|Emma Fisk - Jazz Violinist
I do lots of different things when I practice - I play scales; I drone my way through many double-stopped chords in search of every violinist's Nirvana...intonation; I practice tunes for gig coming up; I learn new repertoire; whenever time allows I delve into my Kreutzer studies and unaccompanied Bach sonatas and partitas and I do the odd bit of transcription.
I also improvise freely - I'm not going to call it Free Improvisation with a big 'F' for fear of falling into a vortex of stylistic/ genre-based discussion about what exactly is Free Improvisation?
What I do is a I close my eyes, play a few notes and see where they take me for the next few minutes. All kinds of technical, musical and stylistic elements might pop up, which is fun, relaxing and therapeutic for someone who spends so much time striving for specific, stylistic accuracy!
I've often thought it would be a good idea to record some of those sketches, doodles, musical jottings as they sometimes (not always) are fresh and exciting - and who knows, someone might like to listen to them. So in the spirit of 'recording practice' warts and all, and hopefully capturing spontaneous musical moments I am going to try to record a series of these little improvisations as the year goes on.
Here is the first jotting from this evening's session, recorded on my daughter's i-pad voice memo software in the spirit of impatience; so a bit like that Facebook craze last year of posting yourself with no make-up on.
Next Wednesday, April 12th, I'll be at The Witham in Barnard Castle with pianist Paul Edis. We're playing a mixed programme of jazz, classical music and tangos - something a bit different then! We put this selection together at the request of the 'Jazz at Crook' team who thought it would be nice if the hall's upright piano got used once in a while and liked the idea of some classical violin and piano repertoire in addition to the usual jazz fayre.
The audience who came to this first outing of our Jazz, Classical, Tangos programme at the St Cuthbert's Centre, Crook, told us that they loved the range of styles. One lady confided that her husband was a great jazz fan but she found it a bit much to listen to a whole evening of jazz so she loved the variety! I was astonished by how well received Elgar and Massanet were at what is usually a jazz event, and this set us thinking that perhaps other audiences would also enjoy this kind of concert.
A lot of the music in our programme has links and connections and some of the music would have existed side by side when it was first played. Jazz and Tangos went hand in hand in 1930s Paris as music played for dancing - both exciting new musics from across the Atlantic!
Jazz violinist Eddie South regularly performed radio broadcasts that included tangos, Hungarian folk and Roma music, jazzed up classical pieces and jazz standards side by side. He was a classically trained violinist who turned to jazz because of the limited opportunities available to African American musicians in classical music at the time.
Lili Boulanger, whose piece 'Nocturne' we will be playing, is said to be one of Herbie Hancock's favourite composers, while her sister Nadia taught Astor Piazzolla and encouraged him to pursue his development of the Nuevo Tango.
Besame Mucho is a perfect example of the blending of Latin, jazz and classical music - written by Mexican concert pianist/ composer Consuelo Velasquez, the song became a Latin pop hit and a jazz standard. I'll leave you with Consuelo magnificently performing her own composition and hope to see you next week!
I have often had my finger poised over the 'Create Blog Page' button since setting up this website...I love writing and have kept a diary since I was seven years old, but what with Facebook and Twitter, website updates, feeding children, practising the violin, organising gigs, doing gigs and so on, I've always backed away for fear of not keeping it up.
Ah well, I'll jump in and try not to begin every subsequent blogpost (after the initial flurry of communication!) with....'sincerest apologies for the enormous time since I last blogged!'.
At this point I imagine the blog will consist of musings on day to day musical activities and experiences; what I've been up to and what is coming up soon, and I've no doubt non-musical aspects of everyday life will also manage to sneak in.
This morning for example I have been pulling together some information about the Jazz, Classical, Tangos programme that Paul Edis and I are doing at The Witham on April 12th; I've had a nice chat with Shaune Eland from Darlington Jazz Festival about the Gypsy Jazz Brunch that James Birkett and I are doing on April 30th at The Hash Bar, and I've facilitated the construction of a miniature, green-screen animation studio for my daughter. When I say facilitated, I mean I got the paint down from a high shelf...she did the rest herself.
This afternoon I'll be practising at some point; figuring out what my college teaching will consist of tomorrow; and getting some stuff sorted for my son's 13th birthday on Friday...but first I must feed those children!