Author Archives: Ratzo B. Harris

Don’t Hurt the Art

I got a call from the owner of my favorite improvised music venue in Brooklyn, Puppets Jazz Bar, who informed me that, due to financial problems, the club was going to fold that night and would I like to attend the last rites.

More on “How to Improvise”

Decisions are often made in the witch’s cauldron of the recording studio about what takes, or parts of takes, to include in a final product; more often than one might imagine (or admit) the result is an entirely new work, almost unrecognizable from the original versions that were butchered to construct it

Oooh, Whatta Week!

A perusal through the latest issue of the Journal of Jazz Studies (formerly Annual Review of Jazz Studies), now available for free on-line.

Is It Real?

By Ratzo B. Harris
I disagree that jazz, in the big-picture sense, has retired to an art music niche; this is an illusion that the American Musical Culture Machine has perpetrated in order to maximize profits for a select few.

Improvising Politics

A key element in improvising music is the ability to anticipate one’s sound. It’s always easier to play when you know that when you go to play a certain note, it will sound right. Imagine playing a piano where all of the B-flats and the D-naturals have been reversed. It could seriously cramp one’s style. I had a something of a similar experience last night.

How to Improvise

By Ratzo B. Harris
The necessity to compensate for what someone else plays makes the notion of improvisation antithetical to that of composition, which is divorced from the performance milieu by many degrees.

A Question About Improvised Music

By Ratzo B. Harris
The amount of time and energy spent on researching, analyzing, and mastering a genre of improvised music is comparable to taking holy orders; but, Lincoln Center Jazz not withstanding, most of the temples erected to American music are for non-improvised music, where a performance might only get a few hours of rehearsal.