Making music with Alex Acuna on percussion and drum set, Abraham Laboriel on electric basses and Otmaro Ruiz on piano and keyboards (or guest pianist Jetro daSilva), I realize that leaderless improvisation is absolutely possible with harmonic and rhythmic instruments. It requires strong musical experience and fearless, ego-free collaboration, but we have the whole Western music harmonic system and beyond, as well as chord progressions and rhythmic structures that each of us grew up with, crossing many boundaries. We can find and lead one another into improvisations that appear composed and yet we are inventing the rhythm, melody, harmony and words in the moment.
We have now been working this way for four years, nothing is repeated. We travel into musical terrain in a different way each time, all those years of studying music and playing in ensembles to come to this beautiful task of not knowing—together. Music love. To work this way needs the right combination of musical souls with the same intention. It is a valued and respected aspect of music that extends back into all of history across cultures. This is music as prayer.