New Recording: The POWER of the IDEA – July 2014, New York

On the 16th of July 2014 Associate Professor Rob Burke recorded a CD in NY with  bassist Mark Helias and Drummer Nasheet Waits; both musicians considered archetypal improvisers on the New York scene.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 11.47.58 pm


IMG_5908Featured on the recording were Monash staff including:

Professor Paul Grabowsky, Paul Williamson and Jordan Murray.

(The studio selected for the recording : Acousticrecording – Brooklyn – New York)

IMG_5746This recording is an investigation of the various connotations of  transversal approaches of melody (in composition) and how this informs interactive improvisations  based on free improvisation. The overarching theme is the ‘power of the idea’;  that is spontaneous improvisations that are perceived to be genuinely ‘in the moment’ as distinct from pre-conceived material that inevitably includes identifiable melodic formulas, assimilated melodic and rhythmic clichés and learnt scales and patterns.

The compositions are the foundation of the improvisations – everyone is a soloist – everyone is an accompanist.  The process included  recording of improvisations and then  identifying ideas, which were developed, notated and orchestrated.

The CD will be released through Jazzhead in May/June 2015.

Australian Launch at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club – June 2015

USA Launch at Smalls Jazz Club –  New York  – 12th July 5 – 7pm 2015

The power of the idea  (Andrys Onsman)

Most often, ideas fit into a sequence, or rather a variety of sequences. An idea has

a myriad of potential consequences, both intended and serendipitous. In

improvisation, the performer makes a constant stream of decisions about which

of the possibilities he or she decides to make real. Part of listening to a

performance is to trust the performer’s decision-making, to let the music lead

regardless of whether the direction being familiar and reassuring or strange and


In music as anywhere, a new idea invites exploration. That is the power in an

idea. The success of any exploration depends on both careful, meticulous

planning and a preparedness to “take the road not taken”; to entertain the

possible rather than only rely on the probable. A new idea is a starting point for

what-if and if-then.

This album is not an armchair ride along well-prepared roads. In each track

there is enough of the familiar to lay the groundwork for exploration; to find new

ways of expressing complex ideas; to build startling new harmonic structures

and to push the idea to where it had no intention of going. Decisions are made

right there and there, sometimes by all the performers at once but mostly one

will ask what-if and others will respond with if-then. For that to work, the

performers need to not only understand and trust each other, they need to listen

to each other. In any ensemble there are a lot of toes that can be trodden on.

Rob Burke (saxophones), leads this wonderful iInternationally renown group of

musicians including New Yorkers – Mark Hellias (bass), Nasheet Waits (drum-

set) with Australians – Paul Grabowsky (piano),  Paul Williamson (trumpet)

and Jordan Murray (trombone) all consummate, generous performers,

attuned to the power of a musical idea, and skilled enough to make it tangible.

Each takes turns as soloist and accompanist, and despite the complexity of the

music, there is no (obvious) indication of hurt toes.

The performers can’t take their performance(s) back, everything was ‘in the

moment’, but we the listeners, can. We can listen as many times as we want,

allow ourselves to become familiar with the ideas, to slowly create beach-heads

of understanding from where we can do our own exploring. As listeners, we too

can be active and we can follow our own ideas. An idea is a powerful thing.



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