Mikko Innanen, Dave Liebman, Marc Ducret, Andy Emler, Kalle Kalima and Benoît Delbecq have answered to this question. They express their thoughts and feelings about a topic which is quite essential in a musician’s life.
These answer serve as an introduction to the panel discussion “Joint programming, Touring routes: (how) can it work? “, as part of the seminar program of the Europe Jazz Network and the Jazz Finland Festival in Helsinki on September 18th-20th 2014
“Being on tour with my own band is a luxury. It’s the best of the best. It’s heaven.
I only wish I could experience it more often. If the stars are in the right position and the spirits agree, in just about a week or two the music can start developing into something no man or woman has ever experienced before in this world of ours. Unfortunately it’s doesn’t always go like this, but when it does, you better enjoy it and appreciate the greatness of it!”
Mikko Innanen – saxophonist, composer, improviser
“In my case I do a lot of gigs where I join a rhythm section and with one rehearsal (maybe!). We play, possibly a few gigs or just one. This situation has definitely made me a better musician because speed of comprehension is of the essence….what can I bring to this music and these musicians? And of course there is the thrill of the so-called “one night stand.” On the other hand having a group of musicians that you know, that you have travelled with and have an established repertoire is an entirely different challenge. Here, you are familiar with everyone’s playing, meaning there are less surprises than in the visitor format, but there is the strength and focus which only comes from familiarity. A steady group is like a marriage, good days and bad days but when it’s right, it’s the top of the line. I think serious listeners intrinsically can feel the energy that emanates from a group that know each other and have a history. In the final result, both situations are feasible and satisfying.”
Dave Liebman, saxophonist, composer, improviser
“Having the possibility to be on tour with my own band is absolutely priceless: I have toured with Charles and other managers with all sorts of bands, from solo to large ensembles; of course playing the music everyday makes the band sound much tighter and the ideas flow in a more creative way, but also being together on the road creates that special chemistry between people who share everyday life, traveling, eating together etc., which in return gives the music a particular feedback which you can’t get when people go back home after each performance. It adds a completely different intensity to the music.”
Marc Ducret – guitarist, composer, improviser
“I live in a country where the single word « tour » has disappeared for creative jazz musicians. Also you have to know that a lot of subsidies and radio shows ( France Musique, jazz office) concerning creation and jazz have been cut off the scene during these last 2 years in France. The « plebiscite » of (music) entertainment has become enormous comparing to « art ».
A composer going on the road, playing every day the music of his project has become a real luxury…our music needs writing and amazing human connections for us improvisers; so living and traveling together makes our confidence grow so much that the magic of music can be touch and received by the audience more easily. Performing music every day helps us to improve not only on our playing, it brings more composing « food » and nourishes our imaginary and the one of the audience too. It improves also our behavior in society for open-mindedness and tolerance.
Friendship is one of the best food for playing music together in our languages …
Love and peace.”
Andy Emler, pianist, composer, improviser
“It is very hard to book concerts, so having someone booking is a magnificent thing. Playing with own band is very personal and it feels great to get that possibility and present own music. It is every time exciting to be on tour, and if something goes wrong I feel very stressed about it. Having tour manager is luxurious. I have done many tours where I organized everything myself. It may affect the concentration on playing, when you have to be also the tour manager. Having a good tour with own band is one of the best things about being a musician.”
Kalle Kalima, guitarist, composer, improviser
“Going on tour with my own band(s) should be happening at least half of the year!
There is a major difference between playing one-shot gigs here and there and being on the road. The music we play is a special and demanding thing, and always benefits spectacularly from being on the road. Not that one-shot gigs are less musical – nevertheless on the road the music is a daily thing, a normal cycle of travel – sound check – play that puts the musicians in a state of creative flow, at the scale of a week, two weeks, five weeks sometimes. This state of flow, which appears on one-shot gigs as well when the musicians are well-connected between them – and with the venue’s acoustics, with the audience… but at the scale of a week (with say one gig then back home three days, recording something else, than another concert 2 days later) it feels like tip-toe walking and it can feel like a trapeze act in the way it is somehow more risky (this said we like risk in the music of course).
For the audience, the opportunity to catch a band on tour is opening the door to phenomenons in the music that transcend the rite of the concert. Each night is different of course, but each night becomes a special thing that mysteriously knits with the conditions (piano quality, acoustics, audience) and the players… it becomes a normal thing to let the music flow happen, leading to brand new territories. This means, it gives strength not only to the music but to news ideas to appear on-the-fly, as well as it contributes to build for the players, the composers, the improvisers, a way to observe their music evolve like a living organism – thus it brings new ideas and perspective for the future compositions to be written, what I usually call newer “ear attitudes”. The more a band has played many concerts in a row, the more demanding it becomes in the aesthetics of the music.
As an example, I have recorded my trio last July, the same trio that toured Finland, Estonia, Latvia in SEP-OCT 2012, thanks to Charles Gil and his long-term partnerships in the circuit. The band has played one-shot gigs since after this tour. Now, last July, when we united for a two-days rehearsal session in order to learn new music for the recording to come, the connections in the band have been immediate, really amazingly immediate although we were reading new things I wrote: I was worried that two days were not enough before the recording itself, but I must admit the three of us have been deeply impressed by how immediately such states of flow appeared… this can only be obtained with touring. Actually, after take 1 of track 1, at the recording studio, I remember saying “Wow. Sounds like a real band plus that has been on the road for a while”.
Touring is music’s best friends – and for musicians’ ears and bodies and souls and minds it’s their most fulfilling food for sure – the same applies for the audience witnessing a band on the road, may it be the first concert or the last one. I wish I could develop more with musical examples (…since I have 8 gigs recorded of this tour and it’s very interesting to compare what’s happening in the music)!”
Benoît Delbecq – pianist, composer, improviser