I think of myself as a creative entity, a vessel. I try to get away from solid ideas about myself and become flexion. I try to become a being that the situation demands. The challenge is: allow your spirit to travel with others.

I am known as a vibe player or an organic musician or even a fusionist. I love to mix disciplines. I think of myself as a vessel of collected thoughts, feelings and experiences. I don’t know exactly what will come, but I follow the foot prints until I arrive.

A piece of music I’m performing is the road map. In jazz it’s just a road map. It is not the whole journey. You have to complete the journey with your own creativity and improvisation. It’s like when you bring the vessel on the road, you are driving with a map and there are rules, but there is room for how you drive and where you drive. That’s the fun. If you crash, it’s still cool ’cause no one gets hurt.

Sometimes the music that you are performing will not allow you to go the full speed your car can go – and that’s ok. You can’t drive 200 kilometers per hour all day, that’s exhausting. A piece of music should not just take energy from you but give energy to you and the people listening. So balance and spacing, not speed is the key to being an expressive musician.

Sometimes a piece of music or creative exchange culminates in a Single feeling and that’s the point then. Sometimes the music will demand a full expression of possibilities that are even more than you can handle. Try not to worry because just trying to challenge music might bring tension and anticipation. That is what brings a piece of music to life. That is what makes a great story.

Who watches a film where nothing dramatic happens? Someone has a problem and we wait in anticipation to see how he or she solves it. That’s music to me. Get lost, look for clues, sweat it out and discover the way out. Often an interesting possibility is hiding inside of those mistakes.

I try to compose music that allows the greatest amount of possibilities to occur because that is what stimulates me individually. If I want to go left or right, dark or light or pastel, off beat or straight, the music I write tries to support all of those possible paths. I like it soulful too. Some artists create music that demands you to follow their road map more closely. This is where the composers original intent will probably come forth most clearly. Both ways achieve interesting musical results. Either way, you got to have soul. Don’t forget the soul.

The great composer Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris – standing in front of a classical orchestra, with a conductors baton in hand – used to say: “I am a jazz musician and I am clear about that”. I think that his statement represents how improvisation, when put in the right hands, is a force for transformation and a great place to find answers to questions in a complex world. Today jazz confronts many issues that challenge this notion. But if you know the music, it will never fool you. Be true to it and it will be true to you. At its best, it opens new worlds like no other music can. In its purest sense, it’s not just a music but a way of being. It represents the great advancement of a community and how any challenges can be turned into a great opportunity.

Music is still a place of wonder. When I discover a new sound, rhythm or combination of noises and notes I am still amazed. For me that’s better than any medicine or vitamins on earth I could take. If you can create music that puts you in a state of wonder and curiosity, you will be rewarded with great gifts.

Lastly: I’m over 50 and when I do music, I can say that I don’t know anything about what I’m going to do but I am ready and prepared to do things. This is freedom. Ask more than you tell. Listen more than you talk. Balance, baby!

Dieser Essay des Jazz- und Blues-Musikers Jean-Paul Bourelly ist auch im Magazin zum 34. Treffen junge Musik-Szene erschienen, das vom 8. bis 13. November 2017 im Haus der Berliner Festspiele stattfindet.