Daniel Levin Interview

Source: LondonJazz.

The first time I really improvised was when I was 19, at a summer chamber music and dance festival. The organizers brought the two divisions together in a room, and asked if any musicians would be willing to try improvising with a dancer. When I got on stage, I had no idea what to do. I just watched the dancer and allowed myself to respond to her gestures – it was physical and visual information that informed what to play. What I remember best about that experience was the last 10 or 15 seconds: she was spinning, very fast. I matched this movement by going way up the fingerboard and trilling. As I was doing this, at a certain point, I had the uncanny feeling that she was about to crash to the ground. I just went with it, and slid all the way down to the low end of the cello, the bottom of the C string. She and I hit the bottom at exactly the same time. I was astounded, and excited. The music no longer had to come from the page. It could come from other places – a dancer, my own ideas. This was the first big step in finding my voice as an improviser and composer.