Wright's way with music and the saxophone has changed over the years, moving toward a highly abstract concept grounded in sound, rhythm, and texture rather than in melody and harmony. He admits that in the past he had been worried about leaning in such a direction, as he distrusted cold technical performances and passionless instrumental weirdness. But he need not have worried; Wright has adopted the extended techniques used by many contemporary saxophonists pops, clicks, multiple sounds, unusual timbres, and so on but his performances could never be called academic. On the contrary, he has simply extended the expressive range of his instrumental mastery in a manner that seems quite natural to him, and he continues to play with passion and conviction.
His early music was often angry, as he tried to preserve the energy and political message of the 1960s, but while he remains a cultural radical, he has found that he can express his passions in less obvious ways. Throughout this evolution certain elements have remained constant: a total commitment to living an artistic life, a love of exploration, a commitment to the future, and an aversion to imitation, even of himself. Wright is committed not to repeat anything he has done before and does not travel with a bag of rehearsed and well-worn licks, which are often the crutches of improvisers. His Ann Arbor concert on Thursday, September 9, will consist of duets with vocalist Carol Genetti, who explores the unlimited sonic possibilities of the human voice, utilizing extended techniques drawn from disparate musics of the world.
[Originally published in September, 2004.]