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...because the music has to be played....


There’s nothing like lying on your back for a couple of days to start you thinking….My fever has abated a bit, and my cough doesn’t let me practice or sleep, or help Tim at the suddenlyLISTEN Workshop tonight, my epic novel is finished (reading, not writing) so I sort of lounge and begin to write. I just visited the myspace site of Ellwood Epps. Ellwood, is on his way to the east to play some concerts, in Fredericton NB and Halifax, presented largely by Joel Leblanc from Fredericton, but under the banner of Circuit (a national group dedicated to creating a touring network for Canadian creative musicians). Ellwood is one of the founding members of Circuit and presents zillions of concerts a year in his loft space L’Envers in Montreal. Today I wandered to Ellwood’s Myspace site. There I found some weird and appealing music, and really learned a lot about this guy Ellwood. I recognized something in his lovely essay (disguised as a bio) that I see in all my friends that play creative music. They do it not out of ambition, or the money, or a search for celebrity. They do it “….because the music needs to be played…”. Ken Aldcroft, (who I’ve written about in this blog), first said that to me when I asked why he was driving from Toronto to Nova Scotia in a rented car, to play 2 shows and do a workshop or two, with no funding and minimal fees. I thought it was nuts, and he completely turned my head around! Because the music needs to be played – there can’t be a better reason. Ellwood Epps most wonderfully says the same thing, when writes: To do this music is for me not unlike deciding to become a monk or nun. It's something you do because you need to do it. The desire comes from deep down, and its undeniable nature can mean many sacrifices during this lifetime. There are long days being behind on the rent, mending old clothes, and opening arts council rejection letters (5 years without a grant for my work, WTF?!). And then a few times a week I get in front of some people with my horn and the music is just there, no problem, it’s there, absolutely welcoming, a complete and unlimited universe. During this time there is no asking why. That’s what we all feel, that’s the beauty of this music it’s just there, no problem. And we all need to play it for the same reason. Now I don’t pretend to speak for anybody but myself sLogging away here, but I play it for that reason exactly. It’s just there, no problem. So much of the music that I’m fortunate enough to make for my living, is a problem! (Classical music represents some real problems: History, style, technical requirements, great past performances, audience expectations, performer expectations, pressure - both self and externally imposed, culture, and many more! And that is part of the fun and challenge of it for sure.) But improvised music is a bit different: “it’s there, no problem, it’s there, absolutely welcoming, a complete and unlimited universe.” All of the problems are stripped away and we are left with only listening and sound. Listening and sound, and collaboration and cooperation and experience and many more fine points, but mostly listening and sound! An unlimited universe. And it needs to be played. It’s not very popular; most people listen to it suspiciously, (out of the corner of their ears). But it needs to be played. Why? Mostly it’s just amazing what can happen when great musicians get together to share listening and sound! It’s humanity at work I believe. Exploratory music is the work of a few hardworking artists like Ken Aldcroft, Ellwood Epps, and others, playing at any cost. They deserve our respect for that alone, but mostly we should listen because the art is real and honest. Let’s face it, there’s no other reason to invest so much! Please come and hear what we create: Ellwood Epps and Halifax Improvisers Wednesday, October 20 at 8pm 1313 Hollis Street, Halifax $10 and $5


Oct 4, 2010 at 21:34

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