improvisation or invention?

Because I have played in many “jazz” settings, I am used to hearing musicians talk about ” soloing” or “improvising”. This is a kind of theme/variation structure, most often over chord changes.

Some very interesting music has been created that way. But I feel that the mainstream jazz approach is wearing on me. By those rules, chord changes are established in a predictable order, duration, and time. If you can count measures, you know when everyone is supposed to come back on the “head” the melody. It’s wearing on me. I am not surprised much any more. Drummers trade “4’s”… or “8’s” but why not “3’s”? “7’s”? “13’s”?

I am on a different journey right now. There are so many young players who are really burning on the changes, doing wonderful things. But i am moving away from song-based forms. Now, I am focusing on “Invention”, rather than “improvising”.

I want to give the performer’s more room , to build the music from the ground up. Thematic devices, focusing on timbre, short passages, instrumental specifics, rhythmic figures, spoken text, etc can give more choices for melodic development/creation.

As a pianist, I am interested in developing a musical ” habitat”, a landscape, and ecosystem where melodies can grow… influenced by the rocks, trees, rivers, wind, and food. The whole interdependence of musicians, their life-states,the current socio/political/emotional state of the times, the weather/time of year, all the intricacies of life moments, are what I call ” musical ecology”. It is constantly shifting. It is fascinating me more and more.

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