WHAT IMPROVISING MUSICIANS DO

by William Hooker

It is my firm belief that the task of the musician in the playing of improvised music is to anchor a higher level of existence on the material plane. This does not mean to say that this happens, or that this view is shared by other composers, players, and colleagues. There are, of course, more superficial views which address themselves to money, fame, prestige, women/men, and power. These views should not be dismissed—for these people also play music, write compositions, do interviews, make records, and (indeed) cause the direction of improvised music to go a certain way. But, my alternative view still stands. I feel that when one is making music—it is the task of the musician to create what flows on a higher level of life-thought and idea. I believe this abstraction is acknowledged by most musicians who see each other—and, ultimately respect each other, just because we are musicians. This is probably an unwritten code of thought in the creative field. It is one which I seem to realize wherever I go—amongst friends and enemies alike. We are neither promoters or entrepreneurs first—we are artists with that unique talent to improvise and create music on the spot. This unites us. The other territorial boundaries separate us. But, and I say this uncategorically--the first goal is in the bringing down from some higher place—an energy, a music—which exists on a realm outside of the everyday, ordinary drudgery of life. It is the realization of this that produces the crises. In coming down—the music is used, abused, transferred and transformed—not always toward higher levels. And this music is (mostly) not heard by the human beings meant to receive its message.


 SOURCE: Hooker, William. "Jazz Ideology in the 80s and Beyond ", New Observations, no. 65, March 1989, pp. 16-17. [Special issue on this theme.] This quote comes from p. 16.


Black Studies, Music, America vs Europe


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