Art is what makes life more interesting than art.
Robert Filliou

Sakis Papademetriou

The restless position of the improviser

Text: Sakis Papademetriou

During a newspaper poll held in March2018, the question was “What is not Thessaloniki?” Responding summarily, I opted to forego those as ever unwarranted characterizations offhandedly lavished upon the city and, instead, focus on one theme, one that has yet to subside for over forty years now.

We pondered the exact same question during the late ‘70s. We held discussions which led to individual actions and, occasionally, to endeavors supported by  local institutions and by that we’re referring to a center or workshop of new music proposals and experimentations that allow for collaboration among a multitude of art sectors. A repository operating on a daily basis with the appropriate infrastructure. Now, we’re at a standstill. Those who did move, they crossed the borders.

Thessaloniki relinquished the heritage of the pioneering Macedonian Art Society «Techni», especially that of the ‘60s and the ‘70s, and settled into stagnation or, rather, merely tolerated a vague notion of “normalcy”,  classifying its restless artists into a sort of extinct species.

The exceptions, which were more often than not of a personal and obsessive nature, failed to cast their glow on the city’s nabobs.

Improvisation as a process
or as a process towards personal freedom
is not a formula for creativity
is not a school of composition and execution
of a staged performance
it’s an exercise, physical and spiritual
a prayer to the primordial powers
so they may annihilate
the watchful eye of rationalism
break the sound barriers
granted to us
as a compulsory acceptance of a heritage
recovery of a lost land
treasures of childhood innocence
play and banter

Michel Contat, a literary and jazz record critic and noted scholar on the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, in his work entitled «A philosophy of our times» and subheadlined «The story of a constellation of associations starting from Sartre and ending in jazz», asserts that in jazz one indeed finds elements of Sartre’s existentialist philosophy. Jazz is an affirmation of collective freedom where each one is individually revealed, listens to his own voice, takes on risks, prepared to take on the unexpected,  inciting the other’s response.   Jazz is an improvisation not  of vindictive chaos, but, rather, a reciprocal and unexpected gift.

Jazz is interaction, a plea to the other’s uniqueness within the bounds of a commonly-accepted lingo, synergically shaping a distinct world.  A group of improvisers, a jazz combo that’s really burnin  and swingin it, is in essence a spontaneous union of free individuals who aim for the beautiful… Take after jazz in your relationships with others.

A daily piece of improvisation
resists the daily routine through its singularity
resists happenings by being in itself a happening
lives a life parallel to and hidden from the apartment- block
forced lifestyle
is indifferent to music stands
comes first or last in a world
of daily shortcomings and needs?
decentralized from order
it traipses without reason
without a safety net