While at the center of an improvisational experience, one is immersed within a very sensitive and intuitive process. That experience could be a solo improvisation or a group performance. In the case of our Snow Leopard recording, a trio was playing an agreed-upon loose arrangement. We started with an introduction, followed by the melody, then everyone took a solo, and then the head and maybe an outro or coda.
What proceeded out of that loose form arose from jazz being such a fluid art built from the unknown and unexpected. In the moment of playing there are so many things that are occurring between each member of a band.
In our session, I heard something from George. A phrase or just a reaction from him to something I played. Perhaps I heard a break from Jack, some kind of snare drum or bass drum hit. All that made an impression on me because I was listening so intently to them. One hundred percent.
I was not listening to what I was playing because I had already heard what I was going to play a nanosecond before. So, I could grab anything I heard from Jack and George and use it in my own playing without any difficulty.
That left me with a wonderful opportunity to hear what they were playing and comfortably play within the moment. I heard everything as part of the whole. It was a state where I was undistracted as both the performer and listener.
This intuitive process provides me and anyone else able to do this with a particular kind of freedom during recording or playing live. It allows one the freedom to shape the music in the moment and in a compositional way, even if that means drastically changing the arrangement as we did with The Snow Leopard.
This level of synchronicity doesn’t always happen but when it does, you must be prepared musically in terms of experience, knowledge, and ear. You must be ready to jump into it.
But it requires a certain control of your emotions.