Playing for keeps…

The great Anthony Braxton said

Play or die!”

Ken Simon said:

You’re either distinct or you’re extinct

Beethoven said:

“To play a wrong note is INSIGNIFICANT; To play without PASSION is INEXCUSABLE!”

Commitment and dedication are the keys to making Music. What makes improvised music work is courage – the confidence that makes the necessary great leaps of faith possible. Yes, technical facility is also very important. We cannot have any impediments between out imagination and our execution. Still, a timid musician with all of the technique in the universe will never be mistaken for a great improviser.

The book “The Courage To Create” by Rollo May is a great source of inspiration for the improviser.


Playing it.jpg




6 thoughts on “Playing for keeps…

  1. Definitions are interesting in this case “FREE JAZZ” which I personally find a kind of oxymoron.First lets pull the two phrases apart a definition of “Free” has challenged
    every major, thinker, movement, and in general mundane everyday existence for centuries.
    And “JAZZ” as Ellington put it in an interview sometime in the 1930’s .” Jazz is a term used to
    discuss a form of music that was played years ago” . Needless to say putting the two terms together is a bit redundant to say the least, that being said let me state here that I’m speaking primarily of terminology . I personally find genre definitions inaccurate ,devisive ; stultifying. In
    my view , early New Orleans music, Fletcher Henderson ,Count Basie , Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor , Jimi Hendrix , the Cream , Peter Brotzman, etc all have a lineage of playing free and playing jazz so to speak. Albert Aylers concept was not so far removed from New Orleans polyphony and certainly Hendrix”s star spangled banner is really close to say Aylers “Bells”. Jimmy Lyons was certainly the logical evolution of Charlie Parker , but then so is Steve Coleman. Or how about Charlie Christian ? His innovations were as free as one could get , .I believe freedom is an internal drive and movement and this has always been the motor of the
    music named “jazz” . As an interesting aside in terms of definition Mr Wells qoutes someone as saying “music is the highest form of meditation”. But in the first sentence there is a typo so it
    reads” music is the highest form of mediation”. perhaps even more close to the bone.

    Steve Buchanan


    • Steve, you hit the nail on the head! Harmolodics is as relevant a development from the Music’s “…New Orleans polyphony…” origins as anything else called “Jazz” today. The word “Jazz” is a scary one because no one of any significance in the history of the Music allows themselves to be associated with it. At the same time, the general public goes into “blank stare” mode when i drop terms like, “expressionist silence sculpting” or simply, “Improvised Music”.

      Perhaps the best term to use is – still – Avant-Garde. This definition from The Collaborative International Dictionary of English says it all for me:

      The most advanced group of people in any field of endeavor,
      especially in literary and artistic work, usually
      characterized by new ideas and experimental techniques.

      So yeah, maybe i’ll drop the “Free Jazz” and stick with “Avant-Garde”. what do you think?


      • maybe but then Avant-Guard almost always has those post-modern connotations and is almost invariably associated soley with Western Caucasian Culture , its very tricky language ,for example what comes in your mind first if I ask you hey Jerome what kind of music do you play?
        the other problem especially with western culture is the deeply embedded racism which is in fact institutional ,which of course increase considerably the difficulties!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly ,and not only the music . if you think that the political left is still using quite obsolete dialectical terminology ,and also such inexact phrases such as fascism , capitalism,etc .it certainly is time for some new terminology! not that these phrases don’t have meaning per se , but rather that they are like using newtonian terminology to describe quantum reality . so yes we need some clever new poets who can pierce the clouds of the” bad weather media”


  2. I know that Braxton is as much a vital voice of the “Avant-Garde” as Boulez, Tudor, Stockhausen or anyone else. At the same time, the institutional racism inherent in that scene has kept him in the “Jazz Musician” box. As a (partial) result Anthony has devised his own genre, bolstered by its own language and institution. If you’re not hip to it, check out his Tri-Centric Foundation:


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