Collin Sherman - Saxophones, Clarinets, Electronics/Synths, Guitars.
All of my music involves improvisation in some form or another. Although the albums I have released have varied in terms of genre and style, improvisation has always been a key element to the conception and structure of the pieces.
Chronologically, the first album I released that I would consider “jazz” in some loose sense is Biologic Obligations (2017). All of my releases since then could be called “jazz”, I suppose, with some having a greater emphasis on free jazz or free music than others.
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and in high school played in a jazz combo which covered bebop, post-bop, and fusion material. Many years later, after moving to New York from New Orleans, I played in a traditional, New Orleans-style jazz group. I played in this group for a year or two until my obligations at the law firm where I worked necessitated that I put music on hold for a while. Eventually, I started experimenting with recording alone in my apartment, on my own schedule.
My earliest albums could be put in the amorphous category of experimental ambient electronic music. At the time, I found myself recording in this genre for a number of reasons. First, I had very limited means to digitally record anything. I had no microphone, and my computer would not facilitate direct recording. I would record things from various devices (digital synths, drum machines, shortwave radios, or anything that I could plug into the recorder) and layer them after transferring the recordings to the computer. Second, in addition to having no acceptable means of recording the woodwinds I played, I was somewhat out of practice and cripplingly insecure about my performance abilities. Third, in retrospect, I was in the midst of a years-long depression. I gravitated toward ambient electronic music because significant shifts in dynamics, volume, or rhythm were intolerable to me. Such changes, which are key components of most music, seemed unacceptably jarring during that time. Dissonance and discomfort felt appropriate, but the changes had to take place over longer periods.
Over time, I took steps to help relieve the depression. As this happened, my interest in recording grew, and I acquired more equipment which allowed me to make high quality recording of woodwinds and other instruments, and worked on improving my mixing and production techniques. I also practiced the saxophone more and more, and branched out into clarinet and bass clarinet. As all this was taking place, I felt a strong urge to get back to what I considered my musical “roots” by playing jazz.
I’m not sure if the music I make now would best be described as jazz, or more of a jazz-influenced free music. Over a number of jazz-oriented releases, I have gradually stripped away many of the layers of instruments to allow the music to focus more strenuously on the improvisational part of the performance. Some of the songs have a clear structure to frame the improvisation, and some have no melodic or harmonic structure at all, so that the improvisation can be more “free”.
Free improvisation is a search for truth and transcendental beauty. Although that search will never end, through this music, hopefully, we may all come a little closer to knowing that truth which we seek.