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Quotes from Nigel Gavin


Gary Steel’s 2007 review of Gavin’s album Visitation:

“On Visitation he makes incredibly complex improvisations (all one-take performances) sound easy on his 11-string Glissentar. What separates Gavin from other virtuosic guitarists is his gently persuasive way with experimentation; while he navigates some pretty unusual spaces in this music, somehow he keeps it rooted to notions of melody and structure that charm and seduce. There’s genuine humanity, wit and even humour in Gavin’s creations, and the crosscurrents in his compositions (sometimes you’d swear three guitars were playing simultaneously) make for brilliant late-night low-light listening.”

On improvisation and Vitamin S:

“Some of the younger people think improvising should have no rhythm and no melodic structure. But the most mature form of improvising is to sound as if you’re not improvising. John Abercrombie once told me ‘when we’re playing composed music, we try to make it free like improvising, but when we’re improvising, we try to make it sound like composed music’. “The people who are so steeped in their instrument go into their widdly-widdly … you need to step out of the comfort zone to play something new, pure spontaneity. I did one night at Vitamin S performing with a guy who was playing four digital alarm clocks – that was his instrument. And another time a guy was playing an old-fashioned typewriter. The first time I played there, a guy was playing percussion with a weed eater and saws, and another guy was mic-ing up spinning musical tops. I was staring at the guitar feeling way overdressed!”

The Most Important Thing (NZ Musician magazine):

“Being present in the moment. Technique may or may not be relevant in this idiom. Art is the capacity to re-experience one’s innocence. Childlike simplicity goes hand in hand with virtuosity along the sun lit path of improvisation. To improvise is the highest honour the muse can bestow. But you gotta have trust in the muse and keep a healthy sense of playfulness. We must embrace hazard and make it our friend.”

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