Name: Brian Auger
Occupation: Keyboardist, improviser, composer
Current release: Brian Auger's Far Horizons boxset, a remastered collection of his four studio albums recorded with Julie Driscoll and The Trinity, is out via Soul Bank. He also recently released a more concise career-spanning compilation, Auger Incorporated, with many exclusive bonus tracks.
If you enjoyed this interview with Brian Auger and would like to know more about his fascinating career and music, visit his official homepage. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
Brian Auger: "I can only give you MY experience with JAZZ improv, as every musician has a different approach to taking a solo - or to make this easier to understand, making a new melody over the chord sequence of a tune, and in the style of the tune.
Rules for Improvisation
There are no rules, because if there were, we are talking about composition and not improvising.
When I’m improvising (or soloing) at my best, I am not thinking, (per se). I am allowing my psyche the freedom to go (“off the leash”, off thought). Sometimes I have had the strange experience of watching my fingers play, and asking myself “ Who is doing this?” These are the “ magic moments” in the gift of music, and they have only happened in the company of great musicians with whom I have played and worked for a long time.
When these moments occur, the public seems to realize that something special has happened.
Here are a couple of quotes:
- From American radio host Trish Hennessey: “I think I just had a religious experience."
- After playing John Maclaughlin’s “Dragon Song” to end the set, a terrified young man in Germany told me: “I think you are the Devil!!!” —-not exactly a great compliment
When playing solo, especially when practicing, this has never happened to me, but many ideas emerge for future development. As the mind is deeply involved, I do not look on this as improvising, but as part of composing.
The great classical composers, Bach, Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, and a host of others, were all great improvisors, but they were trained to score their themes for orchestra. This was wonderful, but was not “on the spot improvisation,” as in a Jazz solo, where on a certain night, a solo slips its earthly bounds and the audience realizes something special is happening. The music has spoken from a very deep, quiet, place, effortlessly.
I find that when I get the chance to be still, and I am in a quiet place, I am always aware of the music that is there, and I am never lonely, or short of musical ideas.
Writer Eckhart Tolle puts it well:
“Stillness is the only thing in the world that has no form.
But then, it is not really a thing, and it is not of this world.”
I look upon music as the special language of our Planet Earth. It transcends all the languages of the our planet, and is understood and appreciated worldwide.
Jazz solos that have enchanted me
Donny Hathaway, from his LIVE album: “What’s going on.”
Victor Feldman Piano solo on “A Sack o’ Woe” from Cannonball Adderly Live at the Lighthouse
John Coltrane "Giant Steps", "Naima", "A Love Supreme"
Miles Davis from “A Kind Of Blue”, piano solo by Wynton Kelly on “Freddie Freeloader” and Miles Davis's trumpet solo on "Freddie Freeloader"
And I must add that after hearing Miles’s interpretation of “Summertime” from the Porgy and Bess Opera, that I cannot envision it any other way."
BRIAN AUGER Venice California September 2022