free improvisation

Free improvisation is a genre of music with a self-explanatory name.  Nothing is planned in advance, and the performers create the music on the spot by responding to what the others are doing in that moment.

The key fiffdimension album in this genre is in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway a collection of improvised Simon O'Rorkeinstrumental music with some of the musicians in that scene, from the point of view of my own attempts as an untrained outsider to fit in with these advanced jazz players – including Jeff Henderson, Blair Latham , Paul Winstanley, Dan Beban, Julie Bevan and more.

It was recorded in Wellington in two halves, in 1999

Simon O’Rorke – percussion

Paul Winstanley – synth bass
Blair Latham – alto sax
Jeff Henderson – clarinet
Bridget Kelly – tenor sax
Dan Beban – electric guitar
Dave Edwards – electric and acoustic guitars

and 2014, to show an evolution.

Simon O’Rorke – synthesisers

Blair Latham –  bass clarinet
Julie Bevan – acoustic guitar
Michael Hall – alto sax
Chris Prosser – violin
Dave Edwards – bass, electronics, tenor sax

This kind of free improvisation differs from that of The Winter, which is a regular trio with its own particular flavour, and the more structured improvisation (and regular beat) of The Electricka Zoo and Ascension Band.

978-1-877448-59-1Its historical roots are in the free jazz of the 1960s, but it’s since expanded to include influences from outside the jazz tradition entirely (just as well since I don’t have proper jazz chops).  Often there may no regular beat and no key signatures or conventional melody – hence “the non-idiomatic idiom”.

A few years ago I wrote a chapter of Jazz Aotearoa, a book about New Zealand jazz music history, discussing the free improvisation and avant-garde jazz scene in Wellington at the turn of the millennium. 

I’ve also dabbled with free improvisation at other times, including playing at Vitamin S events in Auckland

and with various one-off spontaneous groups in Wellington and elsewhere

At other times I’ve used free improvisations as raw material, which has been edited and multitracked into retrospective compositions – not so much cheating as a whole other topic…