Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Bill Kautz - July 7, 2013


This Sunday will be my debut as a curator at The Racer Sessions and I am honored to have the opportunity! Being a part of this community has sparked my ability as an artist significantly. Racer has gotten me in touch with very empowering individuals that have the capacity to share the method of their craft and who genuinely want others to grow and succeed as improvisers. I have a lot of gratitude for this powerful place every Sunday. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to share my ideas and to see them come to life behind some very strong players.

This Sunday I will be joined by Neil Welch on soprano sax, Andrew J. Swanson on tenor sax, Simon Henneman on guitar, Karl Blau on bass and Evan Woodle on drums. Each of these players are grouped together for this venture because of their keen awareness and humanity in their playing and as individuals. This performance will be heavily based on the soul and the emotional response between players.

I have composed 5 melodies that will be played in their specific sequence as notated on paper. Each melody holds a different aura that is intended to guide the nature of the improvisation. The improvisation will be continuous with the group flowing into each new melody organically. When a player is compelled to introduce the new melody, they will do so on their own and the rest of the group will follow their lead. Referencing previous motives from earlier melodies is encouraged to establish reference and connection to the bigger picture of the piece.

My original motivators for this format are Don Cherry’s album Symphony for Improvisers and Terry Riley’s In C. Both compositions give power to the players during the performance and guarantee that no two interpretations of the piece will be the same. Don Cherry’s melody writing in particular continues to be one of the main guides in what I do as a writer.

For the improvisations this evening, I encourage those who play to focus on two concepts.

First, as an ensemble, rally around a very concise idea to frame your group’s improvisation. Treat it like a jazz head. Introduce it (with flexibility to gradually build it as a group since you’re coming in with no prepared melody) then ensure that the improvisations that follow relate to where you started. Then, wrap up your improvisation with the idea that started it all.

Second, maintain a high level of awareness and reflection during the improvisation on how your playing contributes to the greater whole of the group. If you find yourself carrying the torch too much for the group you are in, pull back and support someone else’s idea to come front and center. Likewise, if you’re always the support, but never the lead, pull out of the pack and assertively state your idea. Know that those around you will back what you’re trying to do.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you! Also, this Sunday is my mom’s birthday, so I’d like to dedicate my session to her!

-Bill Kautz