>>"I dunno, I'd have to agree with Joel that the very premise of a handful
>>of the most feted stars of new electronic music taking a dilettante's
>>whirl at improvisation is arrogant and distasteful. Most of the accounts
>>of the show seem to bely that improv (free or otherwise) is a craft that
>>you have to practice at (a lot) to be any good at; otherwise you end up
>>hitting your mark purely by chance."
What I've always appreciated about free-improv is that it undermines and
doesn't need to play up to or legitimize itself as a craft, as science, in
the face of a hierarchical musical establishment that considers 'should
pianists perform with or without the score' to be a vexing and vital
question; that what really irks and threatens people about free-improv is
that by definition, anyone can in fact do it. Granted I tend to appreciate
it in some more than others, notice that some people are thinking more than
others--but a priori, I don't care about your credentials, or give value to
a model that equates how much time you've spent woodshedding and who you've
performed with to how worthy your noise is. I could give a rat's ass,
outside of context anyway, whether or not someone can play a blues with
discrete, attractive phrasing around the cycle of fifths, riffing on a given
recorded Coltrane solo in eight bars. Neither am I more impressed with a
noise artist because in his program it notes that he's studied composition
at Berkeley and was a Messiaen scholar--very like saying Rothko's late work
was worthy of appreciation because we've unearthed some school-age charcoal
still-lives that show he had the skill to pastiche Vermeer.
I guess my point in reaction to the statement above is that
* Free-improv is not a genre or craft with a syntax to be mastered.
That having been said, I would probably share your cynicism before-hand if
what I was to hear was indeed a "dilettante's whirl at improvisation"...but
I think what's necessary for successful free-improv tends to be more akin to
'disposition' and 'sensitivity' rather than muscle, ear, & chop-training
usually associated with scholastic jazz & post-jazz improv.
Maybe you're not arguing that.