Monday, July 16, 2012

Great moments in the use of a Synthesizer as an improvising tool :

Great moments in the use of a Synthesizer as an improvising tool :
These are some of the few pieces of serious improvised music where are synthesizer is played in a manner which approaches "virtuoso" performance.
Allan Holdsworth : "Flat Tyre" ( entire album) 2001
This was the album that made me think that it was possible to play great improvised music with synthesizers . My favorite track is "eeny meeny" especially the final solo sound . I believe all the lead sounds are DX7s . This album arrived when I got to Tokyo straight after the terrorist attacks and had a very profound influence on me.
Since then I have made various attempts to utilize those instruments and make them work. It's pretty hard to get an instrument with a synthesized attack to "groove" but I have pursued it for the last 10 years or so.
Since then I have discovered or rediscovered a few other pieces of recorded work on the instrument which are particularly outstanding and noteworthy:
Jim Beard : "Fever" from the album Advocate.
Joe Zawinul: "Update" from "This is This" ( Weather Report) and
"D-flat Waltz" from "Domino Theory" ( Weather Report )

Rolf Langlans sounds great in this clip
Scott Kinsey is also a very serious musician very much in the Zawinul vein. I have heard some live bootlegs of his playing which are really great. Hopefully I will hear him play live soon. The last time was over ten years ago.
I also heard a bootleg of an unreleased Kurt Rosenwinkle album with him playing guitar synthesizer on it. Unfortunately the record companies and the jazz world at large are against the idea and refused to release the record.

It's a dark art often frowned upon by "serious" musicians and critics. Considering it is only 10 to 15 years old it will be interesting to see what the future holds. I expect with the continued expansion of computing power some really amazing instruments will be possible which may well make acoustic instruments out of date. Unfortunately Synths are often only as good as the speakers at the venue which in Jazz clubs isn't always really great. Keep the faith.