I give a workshop for all instrument that deals with getting to what I would call, retrieving purposeful improvisation. This workshop looks at the combined forces of rhythm, most particularly polyrhythm, sonic manipulation and reduction, to enliven interplay within a group situation.
Those are some of the themes I have been gravitating towards when I workshop with my group and when I am teaching students.This workshop tries to avert the pitfall of the auto pilot solo tendencies by manipulating these multipule elements during soloing and performing a melody.
I take the participants through a series of exercises that promote free association and bring the players more into the consciousness of dialogue with a rhythm section. Thus avoiding a static drums beat over a static series of preconceived ideas or gymnastic tricks.
We break up this willing complicity with a little sensitivity training as well. Instead of putting more notes in the exchange, I try to get the player to establish an idea, then go through a cycle, reducing that idea down to fewer parts of the puzzle each time around. This training encourages disciple and also shows how playing less can be an effective direction in creating unique opportunities for meaningful interplay as a soloist leading a rhythm section.
On the sensitivity training side, I take the players through a series of exercises were we place a consciousness on listening to ones own playing with the ear of an outsider (one in the audience).
This is a mental training to separate the stages of hearing and to suggest separating the stages of emotions, to detect different stages of emotion that one may go through during a solo and identify how to keep a solo or melodic verse alive and vibrant.
I mean there is a strong visual image that can trigger you into some more interesting tonal territory To be the observer of emotions or the provocateur.
There are also visual techniques that we use to open up the mind and soul, imagining the imagination as a with the ablities to adjust and tune into subtle degrees of phrasing, dynamics, dramatic use of space and sonic expression. This machine imagery is effected by leaving the player free to reinvent his/her self and superimpose another identity on the journey of discovering ones capabilities.
I use the Butch Morris technique of conduction to direct the players through ensemble passages and in so doing, by the end of a workshop, we achieve a complete original work, embedded with the techniques of polyrhythm, sonic purpose and reduction.
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