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Music and the Creative Spirit

Peter Brotzmann Chicago Tentet: Bridging the Future with the Past

By Published: February 5, 2009
KV: I could be wrong but I think part of what Lytton was talking about was voicing his frustration over certain people having a defined thing that they do and then they stop the searching process. And I would say that from my point of view, the work that you have done Peter is evolving all of the time and looking for results is like seeing something that hasn't been done or moving to another place. And I think that part of what Paul is talking about is the frustration of people abandoning the search and maybe having an idea in mind and moving towards it; and just saying that this is the thing that I do.

PB: I don't want to give the wrong impression but maybe what annoys Paul is that a lot of younger people today already start thinking about the result, then produce it, which is the way that maybe rock music is being produced. But I don't think it has a place in our music.

MG: This is completely true. It's really a slow process to get closer and closer to the result.

PB: It's a lifelong search and process of trying.

MG: Sometimes you can acquire the feeling of what Peter is talking about and maybe it's even good. But for me, it's not just about the process. That would be stupid because it would be to say that I am not interested in form and I'm really interested in form when it comes to improvisation.

JM: I'm interested in form too and I'm looking at this because this is the way I try and see things. This is a form and look what's going on in there (looking at an awkward oblong water glass.) You can move it around and it can definitely form something to work towards and I like that kind of fluidity.

PB:Yes, but that's that dialectic thing of what we call in the German language, "form und inhalt." That means the form and the content, which has to come together and that is what all art is about in a way. It's very simple.

Paal Nilssen-Love joins the discussion.

LP: With improvisation, you create something that is very much alive and then it's gone. Do you ever feel a sense of loss after performing a piece?

MG: For me, it's a process that is never done and it's never going to be finished. When it is done, there becomes a new starting point but the music is never done.

KV: There are times when I feel like I have failed at getting to the music and if something in my mind isn't successful, then I would say that I do feel a sense of loss. I feel like the opportunity is gone, or there was a chance to do something and I failed. As Mats was saying, after a concert is over, I don't feel a loss - ever! The only loss I feel is when the music fails and that chance won't ever happen again.

I definitely feel as if a struggle is involved and I think that everyone that I work with has a very strong sense of self-awareness and with that, a self-expectation about realizing something that is worthwhile. We can succeed or fail to varying degrees from night to night and for me personally, that can be painful. It's very much a reality in the process of either a live performance or in a recording situation.

There is a risk of failure involved anytime that we play and I think that that is a central part of the process, because if the sense of taking a chance and risk gets removed, then the music becomes very much dead. It's like an ongoing process of pushing yourself to a point of where you may fail because of the need to find out what Joe said earlier, of what can't I do or what can I do? That's a very intense process.

PB: It has to be.

MG: If you are not willing to take a risk, the music will be empty and flat and then you might as well get rid of the music.

KV: It has become clearer and clearer to me that there is no separation between who you are as a person and what you play as a musician. And the way that you care about the way you live and the way you deal with the music are not separable. That means that it can be painful. Just like being alive can be painful. You just cannot separate those things. And I think that some of the most remarkable music or art that I have experienced is an intense expression of all kinds of things simultaneously; because it's an expression of these people, in that time, in that moment, in a real and true way.

If you go back and listen to some of the older records with people like Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
, they always sound new because there is so much in that music and I think that's what we are striving to do. We want to make music that is true, that is an expression of us now, along with the things that we deal with, and that can be painful but it can also be joyful.

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