The Sound and me #11 with Steve Coleman
When I was younger, I noticed that different players had different sounds and I realized that the sound was not coming from the instrument. It was coming from the person. I realized that it didn't have anything to do with the mouthpiece, the horn and all of this, this was more a matter of what felt comfortable to the player. But for example, Joe Henderson sound was Joe Henderson sound. Even if he played my horn, you know, it would still be his sound. It wouldn't be my sound all of a sudden.
The sound has to do with physicality, with the structure of your body. But it mostly had to do with the experience, and with what the person has experienced in one’s life. And the sound is somehow some kind of reflection of that.
Now, there are some major things that are important, for example, the era that you're born in. If you're born in the nineteen twenties, your conception of the world, your conception of sound, the technology that was happening at the time, is going to be very different that if you're born in 1980, this is obvious. It's going to be reflected in all music globally and it's also going to be reflected in each individual's sound.
And so for me, this means that it doesn't make any sense to copy someone from another era because that's another sound, another experience, another society, another culture, and just another sound in general for the entire era. I realize that every era has a sort of global sound, something that connects all the people who were born in that time. So it's useless for me to try to sound like Sonny Rollins or John Coltrane or somebody like this.
Be more yourself
I think that the thing that I looked for most in the beginning was: How can be more yourself ? More yourself than what people normally are. Because the average person on the street is not really trying to be themselves. They're trying to blend in with society and try to be like others and get along. There's a certain “acceptable” way of being that you're sort of trained in to in school and all of this, and as a creative person, your goal is the opposite of that. Your goal is not necessarily to blend in with everybody, but to be more yourself and express yourself.
Sound is not just a tone, but it's what you play, how you play the rhythm and everything, all of that is the sound. And all of your experiences are very important towards shaping that sound.