Are you are looking to innovate, change your direction, or just try something new?
Musicians have much to share with us about improvising.
Music can often just float in the background of our lives.
At their very best, though, musicians can become harbingers of what will come.
If you are looking for a new direction, listen to Miles Davis’s album “Kind of Blue.”
And just consider where he was at the time.
It was in the late spring of 1959, when he was getting ready to record his next album – just before the ‘60’s became “The ‘60’s.”
With his talented ensemble, who had just created several Grammy winning, platinum albums in a row, he had taken bebop to heightened and accelerated speeds.
The question in the air was, “How much faster can he possibly go?”
Could he break the sound barrier?
What would he do next?
Instead of answering that question, Miles Davis stepped back and reflected.
He just paused for a moment.
Then he decided to go in the opposite direction.
He changed everything that was going on in music at the time.
He slowed it down. Way down.
On his album “Kind of Blue,” which many now regard as jazz’s greatest album, he allowed himself, and the masterful musicians with whom he surrounded himself, to collaborate and fill in the spaces in a style that was expansive, reflective, romantic, new, and cool.
Miles Davis wrote, inspired, and played his trumpet evocatively with Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, Jimmy Cobb on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, and John Coltrane and “Cannonball” Adderley on saxophones.
Undoubtedly, part of his message is to surround yourself with those who reflect on you in the very best way possible.
Then allow explore the depths of you souls.
Still, just consider for a moment, where does such improvising come from?
Is it between your head and your heart?
Is it connecting with someone in another realm?
In his song “So What?” Miles Davis provided his group with just two notes.
From there, together, they filled in the void.
And history was made.
When I asked my friend Russel Ferrara, a classical guitarist, how he, as an artist and performer, would describe improvisation, he shared, “It’s the ability to take a pre-determined set of ideas and make something new from them. And then use that same set of ideas or structural limitations to make something new each and every time you show up.”
To make something new from a pre-determined set of ideas.
In these rapidly changing and often challenging times, having the confidence in yourself and the belief in those around you to improvise can make all the difference in the world.
If you want to innovate, open yourself up to expressing new ideas, or change your direction – inspire yourself by listening to musicians who are on the cutting edge.
Sure, a score or a plan can move you in the right direction.
But if you are no longer interested in just repeating the same thing over and over again – if you want to try something new, then listen with your heart.
The change you are seeking can happen in a heartbeat.