My evolving approach to improvisation and composition has been a process of “unschooling.” I don’t know what else to call it. Here I’ll try to explain…

I spent so much of my time studying harmony and worked diligently to understand it from multiple perspectives. Indeed, there remains a lot more to study. No one could possibly finish that task.

However, the music that speaks to me deeply is not harmonically complex. It is more earthy, more soulful, more spontaneous than we usually associate with complex music.

I also noticed that when confronted with complex chords in music musicians tend to bury their noses in the printed music and play less emotionally.

Then comes trumpeter Woody Shaw with the answer.

His music almost always sounds organic and soulful. Yet his tunes have harmonic complexity and an incredibly natural emotional curve. I really admire his work.

Crafting tunes that have all these attributes has been my goal of late. My latest recording, Carswell, comes close but there’s a lot more work to do. Meanwhile, you’ll find me working on unschooling my craft and getting to it.

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