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Quotes & Endorsements




Improvisation, it is a mystery.  You can write a book about it, but by the end no

one still knows what it is.  When I improvise and I’m in good form, I’m like

somebody half sleeping. I even forget there are people in front of me.  Great

improvisers are like priests; they are thinking only of their god.1 

                                                                                    Stéphane Grappelli    



                "Thirty years ago, American creative musicians were facing the growing challenge of networking, touring, and performing throughout the country. These active creative artists were not just centered in major cities or culture regions, but were decentralized throughout the heartland. Their improvisation practice demanded their music be heard live and was often energized when musicians could work with other musicians from different backgrounds and in other performance contexts. Many of these artists banded together to participate in the Improvisor Network: an information exchange of places to play throughout the country as well as a means of providing communication about regional activities, critical discourse and plain camaraderie. The IN and its publication, The Improvisor, helped this writer connect with other interested musicians, provided contacts for tours, aided me in programming artists from around the country at Milwaukee's Woodland Pattern Book Center (also a continuing effort celebrating thirty years in 2010), and provided a forum for periodic regional reports, interviews with musicians, reviews, and critical statements.

               For thirty years, this grassroots effort of dedicated musicians has helped enhance the improvisation music scene in Milwaukee and elsewhere. The organization's track record is a testament to its impact on American music."

                                                         Thomas Gaudynski,  Sound Artist, Critic -Milwaukee, WI



            "By the end of the 1970's, free improvisation- music created spontaneously 'in the moment' by daring-do composer/performers- had become a world-wide phenomena. The Improvisor magazine served as both a catalyst and outlet for these musical astronauts. It provided a forum for the musicians themselves to define and describe the music they made. In so doing, it connected musicians from around the globe, documenting their ideas, reviewing their music and inspiring them to 'follow their muse'. In the future, it will serve as the primary history of this revolutionary musical movement."                                                                
Wally Shoup, Artist, Musician, Critic -Seattle, WA



            "Although improvisation has been an important part of music for centuries, The Improvisor was the first periodical dedicated to all forms of this performance practice- from jazz, rock, and folk to completely free-form music making. Before the rise of the Internet, there were no resources of this kind. As a result, The Improvisor became influential on a global scale- including behind the Iron Curtain- not only for the news and information it contained about concerts, recording, and books, but also as a networking tool, where artists could learn of each other's work."                                      
                                                                 Gino Robair, Composer, Musician,
                                                                 Rastascan Records, San Francisco, CA                                  


"Improvised music is the oldest form of music known, yet, today, it remains largely misunderstood.
The Improvisor is the most revered and important publication devoted to improvisation, and it reveals the unlimited musical possibilities improvisation can unleash as well as the ways its ideas may be used beyond music and the arts. In all disciplines, in performance halls, classrooms, and elsewhere, improvisation fosters creativity, self-expression, and a spirit of innovation."                                                   
Ernest Paik, President/Shaking Ray Levi Society,  
                                                                     Music Writer/ Chattanooga Pulse, TN



            "The Improvisor, initiated over thirty years ago, was a generous beacon, a lifeline no less, reflecting the rampant experimentalism emanating from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and later from Birmingham. This maverick collection of poetry, essays, rants, artwork, concert announcements and reviews of improvised performances, published regularly, provided a rich vessel of communication for those of us engaged in testing the limits of performing, while living and working in a culture that remained largely apathetic to our aesthetic explorations and discoveries. Without The Improvisor, our collective activities as improvisers, unprecedented in this geographic region of the U.S., would have gone undocumented."

                                                                         Anne LeBaron,, Composer, Performer                                                                                                                                California Institute of the Arts                                                                                     Santa Clarita, CA


"We believe that improvisation asks us as both audience members and as creators to participate in and celebrate risk, diversity, and often unorthodox practices of communication. So, we found that an open sensibility or modality such as improvisation provides really lends itself to working with diverse populations—by that I mean populations that aren’t schooled."            
Dennis Palmer
                                                                           The Shaking Ray Levis  
                    Chattanooga, TN



The Improvisor has been a vital tool in informing and uniting the widely dispersed network of listeners and performers who share an interest-- often near obsessive-- in improvised music.  That it has survived and evolved for 30 years is nothing short of miraculous.  That it has been based in Birmingham should be
a real source of community pride.     

                                                           Bruce Kaplan and Ann Law, Chattanooga TN




"Given our current cultural climate of intolerance, improvisation as a mode of communication asks us open to what is diverse and is a radically communicative moment that can serve as a model for global ethical relations. And we are not the only organization arguing that free improvisation has the potential to help us in the quest for social justice and cultural openness, rather than prejudice and exclusion."

                                                                   Dennis Palmer
                                                                   Dennis Palmer Music at:  


A chance encounter with something vital has a way of searing into our soul. The Improvisor magazine has repeatedly created that chance encounter for some/most/all who've leafed its pages, or even those unaware of its existence who benefit from the Earth-wide networks it has helped establish and maintain. Improvisation, musical and otherwise, has always been with us human creatures in some form or another. The Improvisor has for 30 years helped strengthen the social, cultural, and economic bonds amongst professionals, hobbyists, and fans who love to explore well-tread, beloved terrain, in the Now, with keen appreciation for the New.

                                                                                Killick Hinds, musician
                                                                                Athens GA


The Improvisor has been a vital publication reporting on the activities of improvising musicians, dancers and writing for thirty years. It has served as an archive resource and a grassroots-networking tool for many artists whose work remains outside of the so said “mainstream.” The Improvisor celebrates all forms of improvisation with an emphasis on “free improv,” more about that in a minute.

Improvisation is a viable form still practiced internationally by many. There are festivals throughout Europe, Asia and the United States where improvisation is key to the work that is offered at these festivals. Improvisation is essential elements of almost all genres of music from baroque to jazz. Talk to almost any choreographer and artist and many will include it as part of their process of making things.

There are countless international musicians who play free improvised music. It is an exciting art form; its value in part is the collective making of music in the moment. It is composed in the present by musicians; witnesses by the audience at the same time, near Zen.

On this the 30th anniversary of The Improvisor, the publication that honors this art, an event to celebrate its existence is way overdue here. To offer support to this event, whatever that may be guarantees a touchstone so future generations can look back, continue to study, understand and celebrate this essential art form. 

                                                                         –Chris Cochrane, I.N. President 1980, NYC