Eleventh Piece: Steve Davis

IMC returns with a second season of Piece By Piece, a unique musical ‘chain letter’ of online improvisation, with eight exciting new artists from Ireland creating new work in sequence.

The third work in the series comes from Northern Irish improvising drummer Steve Davis on Friday 11th December, 8pm.

Belfast-based drummer Stephen Davis mainly plays jazz and improvised music.  He is the drummer in Anthony Braxton group 'The New Standard’, and active in the UK and European improvised/creative music scenes.  As well as Braxton he has worked with Mark Ribot, Evan Parker, Ralph Alessi, Kris Davis, Alexander Hawkins, John Taylor, Rufus Reid, Paul Dunmall, Django Bates, Van Morrison, Matthew and many others.  He is a composer and has his own projects published on Babel Label London as well as Intakt records Switzerland. Steve is an assistant lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast.

For the best part of a decade, Davis has been one third of heavyweight UK free-jazz trio, Bourne Davis Kane, alongside pianist Matthew Bourne and double-bassist Dave Kane, releasing several highly regarded CDs including collaborations with veteran British saxophonist Paul Dunmall. He also leads the quartet, Human, featuring Alexander Hawkins, Alex Bonney and Dylan Bates, which released a debut album, Being Human, on Babel in 2013.

Q 1. What does improvisation mean to you?

Improvisation to me is the most exciting and creative way to make music. In all its different forms, music improvisation lets you access a different set of skills as a performer. I have found ways to play that are unique to me when improvising. This is of course a common goal for an improviser, in other words to create your own voice. I am not sure other musics offer this. Free improvisation in particular lets you open a space in the music, that is not just technique or understanding of all the ingredients of music, but is a place where composition and performance are working in real time.

Q 2. How do you think about engaging with material or ideas from another artist when improvising?

I will engage in the material that is sent to me by the other artist in many ways. Firstly I will treat this just like playing with another musician who is throwing me an idea etc. I am comfortable with this process. Secondly I will take that idea and run with it. I guess I could use rhythmic information taken for the original idea and extrapolate it in many different ways or apply the same process the pitch to textures I get. I could also take the conceptual idea sent to my and either run with it or work against it.

Q 3. How do you think the world of music is changing or will change as result of the COVID-19 crisis?

I think the world of music will change and has already started to change because of COVID-19. We are seeing the emergence of artists moving into more onto a digital platform. This of course has pros and cons. I think travel will be more difficult and touring will change. Many musicians are stopping playing altogether and are sadly either retraining or getting underpaid jobs. The music scene in general was not in a good place so this has kind of tipped it over the edge. I guess there is hope that this will shine a light on how bad it has been for everyone and maybe things could change. Maybe we could have more live venues to play music , better audience engagement, better financial support for professional musicians and a strategic set up to foster creativity within communities. We live in hope!

Watch Steve's performance on Facebook or YouTube from 8pm on Friday 11th December. 

Connect with Steve Davis on his Soundcloud

Photo Credit: (c) Cristina Marx/Photomusix


See more about the Piece by Piece series here.


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