Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Levi Gillis & Jarred Katz - October 7, 2012


The pieces we will present this Sunday are derived from concepts in the novels of Virginia Woolf and Kurt Vonnegot. We’ll play four guided improvisations that deal with the concepts of divergence and individuality of thought, duality and dependence. The first two pieces try to represent musically concepts in Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. The novel is a striking display of the psyche of several vacationers in England in the early 20th century. Woolf sets up simple mundane scenes, such as a mother reading to her son, and explores the different inner monologues and thoughts that arise in different characters as a result of that simple event. These reactions are always highly individualized and each character has a variety of personal emotions and memories relating to that event.

The first piece is comprised of a series of alternating solo improvisations. Each solo improv will be sparked by and built around an event in the preceding improv. This piece was inspired by the unique thought processes that go on in our heads triggered by a specific event and it will hopefully result in a collage of divergent musical perception, completely unique, but also somehow related to the other player’s ideas.

The second piece will deal with this same concept, but we will be playing together throughout the piece. We will start in similar improvisational zones, essentially creating a unified texture, and gradually drift apart based on our own development or deconstruction of the musical ideas. The way in which we drift apart will likely be very different but we will also probably line up at one point or another in our own musical tangents, in much the same way that people sometimes have thoughts that randomly coincide.

The third short improvisation we will be performing is based on the concept of duality that became apparent to me when reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. The novel centers on the island of San Lorenzo where order is maintained through a good vs. evil state of living. An evil religion is created and outlawed in order to create a clear outline of this dichotomy to the common people of the island. This got me thinking of how dependent the idea of good and evil are with one another. This idea of duality reveals the relative nature of these counterparts where the existence of one entity is solely dependent on that of the other. Good cannot exist with out evil and evil cannot exist with out good. They define each other and create a harmonious relationship of complete dependence. For our improvisation, the two of us will play with each other the entire time, switching who will be in time and who will be out of time. The duality of playing in time and out of time will be performed to represent how dependent both of those concepts are with one another. Having strict time will define what exactly is out of time.

Our fourth short improvisation will be highlighting how different people’s perceptions of the same event often coincide. To get to a common understanding or compromised result/feeling, there are varying levels of thought agreement and cohesion. We will start out playing completely out of time and separate from each other with the end goal of reaching a harmonious moment where we are both playing together in strict time. The focal point of this improvisation will be the middle area where the brief moments of time agreement will spark a new conversation. This rub of out of time and in time creates new expectations and is the climax of our musical agreement and journey. It’s the ultimate moment where out perceptions must begin to align in order to reach a shared and agreed result.

We don’t have any requirements for the jam following these pieces, but if you would like to explore these musical concepts and textures (diverging ideas, opposing but dependent forces, in time vs. out of time, etc.) please feel free!