Jazz is not the only art form to contain improvisation—far from it. The principles of free association can be found across the arts, as well as in athletics and, significantly, the psychoanalytic process. But in jazz the discipline of improvisation is developed to a very high level. Far from a casual, occasional exercise, improvisation in jazz is something that beginning players struggle to master, and that professionals spend their lives honing, refining, and transforming. To this day, musicians study the recorded improvisations of such masters as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Herbie Hancock in order to gain insights and inspiration.
This event is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
Dr. Lewis Porter will explore jazz improvisation with Mike Rabinowitz, one of the few bassoonists in jazz. The presentation will consist of performances of improvised pieces, with some room for discussion in between. For each piece, the performers will explain the basis of the improvisation—there is always some starting point, often written out on music paper or memorized. The pieces will include original compositions by each performer.
Dr. Lewis Porter is a jazz pianist, author, and educator. He is Professor of Music at Rutgers University in Newark, where he is the founding Director of the Master's Program in Jazz History and Research. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including the acclaimed study John Coltrane: His Life and Music. He has written numerous articles and liner notes, and edits a book series and a scholarly journal. He has performed recently with such artists as Wycliffe Gordon, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Liebman, and Jeff Coffin. His latest CD, recorded live at Siena Jazz, is Italian Encounter. Jazz Times recently described Porter as "a helluva pianist."
Michael Rabinowitz is a bassoonist who plays both classical music and jazz. He is most famous for bringing bassoon into the jazz genre, and has recorded with jazz greats such as Ira Sullivan, Red Rodney, Wynton Marsalis, John Hicks, Dave Douglas, and Joe Lovano. He can also be heard with the Mingus Orchestra. His recordings include "Bassoon On Fire," "Gabrielle's Balloon," "Rabinowitz in Utopia," "Bassoon in Orbit ," "Ocean Eyes," and "Play." Rabinowitz is currently the head of the band Bassoon in the Wild, which features Grisha Alexiev (drums), Diana Herold (vibraphone) and Joe Fonda (bass). They have performed at the JVC Jazz Festival in New York City, The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh, The Mohonk Mountain House Jazz Weekend, and other venues. Their music includes original compositions, jazz standards, Latin, jazz waltzes, and rhythm and blues.
This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.