As briefly as possible on this very deep and rich topic: listen up to Son House and Cedell Davis. If you can dig what they are up to, then we can illuminate a key ingredient that I fervently endeavor to bring into the world of bamboo shakuhachi and woodwind performance. It’s why the majority of what I play can never be labeled “smooth.” We’ll save smooth for the yogurt, shall we? For the human soul is textured, and the human heart is filled with blood. It means beauty and glory are not necessarily limited in the ways we might be tempted to think.
Blues means many things, and it relates intimately to gospel–another ultimate expression of the human soul and its earthly-cosmic-divine nature–both of which are 20th century Black American art forms that have absolutely transformed the core of all soul-based music performance on planet Earth. If you play “non-soul-based” music (more and more common unfortunately) you are actually still swimming in the sea of soul that has immersed ALL music in this world–it’s just that perhaps your heart has not yet been opened to fully let it in. At any rate, sacred music all over the world has been opening true portals like this all along, but ecstasy and self-annihilation have not always been so tasty or comfortable for the human being.
Listen and learn. Don’t hold on so tight.