Music takes many forms for many reasons. We need to decide what music we are going to make and for what reason. I think that for pretty much every musician, there is always more than one kind of music for them and more than one reason to play music. Knowing when to play what music is important, especially for a creative or avant-garde musician. Music can be alienating and music can be intellectual. There is a time to make music that is artistic and intellectual (and maybe perhaps a little self indulgent) and there is a time to play with the audience in mind. Music can be enjoyable to the player and enjoyable to the audience. Music can be a product, a science, a philosophy, a form of psychology and of course music can be art.
To me there is something especially attractive about jazz music – and I mean the swinging/American songbook/improvisation kind of jazz. Jazz is intellectual and complex. Jazz requires thought and discipline. Jazz is also popular and accessible. Jazz is so compressed that I find listening to large amounts of it tunes my ears to the fine details of music (and sound). This makes my experience of other kinds of music that are maybe not as ‘fine’ in their timbre (such as rock and metal) so much more enjoyable. Jazz performance is unlike any other kind of music. Jazz harmony, as I stand with it now, is the most complex form of harmony. I beg someone to contest this point. Maybe serial (or post-serial) harmony is more complex, but does harmony become more complex by analysing it in more ways? Jazz harmony has as many functional parameters as any other and is athletically more complex than anything I’ve come across to date, if I may speak so generally. This is not to mention jazz melody.
My approach now is to have a core foundation of what my music is. For me this is the jazz piano trio that plays jazz in a more or less traditional (but personnel) style. The trio is what inspired me to play music in the first place. Jazz is the music that is my reason for playing music. The lesser pressing needs for musical expression will sit to the side of the piano trio. These projects as I stand today are: solo piano improvisation, a 7 or 8 piece ensemble (with piano trio plus horns) that plays fully composed ‘hybrid’ music, improvising duos and a commercial band that I am yet to invest in. I understand now that the opportunity to make ‘high art’ is a rare one, and is for a reason. Being a musician is a career and a career involves many different tasks.