Saturday, January 23, 2010

"improvs to shake off the tyranny of melody.. To hell with form."

Steve Hackett:

"So who was the first Progressive artist? It seems the term was coined in the early 1900s by Richard Strauss to describe Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius which even sounds like a double sided concept album title. I remember the term 'Progressive' was in common parlance used in the 1960s to describe the free jazz salvos of Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Roland Kirke and many others goading Hendrix into some of his wilder moments. I welcomed improvs designed to shake off the tyranny of melody and the shackles of harmony. To hell with form. All we needed was pure spirit on a journey into the abyss to see if we could keep flying.

To make it work, jazzers needed great chops. Miles pulled it off with Live Evil (ironically a studio album) where quite by chance you had the added bonus that you couldn't tell what was guitar, trumpet or keyboard which were all imitating each other... Thus each instrument successfully coveted and cloned its colourful cousin..

I once read a description of schizophrenia which described the illness as 'delusions of grandeur'. Many English Progressive bands from the Beatles onwards made those delusions their musical calling card."

-Steve Hackett

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