I mostly do play solo, not because I think one should always try the hard way or because I don´t want to play with others but because it unfolded like that, maybe also because I am a late bloomer.
Over the last years, slowly and little by little, a counterpart took shape, the possibilities of a dialog while playing alone flower out.
They are not yet consciously retrievable but the need for exchange grows. In that process the parameters are as different as exciting: For example the play with noises on the instrument allows one to imitate, ironize and annotate gestures, mimics and postures during conversations; pauses enable one to formulate longer thoughts or even chains of ideas and try out answers, in these pauses, or to spin them forth; »the calling« on things and rooms also advocates a dialog, namely the very one with the aforesaid things and rooms but also the one with oneself since, while playing, the thought of the other, more familiar things and rooms automatically evokes a comparison: how does the playing change by dint of the new environment?
The things and rooms grow more and more lively.
It would be nice to organize a concert in two different locations, and for them, so that the spectators have to »travel« and compositions could be played again in the respectively new ambience.
For wind instruments, especially saxophones, the tone certainly is something like the heart of expression. As when a sculptor for example sits in front of a huge log, there are plenty of possibilities.
My log, that is an overdimensionally open mouthpiece. Working on it starts again and again every day, it stays built up in front of me, I have to carry it around first when I want to move, till it gradually becomes lighter and lighter, and rounder too. So that from time to time arises a fat, big tone, rich in harmonics, a tone letting you think that the soprano sax possibly might be a lower instrument. The saxophone which looked at from a purely physical perspective can be played the fastest because the air-route is the shortest, wakens the thought: The hardest is to play slowly and avoid ornaments.
The bigger and richer the tone, the more complete the limitation. Looked at technically it´s a handicap, a hindrance, it costs energy and renders the handling of the instrument more difficult.
This limitation shapes the starting-point. Beckett once wrote: when of the unnumerable attitudes adopted unthinkingly by the normal man all are precluded but two or three, then these are enhenced... and... possessed of unsuspected delights. He does not thereby praise the cripplelike in itself but points out how fascinating the unfolding of the detail can be.
In a spiritual sense you can think it out even further: For the zen-priests of 18th century Japan who were praying with the shakuhachi flute - without words, they just played -, the tone was the Way. They were the only ones allowed to play this instrument and once you »found« the tone, you were considered to be enlightened.
Expressed more prosaically: The search - thought of from the tone - aims for the technical analogon of the intellectual, ideal and emotional bounds. When there is something like technical perfection in the domain of improvised music, it is purely individual, that means chance and realization fall into one.
Ingredients of both parameters are in my case: the meditative, disposedness for the whimsical and the absurd, and the lust for repetition.
The meditative creates structure, life is bizarre and the repetitions »clean«, clear the way, allow a wide view, and beauty.
I like it when every single tone is meant as it´s played, no matter where: in the theme through the way it´s performed, in the improvisational part through the content; that is to say a compositional task which can never be fulfilled. On one hand you´d lose the charm once you wrote it down, on the other hand the wish for validness is a priori foredoomed, a lost battle, for you can´t improvise in a perfect way, that would be a paradox. Others have already rendered homage to the uplifting aesthetic of failure. For it can be really satisfying to finally not get one´s act together; and to sense at the same time that it does not matter and that because it doesn´t you dared to bend into it, the curve, and tabbed the full potential and didn´t have to be careful, and, while listening, that you only then - that is to say retrospectively - come to understand: the statement had been a spontaneous one, was not composed. Written down, it would have been a »mistake«.
But this way it doesn´t matter, because it was improvised. So you need the wish to compose without really managing. The way Mal Waldron tried to. Or Paul Desmond, where you hear the melody the whole time but coevally it´s totally abstract though in a spatial sense, to wit, real as architecture.
I really enjoy it when soli communicate a presence of mind. The conditions are: either the improvisation is really open, without any presuppositions at least as to the basic approach concerns or the material is really well hung.
My hope: the material that modernity provided is not yet consumed or exploited entirely, at least as regards improvisation.
The exploration of the non-expressive in jazz has just begun. The challenge to try lines, which sound by trend abstract or in parts even atonal, with the help of a normal major scale, just with such a simple, brash banal presetting, that is a field in which many still could work without getting into each others way. Besides, the point is to know the scales so that they can sound strange in a »natural« way. This special implementation of the modal concept is by no means exhausted yet.
The non-expressive doesn´t necessarily imply the renunciation of melody. I rather believe, that it, the melody needs to be protected whereupon you admittedly have to face the danger that it may become a fenced in garden gnome. Feeling committed in this regard to the motto »less is more« reduces this danger, and the view upon the history of a neglect, for the melody - during the last 250 years and in our culture area - still was understood rather as bare surface of the harmonical structure. Thereby it is undoubtedly the heart of music, the source for the other parameters - and manages thoroughly to elude the claws of the so called cultural industry. Modernity´s fear of kitsch, does it not now lack of any foundation? Necessary preconditions for this sovereignty and autonomy plus their protection at the same time are maybe: primitive elements like repetition and return (refering to a traditional three part structure) get strenghtened and »advanced« elements like contrast and the focusing upon a climax get diminshed. Those build a protective cocoon around the romantic inside, these help to circumnavigate the pathos. Reduction and »primitivity« are by no means to be equated with naivety.
Texts are always near by and/or present: while composing, while thinking about titles and also while playing, during the pauses. To put them in a musical context rescues one from the compulsion to interpret them, to follow slavishly their semantic. The music fragments and transcends them in equal measure, takes them under its wing.
While they are present, I strive to play in such a way that there will be enough space for them in any case, that it won´t get too cramped.
They nearly always come into existence after the piece is written, that is to say, the music is there first. While I play the theme, I think about what it expresses, that can be a long haul. When I have discovered a direction, I try out: I choose the notion or word out of the three languages available to me, German, English or French checking, if the sound, the accuracy or on the contrary the diversity of meanings comes as close as possible to my own conception. English is often the most bald, the sound fits, like for example in Sounder For The Way, where it helps carry the meaning of sounder. German sometimes appeals to me through the diversity of connotations, for example Die Vorstellung, which means the introduction - to introduce somebody -, the performance - in theater, in a circus etc. - and the imagination, the mental image, so that in the end you have a complex structure. And in French it is the sound in itself which can be attractive and/or elegant.