Improvisation in Jazz.
by Bill Evans
There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stoke will destroy the line or break trough the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, tat of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hand in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.
The resulting pictures lack of the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation.
This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflection, I believe, has prompted the evolution of extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician.
Group improvisation is a further challenge. Aside from the weighty technical problem of collective coherent thinking, there is the very human, even social need for sympathy from all members to bend for the common result. This most difficult problem, I think, is beautifully met and solved on this recording.
As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time. Miles Davis presents here frameworks wich are exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with a sure reference to the primary conception.
Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore, you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances. The group had never played these pieces prior to the recordings and I think without the exception of the first complete performance of each was a “take”.
Although it is not uncommon for a jazz musician to be expected to improvise on new material at a recording session, the character of these pieces represent a particular challenge.