Have you ever heard a crowded room suddenly go silent? It can be ominous. Or awesome.
Stars Align takes place in a bar. Between the cocktail shakers and the talkers it can get loud. But when singer-songwriter Quinn Tsan and Michael Golas joined guitarist Bill MacKay on stage, they got the whole room to shut up.
Quinn credited this in part to their use improvisation to create moments audiences can’t help but notice.
“When you hear a synchronicity between musicians that’s an accident, that’s the beauty of improvised music,” she said. “Everybody hushes because there’s this visceral moment.”
While Quinn and Michael perform together regularly, Bill is one of the most respected independent guitarists in Chicago.
Brought together for Stars Align, their collaboration blends elements of folk, country, and jazz, including originals by Tsan and MacKay, and a couple cover songs.
Bill said the performance came together naturally because both he and Michael have roots in the jazz scene.
“There’s like a common language, but also we’re friends already, so I think we both knew there’s a chemistry of friendship, and I think we both knew there’s some chemistry of music in there too,” he said.
“It’s primal, maybe like an inherent way of understanding what’s to come next,” Michael agreed.
Quinn said the session was actually the first time she actually improvised onstage.
“It’s a different experience to just kind of follow your instincts,” she said.
And when it taps into instincts onstage and in the audience, music can inspire silence.
You can hear more from Quinn, Michael, and Bill in the podcast above, or listen to their entire session at the bottom of the post.