Racer Sessions

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

Solo/Group Alternation - August 29th


Hello all,

There is no curator this week, so we will try something new:

While often analyzing my solo work, I’m struck by how much my own themes, improvisational models and techniques directly influence my group work. It seems almost inevitable that those who dedicate much of their artistic energy towards solo work should find that their idea of group improvisation may often follow a similar model. I see this as a natural bi-product of the task of deep, personal exploration. What we often lack, however, is enough distance from our own work to truly understand how the listener interprets our music.

In this regard, the musician Anthony Braxton certainly comes to mind. I find that his solo work not only influences his group projects, but has largely defined it. Whether visual representations become notation, be they traditional notes, diagrams or shapes, or more conceptual models based on aesthetic ideas, there is a clear similarity of approach from his solo to ensemble work. Other musicians I in which I have noticed this include: Roscoe Mitchell, Cecil Taylor, Sonny Rollins, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann.

Bearing this in mind, we will explore the concept of solo/group improvisation and the experience of artistic distance at Racer this week. Those inspired to do so will present a solo improvisation. A group of two or more players will then improvise a piece in some way modeled after the solo improvisation. I ask that the solo player not participate in the group interpreting his or her piece. In this way we can directly influence the creative process of our peers while maintaining a degree of distance from our own music. The group pieces need not mirror the solo improvisations, but they should be modeled after them in some fashion. There may be any number of conceptualizations that inspire the group work: texture, dynamic variation, time, feel, phrasing, etc.

Our task:

If you choose to participate as a solo player, you may prepare an improvisation this week or step into it cold in the moment. The group work of course will depend upon the momentary actions of the soloist.

We will follow this pattern the entire evening: solo, group, solo group, etc.

-Neil Welch