How did I get here?

How did I get here

(and where is "here" anyway?)

My interest as a musician has always been in the music made by creative improvising musicians working together. Throughout the 90s most of my work as a saxophonist/composer tried to explore what would happen if you tried to contain the freedom of creative musicians within different organisational frameworks. I like spontaneous improvisation when it works, but I wanted to learn to handle structure because I felt some structure seemed to be important. What could be achieved with varying amounts of written material to adhere to, improvise upon or even ignore altogether? For me this became the key to unlocking all the interesting stuff. Although some of my subsequent music turned out to be quite abstract, most groups I assembled or played with possessed an energy, a harmonic and rhythmic content and a musical philosophy which would probably be best described as free jazz.

In 2009, after a break from organising and touring for a number of years, I returned to writing small group jazz. Compared to my earlier projects though, this music was significantly different. Now there was considerably less abstraction in the music, and less left to chance. The music had much clearer harmonic structures to follow, more defined rhythmic ideas and a greater emphasis on melodic themes. There were minimalist motifs and repeating figures. There were bass lines and extended grooves. This new music was undoubtedly more accessible to more people, but what I hoped still persisted was an exploratory verve, and uncompromising edge and a desire to avoid the obvious. All subsequent projects have followed this more European contemporary jazz aesthetic.

– Jon Lloyd