Let's all be honest - in today's competitive musical climate the boundaries between musical styles, and the labels that we put on certain musicians are becoming more and more blurry. Very few musicians can make a living doing just "one thing", and almost no one is able to make it on pure creative output anymore. However, the term "selling out" becomes more and more derogatory to me every day, because in all honesty, musicians need to be versatile to survive in this climate and if you can't read, improvise, and even in some cases, write music, in at least the two general musical fields of common practice period classical music and creative improvised music (whether jazz, or R&B, or funk or whatever) then you are severely disadvantaged. There's nothing negative about playing in front of a crowd that loves your music, even if what your playing is not your best creative work.
Though the above statement is a reality, I am finding more and more that I am striving to be creative and find new musical pathways even though I have steady work in the music field. I went through a hilarious "experimental" phase around 2006 when I thought being creative was just writing music for wild instrumentation, using tone rows, mathematical formulae, and stupidly hard rhythms and thought I had found my voice. I often laugh: my infamous "Three Movements for Melodica, Alto Saxophone, and Hi-Hat" from 2006 at the time was a crowning achievement for me, but now makes more for a really funny story than a moving musical experience
But I digress. I find now that the most satisfying music I am performing is in the casual recital, with chamber musicians, and combining both classical performance with some improvisation. I think I first found this voice in one of my earliest compositions "Suite for Winds, Cello, and Electric Piano" from 2005. Perhaps not quite as daring an ensemble as the Melodica Trio, this one utilized the mellow sonorities of the bass clarinet, cello, French Horn, tenor saxophone, and fender rhodes piano to form 4 short tone poems in the true "Crossover Music" vein. Though rough in the way these pieces hold together, I still look at this piece as the first chapter of what I am currently searching for, and that which is yet to come.
I had a local mountain top experience when I performed with Voce Chamber Artists on a concert which premiered my "Seven Sketches for Clarinet Trio." This piece was nearly everything I had been striving for, and took all my creative skills to, first, put the piece on paper and then make it jump off the page. Accessible, yet not contrived, I thought the performance of this piece was a huge success and I look forward to playing it often.
So where I am going with all this? Music in todays market needs to be accessible, AND creative to survive. Unfortunately many traditional symphony halls are struggling, concert series patrons are not subscribing, and, well just from anecdotal evidence, there are not many gigs to be had anywhere. I know the economy and its psychological impact is partly to blame, but I wonder if people are just getting too busy, or even too bored, to buy tickets to conventional musical performances. People truly want to experience music that will change them, but sometimes they don't even walk in the door to a concert venue in their backyard.
So anyone following me - watch out, because I am going to be pushing the musical horizon in the upcoming year. I'm not sure what, but I know something big is coming!