Improvisation, Grime, Jazz
On the subject of whether or not there’s such a thing as improvisation: in a lot of what seems to pass for jazz these days there seems to me to be precious little of it because once the “style” of a particular music is constrained to the extent that it often is, any spontaneity is so restricted as to be tokenistic. To me that’s not just “not jazz”, it’s more like “anti-jazz”. Spontaneity in improvisation is for me the most important thing given to the world (including other musics) by the jazz tradition. Most of the music I like best isn’t really jazz according to the dictionary definition but it wouldn’t exist were it not for that tradition. Grime is one example.
I’m not saying that jazz is dead, nor do I think that any such statement makes sense, I just wanted to say that some of its contemporary pseudo-practitioners actually have a lot less to do with jazz than do many exponents of free improvisation.
I don’t think anyone would claim that improvised music consists of pure spontaneity. Memory is as important to improvising musicians as it is to anyone else.
Personally I think that improvised music is where most of the most interesting and expressive and fruitful musical thinking is going on at the moment, and far from impoverished.