Maybe the future is already here. What is certain is that a radical change
in what it means to be a musician today is already taking place.
George Haslam, the famous English sax baritone
player recently wrote that the history of jazz would soon change in a radical way
thanks, mostly, to the developments of today's sophisticated and affordable technologies.
He anticipated that jazz musicians would soon become completely autonomous, that
is, they would create, process, and publicise their works themselves. They can do
this from their own studios or homes, with their own computer, and through specialist
sites, using instruments such as sampling, dubbing and others. Haslam added that
jazz would become a total creative act, as opposed to mere performance
But we can add also that, thanks to improved internet technologies, an artist
can promote his own work on the web without depending on a record company, and can
deal with jazz lovers directly.
Sylvia Kleyff, for example, is already taking this short cut. She is a Mexican
(But the ancestors were from Poland, and has a degree from famous Berkelee college.
She has recently recorded her latest work in a New York studio, it's true, but has
promoted it herself through the net, and is circulating it worldwide throughout
specialized sites. The record, not as yet masterized, has no label, and the cover
was put together by her on an ordinary computer. Therefore it already falls into
the category of the do-it-yourself cd, and happens to be a very good. What is more,
Kleyff rightly defines herself as something more than a jazz musician since she
has other talents such as composing and group management skills.
Silvia's cd consists of seven terse, spare musical pieces. She believes that
"writing fewer notes allows musicians greater freedom" as, for instance,
to be more lyrical here, more sharp-edged there, or even morose, or wherever the
creative mood takes them.
On the sombre sea of Kleyff's compositions and her group's improvisations,
one perceives fragments of free jazz, one even sense the gathering
of Coltranian clouds. The calm surface of these pieces is occasionally disturbed
by brief storms, or powerful waves of sounds. Winds bring echoes of blues, flavours
and memories of the music of
Bill Evans, and occasionally those of Miles Davis'
Kind Of Blue. With Kleyff, from the
very first notes one begins to feel that something is different, that this musician,
like many others, is out to discover new musical territories, a new musical
It seems clear therefore, that though Silvia measure herself against the
entire tradition of modern jazz, she is obviously looking for a personal mode of
expression without making concessions to any type of revival, nor does she wish
to pander to superficial jazz listeners. On the other hand she continues to take
a keen interest in the research and experiences going on in all contemporary music.
In fact, on My space, one can listen to the soundtrack Kleyff has written
for an animated cartoon, Sirens from Mexico, which is full of experimental
As a pianist performer, Kleyff is equally sparing, almost bare, she sais
that sometimes flourishes are the perfect trick used by a performer to mask his
limitations". As an aside, this may remind some listeners of Mal Waldron,
though Silvia herself would not comment. It's necessary at this point to remark
however, that her "travelling companions" are indeed very good. As a matter of fact,
the saxophonist Logan Richardson deserves a special mention, and so does
the percussionist Nasheets Waits, who is one of those "singing drummers"
capable of producing an extraordinary mix of sounds.
Kleyff's cd is now available, just as it was when it first came out of the New
York recording studio where it was born, on
myspace. Anyone interested
in knowing lots of news about Silvia can find it On Facebook. She is quite
happy to share her experiences, her dreams, the struggles she faces as an independent
musician. . It should be mentioned that there is another reason for promoting
herself freely on the web, she firmly believes that it should be up to the people
to decide if her Don't lose your soul
deserves to remain on the web worldwide, on the computers of thousands of jazz lovers.
If their response is positive, it may attract the attention of producers who might
wish to take a serious interest in it and perhaps publish it. Silvia is aware of
the difficulties that await her along this solitary road, and that it would help
a lot if she had the backing of the press. She expresses her concern on Facebook
, "The effort of promoting myself takes a lot out of me".
Unfortunately, she says, the recording industry is less interested in what is new
than the literary world which is able to discover new talents in blogs.
It seems clear then that instruments like Facebook and
My space have revolutionized
the relationship between the artist and the public, it means that jazz fans can
interact freely with musicians, while the latter in turn feel less isolated and
can receive direct, valuable feedback from them. To say it like Ornette, "Tomorrow
is the question".
Marco Buttafuoco for Jazzitalia
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