Racer Sessions

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

Filtering by Tag: Mar2017

Abbey Blackwell presents Solo Improvisations for Bass

Greetings, Racers!

Abbey Blackwell

Abbey Blackwell

This weekend, we are delighted to welcome double-bassist Abbey Blackwell to the Racer stage. Blackwell is a core member of the Table & Chairs scene and the Northwest music scene at-large, lending her talents to handfuls of groups of varying styles every week. This calendar year, she has honed in on her solo practice, working through a lens of technical focus and improvisational performance. Blackwell has written below about that personal practice, and how it will come into play this Sunday. Read more from the artist below:

"Since the beginning of the year, I have been recording an improvisation (almost) every day. Playing and recording in this way, so brief and off the cuff has allowed me to see some of the tropes and traps that I fall into when improvising by myself. For this Racer Session, I went through and listened to all of my recordings and I noticed a few things:


  • Most of the improvisations fell into A-B-A form
  • I’ve been moving away from drones (a previous staple of mine for sound and timbre exploration)
  • I‘ve been experimenting more with singing 
  • I’ve been experimenting more with pitch in both bass and voice

"Even before listening back to the recordings, I had noticed most of these changes, but having a recorded history of the last few months shed some light onto how I’ve been approaching the rest of my life and how my life has been influencing my subconscious, AKA improvisations.

"I will be presenting a few short pieces, for which I took some of my favorite ideas from a handful of those improvisations while being aware of my tendencies, and using them or avoiding them as the music dictates.

"For the jam portion of the night, I am going to try and facilitate a slightly different flow. Once a group performs, I will ask that the same group return to the stage after two other groups have played. My goal is that each person who plays will have a chance to assess their playing, looking for things that they fall back on, be it loud gestures, long tones, repeating ostinatos, a particular register, a particular interval, etc. Then, on the next time around, everyone will be able to actively use or not use those ideas. The reason that I want to have the same groups play is that, despite what some may think, group improvisation is a communication, and just like we know how our friends speak and their favorite phrases, we can get to know our colleages’ playing and what they fall back on, and in turn, push them to step out of their comfort zone. And hope that they do the same for us!"