As a two-time alumnus of the International Jazz and Creative Music Workshop, it was an honor to be invited to return as faculty in residence for 2018!  I had the opportunity to speak on some things that mean quite a bit to me as a musician and as a general passenger on this planet—the complex cultural roots of the electric guitar, the benefits of restorative yoga for working musicians, and the idea of improvisation as a social structure.

I love guitar solos!  But in the world of jazz, I believe the emphasis on the soloist has pushed the music to a level of refinement that has the danger of losing sight of the thing that matters most to me—the deep, intuitive connection between a collective of human beings.  There are a lot of ways to communicate new things in an ensemble without focusing exclusively on ‘making the changes’.  Introducing an ensemble of emerging professionals to some of these concepts by sharing my conceptual work with them was about as challenging and rewarding as it gets.

This music is not for the faint of heart.  It was an honor to watch a group of young players open up to the challenge.

Backstage at the Banff Centre! Clockwise from left to right: Jen Shyu, Tyshawn Sorey, Rich Brown, Jason Palmer, myself, Vijay Iyer and Okkyung Lee.
Faculty concert at the Banff Centre: Vijay Iyer, Okkyung Lee, Rich Brown, Jen Shyu, Val Jeanty, Jason Palmer, Tyshawn Sorey, me.

I have known Vijay for almost 15 years now but this is the first time we had the opportunity to share the stage.  The experience was memorable.  The following excerpt from the faculty concert begins with a composition of Jen Shyu’s, dovetails into one of Vijay’s, and ends with Made to Be Broken, the closing track from my 2014 Tzadik release with the Suite Unraveling.

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