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Book Reviews

Music And The Creative Spirit

By Published: September 30, 2006

Peterson also doesn't judge. While listeners often make assumptions about musicians operating in different spheres, experience proves that most musicians rarely pass similar judgements. Consequently it makes total sense that Peterson's book should include more "accessible" or "mainstream" artists like saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Pat Martino alongside artists considered more on the outer edges like reedmen Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson—three players who intersect on a regular basis.

The bond that ties the artists Peterson has chosen is their distinct musical personalities and questing spirits, regardless of how they apply it. While fans often find themselves judging who is more or less creative or forward-thinking, what Music And The Creative Spirit reveals is that most musicians simply don't think in those terms. Despite his crusty response, Steve Lacy may well have said it best: "Jazz is a language, a way of life, a glorious history... in the music I make I'm not trying to express anything, I don't believe I'm that important. I think the work (the music) is of far greater interest. Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth doing. Nobody asked us to play like this. We all have to struggle to make a living at it. We play what and how we want to play, and only that, during a lifetime."

Not everyone may be as direct or as confrontational as Lacy, but in Music And The Creative Spirit Peterson has created a wonderfully unbiased exploration of what it is to make music. Because it's a series of interviews it's a book that you can read in dribs and drabs; but by the time you've read the last interview (arranged alphabetically as there's no specifically intentioned, linear arc) you'll have a greater insight into what that process is. And, perhaps, a more open mind to check out areas to which you've yet to be exposed. For that alone Music And The Creative Spirit is a resounding success.

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