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Either/Or (No More)

By Published: February 28, 2010
Paradoxically, it was only after I stopped treating improvisation as something that has to happen that I began to figure out how to harness it effectively and integrate it into the big picture. I developed a keen appreciation for the various ways in which improvisers can be guided, nudged or prodded into coming up with ideas that will advance the musical narrative or steered back on track when they are on the verge of taking the entire piece off the rails. It starts with musicians who are more interested in storytelling than showboating. But as a composer, it's up to me to write music that will draw out those aspects of an improviser's identity that I need in order to tell the kind of story I want to tell. When it works, the composition shapes the improvisation and the improvisation completes the composition and no forced choice can pry them apart.

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