as wonderful as a first love and as devastating as death. I love to play with drummers who play loud, long, and strong.

 
 
Many years ago I had the good fortune of playing with Elvin Jones. I always pay a lot of attention to the way a drummer uses his ride i cymbal; Elvin plays it differently than anyone I've ever heard. His time is impeccable, but he doesn't use the standard repetitive rhythm on the ride: Instead, he accents his ceaseless snare and tom patterns with it. Elvin's high-hat cymbal does not always fall on the traditional second, and fourth beats; like his ride, it too is used to accent when necessary. With all of this coming at you at once, you hear and play differently. You swing or you die. When I played with Elvin for the first time, I was afraid that I would be swallowed up by the music coming out of the drums.



Eventually I got my nerve together and let myself go into the music. I started to develop melodies based on the rhythmic phrases. My confidence grew. I realized that I could not get lost, because I was in the hands of a master drummer and improviser. I had just met swing head-on for the first time. All great improvisers spend many years developing their own sound.




On the other hand, many guitarists buy their sound in little boxes, or, if they can afford it, in rack-mounted "stairways to heaven." If their individuality is ever questioned, they just point to their digital read-outs to show that their numbers are different from the other guy's in town. Ultimately, your sound is your hands. It may i take a lifetime for it to reach its fullness, but playing is a lifetime gig. if you're not totally serious, do yourself and the world a favor and just do weddings, or buy a can of mousse and become a 6-string gladiator from hell and make some money.



Imitating someone else's sound is unforgivable. I've known cats who began by trying to sound like their favorite players. Now 25 years later they are struggling to develop individuality--what a waste of time. No one remembers the imitators. Miles is Miles, Coltrane is Coltrane, and Sonny Sharrock is Sonny Sharrock. For better or worse, you are your own truth. Likewise, I hate to see soloists thinking onstage. At that point you should only be concerned with feeling. Trying to find places to insert your favorite licks is like painting by numbers: Always correct and always boring.



When I'm improvising, I don't want to spend time groping for notes, so I find all of the appropriate scales and modes within a few frets. By starting scales with your left-hand 3rd and 4th fingers, you can minimize your movement' up and down the fretboard. This allows you to concentrate on creating melodies instead of performing gymnastics. Remember that your improvisation must have feeling. It must swing and it must have beauty, be it the fragile beauty of a snowflake or the terrible beauty of an erupting volcano. Beauty--no matter how disturbing or how still--is always true. Don't be afraid to let go of the things you know. Defy your weaker, safer self. Create. Make music.