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Why I Believe the Multiplicity cd is unique

Tuesday was the release date for my latest cd, a collaboration with sarodist Anupam Shobhakar. We call our group Multiplicity, and the name of the cd is Leave the Door Open. 

There have been some great responses so far.  However, after reading some of the responses I felt compelled to offer my own insight– as an insider– about what really makes this album unique.  Sure my opinion is biased but this has been a fascinating 3 year journey. Perhaps these thoughts will allow the listener a more clear view of our goals and process. (more…)

Remembering Jim Hall

Guitarist Joel Harrison reflects on a true original

This article appears on the Jazz Times website

Jim Hall was a composer first, guitar player second. I believe he looked at improvising as composition. Many do, of course, but with Jim it was evident all the time. His playing was thoughtful without being cerebral, organized without being restrictive, melodic and yet elliptical and surprising, sometimes romantic but never sentimental. He had a keen sense of humor in his playing and writing, and in his life. (more…)

Composition Blog #5: Using Indian modes to write jazz pieces, and suggest new harmonic pathways.

You Bring the Rain Composition Blog #5

Using Indian modes to write jazz pieces, and suggest new harmonic pathways.

Many years ago I began what could be described as a somewhat random study of Indian music. I never was a serious student as a player, as I never intended to perform classical recitals, but along the way I recognized a gold mine of information. One of the principal ways that I have tried to incorporate what I have learned is through the use of unusual modes. (Note that for our purposes I am using the term “mode” not raga. Why? Because a mode is, as it were, a blank slate, to be used in any way you wish. Ragas develop from modes, and each has its peculiarities, its primary note (vadi), its secondary note (samvadi), and various characteristic phrases that give it definition of form and feeling. A mode, on the other hand, represents raw material. (more…)

Subvert expectation

The element of Surprise!

The element of surprise in music is paramount. You never want the listener to feel that they always know what’s coming next. Pop music is most often based on fulfilling expectations not to mention fantasy. This is why so little of it contains the requisite mystery that attracts me to deeper art. Great Jazz and classical music are most powerful when the listener’s expectations are sometimes thwarted, so that the journey always feels new. Here are some practical ways to do that: (more…)

Composition Post #2: Respecting the 4 phases of your work

There are different phases in the creative process, and each of them must be respected for their unique qualities; the generative phase, the assembly phase, development, and the editing phase.

1. When you are generating ideas for a piece, NOTHING should come in the way. All ideas are welcome, and critical faculties should be turned on very low, if at all. This is a time of flow, excitement, emotion, the time where if you’re lucky, you ‘re in touch with the deepest parts of yourself. You could label this phase “inspiration”, but to me that word lacks the gravitas and subtlety of these precious moments, where you are knocking about the recesses of your being, opening an attic door, pulling away the cobwebs to see what’s there. (more…)