Jazz saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom plans for spontaneity. In concert, she and her quartet interweave acoustic and electronic sounds while following their muse. Performances are deliberately on the edge, positioned so that a stumble means a fall. That's part of what makes the music so exciting, says Bloom.
The Jane Ira Bloom Quartet performs at 8 p.m. tomorrow in BGSU's Kobacker Hall.
Curiously, although Bloom's accomplishments and exploration of electronic sounds are revolutionary, the technology she uses is surprisingly dated.
"We use very old-fashioned electronic sounds and equipment, but in avant-guard ways. Think of [the 1956 movie] Forbidden Planet. Those textures are analogue, and they are both rounder and warmer than today's digital ones," she said in a telephone interview from her home in New York City.
For Bloom, the goal has been to find ways to play electronic sounds with as much control as if she were pressing the keys on her saxophone. Electronics offer her just another instrument, another vehicle for virtuosic expression.
"In the band, our playing is always driven by the musical ideas in the moment. That means that the electronic sounds have to be created as spontaneously as any other sounds. To make it work, you have to have access to changing the electronic qualities as easily as you would move a finger on the sax. The technique has to be that in the bone."
And in the movement, for Bloom.
Known for the physicality of her playing, Bloom uses foot pedals to control her synthesizers. She then uses motion to create unique textures and sounds by aiming her instrument high, then low, left then right.
"Movement is an intuitive part of my playing. I have used it to explore the different ways of changing sound by using motion to create a Doppler effect, for example, by passing my instrument across two different microphones at different velocities. That sort of thing has become a signature of mine," she said.
Bloom says that attending a live performance is the best way to understand the experience she and her ensemble are after.
"First and foremost, we are live performers. For us and the audience, the experience is about the excitement of seeing improvisation without a safety net."
Bloom is recognized as one of America's leading saxophonists. Honors include the 2001 and 2003 Jazz Journalists Award, the Downbeat International Critics Poll, the Charlie Parker Fellowship for Jazz Innovation, the International Women in Jazz Masters Award, and others.
Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, keyboardist Jamie Saft, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Bobby Previte perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow in BGSU's Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets range from $18 to $34. Information: 419-372-8171 or 1-800-589-2224.
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