“I have nothing to say/ and I am saying it/ and that is poetry/ as I need it.”
Lecture on Nothing” (1949)
There’s something about improvising that involves a lack of reflection, letting whatever happens stand as the finished product. It makes it impossible to worry about it, you can’t go back. You can do it several times, and decide which time you couldn’t go back came out the best, and put it on a recording…that’s the extent of your control. I can take years to finish a 12 bar tune, leaving it and coming back to it several times in a quest to unlock the “riddle” of the initial idea, only to throw it away again, yet an improvisation is a complete piece of music in the time it takes to play it because that is the agreement made between the musicians, and between the musicians and the audience. Decisions are the thing I find most difficult, and so looking over two hundred photographs…of me…is quite a painful process.
I think I’ve found some that are suitable for “promotional use”, i.e I am not TOO grumpy (like email, photos don’t quite get across the humour of grumpiness somehow). Ideally, I would like a grumpy picture with some kind of bubble coming out of my mouth that says “this is just how I look, I’m not upset”. But this is all part of being in control of one’s own “product”, ensuring the viewer gets the right message instantaneously, that you can “match” it to an aesthetic, an ethos. Some people are brilliant in this, and it’s an art form in itself; I realise I have pretty much spent my whole career avoiding the whole issue, hiding behind the sideman role (which I love and enjoy enormously). But I guess it’s time to have a go at making a statement. This will be formed through lots of small decisions that are musical and non musical, and I’m quite enjoying the novelty of it all. Having only really thought about how notes, sounds and people work together I’m now thinking about what “I” am trying to “say”. And whether I have picked the right font.