I just got back from the Rethinking Jazz Cultures conference (April 11-14) at Media City, Salford, which was organized by the project team involved in the Rhythm Changes research project (www.rhythmchanges.net). On Friday afternoon (12 April), I chaired a session on improvisation that developed some of the conversations we had at last year’s thinking with jazz symposium atLJF. Panel members again included pianist Adam Fairhall (http://www.adamfairhall.co.uk) and saxophonist Christophe de Bezenac (http://www.rhythmchanges.net/the-team/christophe-de-bezenac), but this time I invited Frank Griffith (http://www.frankgriffith.co.uk) to join us, who lectures in jazz studies at Brunel University in London (Kathy Dyson was unable to make the event). The room was packed and we had a lively debate about everything from the mechanics of performance (pianist Matthew Bourne had some fascinating examples of being all tied up in knots trying to get from one sound to the next) to the role of transcendental meditation in improvisation. I started the session by showing a clip from a Bill Cosby interview from the early 1970s (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zn-P0ZH3_M), and asked the panellists, and the audience members, to use Cosby’s comments to think about what it means to become an improvising musician.
Tell us what you think the hardest part of improvising is?
Chair, LJF Board