(photo via jazzarium.pl)
Condolences to the family and friends of Butch Morris, who passed away yesterday. As Taylor Ho Bynum writes in the New Yorker, “While little appreciated by audiences beyond avant-garde-music cognoscenti, his influence upon contemporary improvisers of all disciplines is profound.” For example, in our circle of creators, without Butch Morris, there would be no Burnt Sugar, as I’m sure Greg Tate will attest. The genius was Morris’s Conduction method.
Morris developed (and trademarked) a system he called “Conduction,” which he described as “a vocabulary of ideographic signs and gestures activated to modify or construct a real-time musical arrangement or composition.” The academic wording disguises an idea that is both simple and radical. What Morris spent the last thirty years of his life perfecting was a technique to let an orchestra work together with one mind: courting the unknown, making something out of nothing, taking the basic challenge posed by African-American music in the twentieth century to its farthest logical extension.
Read more of Bynum’s tribute via The New Yorker.