by Dave Segal
on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Wall of Sound's Jeffery Taylor recently brought to my attention this essay by the late, great, innovative guitarist Sonny Sharrock on improvisation. It's full of advice and knowledge that may help aspiring players. Read the whole thing here. Below are some choice quotes.
Music can be played at breakneck tempos, or as slow as the most painful blues. It can be composed or improvised, but swing it must. The swing that I use is the same swing that Benny Moten spoke of in the 1930s, that Bird and Dizzy used in the 50s, that Thelonious Monk turned inside out and Miles turned into a groove, and that Coltrane, Ornette, and Cecil Taylor set free. Goddammit, you really can't play without it!
Ultimately, your sound is your hands. It may take a lifetime for it to reach its fullness, but playing is a lifetime gig. If you're not totally serious, do yourself and the world a favor and just do weddings, or buy a can of mousse and become a 6-string gladiator from hell and make some money.
Remember that your improvisation must have feeling. It must swing and it must have beauty, be it the fragile beauty of a snowflake or the terrible beauty of an erupting volcano. Beauty—no matter how disturbing or how still—is always true. Don't be afraid to let go of the things you know.