Hochschule Luzern - Musik, Abteilung Jazz

Picking Notes out of Thin Air?

2. Cultivating the Solist's Skills:

Getting Your Vocabulary Straight: Learning Models for Solo Formulation

When you're very young, you don't have the harmonic knowledge to create solos yourself, so you begin by copying things that sound good in other people's solos. Benny Bailey

I decided the best I could do would be to write the solos down, note for note, and line them up with the harmony of the song, analyzing the notes according to the chord that were played. Then I would learn, "Well, you can do this at this time. You can do that at that time." It was like getting your vocabulary straight. Art Farmer

Learning Discrete Patterns from Recordings

The old guys used to call those things crips. That's from crippled. In other words, when you're playing a solo and your mind is crippled and you can't think of anything different to play, you go back into one of your old bags and play one of your crips. You better have something to play when you can't think of nothing new or you'll feel funny laying out there all the time. Tommy Turrentine

The great players always give homage to their predecessors by recalling certain things that they did. They give it in appreciation and in understanding of the validity of their predecessors. Being able to quote from songs and solos is always part of a mature artist because he's aware of the contribution of others and its impact, how valid it is. something that is really valid is timeless. Arthur Rhames

It may be helpful just to see what someone like Miles played, but the books don't really teach you anything about why Miles did what he did, what his thinking was. That's what's needed. Benny Bailey

Well, he knows what I did on record, but he doesn't know why I did it. Art Tatum

Sometimes, you would try to duplicate something the soloists did. It was almost like they put it down there for you, like they were showing you something. So, you might try to duplicate a run or buy a transcription book to see how it looked on paper and then apply it, use it yourself from there. Mostly, they showed you a general way of thinking about playing a song or phrase. Or they showed you another way of looking at a chord, how it related to other things - like the way you can make one little phrase cover three or four chords. It was very interesting and good study for the ear. Tommy Flanagan

Learning by Observing Performances and Demonstrations

When you see people you admire doing what is do difficult for you, it's a whole new experience. You can not only hear it on records, but you can see it happening and you understand. When I saw Ray Brown for the first time, I was totally floored. In fact, I had a dream as a result of seeing him. In the dream, Ray Brown was actually Percy Heath. The bass was like ten feet tall, and Percy was like twenty feet tall, and his fingers were about a yard long. It seemed like he just stood there and laid his hands on the fingerboard. His fingers just crept all over the fingerboard and played all the notes. That as the effect that seeing Ray Brown had on me. Buster Williams

Increasing Apprehension and Recall of Vocabulary Phrases

If you've ever played a phrase once correctly, there is no reason for you ever to play it incorrectly. Barry Harris

Early Limitations and Physical Mastery over Instruments

Maybe you would work on a phrase to fit one chord, or maybe you would work on something to fit the whole bridge, but to use something in playing chorus after chorus, you must learn it in all keys. James Moody

Due to the law of infinity, sound can be improved and improved and improved. So, I'm constantly striving to improve my sound to get to the point where the sound is so beautiful that when people hear it they're caressed; their souls are inspired and nourished just by the sound itself. I'm working toward a style that would leave people on a plane with a feeling of complete elation. Harold Ousley

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