The Decisive Instant – Season 7, Mini-Retrospective

On August 23 Charles Sharp, Jonathon Grasse, and I will be leading the Decisive Instant large ensemble through a program mostly drawn from our last six seasons. While we have previously rerun one or two compositions, this is our first retrospective show. We’ll be playing at the Cultural Alliance of Long Beach, headlining a show with many excellent improvisers, mostly from the South Bay. Here’s the Facebook invite.

On September 5, Charles and I will be speaking at the Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium on “The Decisive Instant and the Futures of Creative Music.” Here’s the abstract:

     Since 2011, the authors have co-led The Decisive Instant, a large creative music ensemble in Los Angeles. In this presentation they reflect on and theorize their experience and consider its implications for the future of creative music as a repertoire, practice, and community.
Their first section: “The Future of the Past,” examines The Decisive Instant’s performances of works by past composers, particularly their May 2014 Sun Ra centennial shows. The practical and aesthetic issues surrounding jazz repertory projects are revisited in the context of Sun Ra’s avant-garde and futurist vision and of Amiri Baraka’s concept of Black music as a politicized dialectic, i.e. the Changing Same. What do 1965’s revolutionary gestures mean in 2014? What is the future for the past of singular works of creative music beyond recordings?
Part two: “The Future of the Present,” covers The Decisive Instant’s performances of pieces by celebrated contemporary artists including Barry Guy and Anthony Braxton, critically considering the forms of community (university programs, workshops, websites  – legitimate and not, personal relationships, etc) that function as an alternative network to document, preserve, and distribute unpublished music. These institutions, formal and not, determine the conditions of future performances of the creative music of the present.
Last, “The Future of the Future” discusses the role of large ensembles in fostering community among Los Angeles creative musicians and perpetuating the music. The groups led by Horace Tapscott, Vinny Golia, and Adam Rudolph each played crucial roles and were inspirations for our own group. Rather than focus exclusively on a single leader’s compositional vision, The Decisive Instant instead encourages compositions by the members, which have ranged from pieces rooted in jazz swing to graphic scores. The Decisive Instant was intended to expand opportunities for artists to compose for a large group. It has also, by bringing together geographically and culturally diverse players, enhanced networks of support and collaboration. Like the other groups discussed, from Ra to Rudolph, it is the performance of community, not the expression of a pre-existing collectivity but its performative articulation.

 In between these two self-reflective performances, Charles and I will join Andrea Centazzo on August 30 to record an episode of Scott Heustis’ Long Beach public access cable show “Sonic Stories.” The show will include an interview with Andrea as well as performances by our trio Next. I will let you know about broadcast dates and streaming links. 


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